Back up and ready: leaving an injury behind you

It’s the classic response people give, when you are recovering from an injury: "You'll bounce back". Well, when you're in recovery after a bad sprain, broken bone, torn ligament or similar, it rarely feels like getting back into physical activity is a 'bounce'. Rather, it can feel like a long and dragged-out process to (literally and figuratively) get back on your feet.

For those doing sports on a very regular, even daily basis, exercise can have a drug-like effect as a mood-booster, stress reliever and social outlet. When injured, the hole exercise leaves in daily life can be a gaping one. Although therein lies the opportunity: that is, to embrace the recovery period and develop some new habits or different methods of stress-relieving, endorphin-raising activity. From meditation, to enjoying music, to learning how to code – there are countless activities to focus on while in recovery.

As clichéd as is sounds, resting up, drinking fluids and eating vitamin-rich foods will prime your body for a faster, more complete recovery. While it may feel like getting back out there and running, jumping or swimming is what your body wants, preventing further aggravation of your injury and preventing another future injury occurring, should be your top priorities.

A physiotherapist will work on just this – on rebuilding strength in the injured area, for the purposes of increasing strength, flexibility, balance and coordination. A key part of work in recovery will be preventing additional strain and tension, to let you get on with your usual exercise routine at some stage. Furthermore, if only injured in one area, i.e. the ankle, recovery time could be ideal to do more gentle exercises on another of your healthy muscle areas, e.g. the back, shoulders or triceps.

Once you have been feeling more-than-normal for some time, there are a few simple steps that can ease you back into sports. Firstly, gently warm up the affected area before you even begin your usual full-body warm-up. Secondly, begin your training with care, avoiding exercising on uneven surfaces and slowly work your way up to a moderate level, rather than the maximum. Thirdly, when you feel pain or discomfort, stop exercising. It could be your body telling you it needs a bit more time, so gently cover the affected area with a cooling bandage or to give it extra support.

Lastly, but most importantly, no online advice will be a substitute for consulting a physician personally, and having a full recovery program tailored specifically to you and your injury.