As you progress through a physical therapy program you can expect a lot of education coming from your therapy regarding ways to maximize your post injury outcomes. Regardless of your diagnosis, when attending physical therapy you can expect some formal review on posture/body mechanics, safety issues for your particular injury, range of motion activities, strength/stabilization exercises, and home program instructions – to name just a few things. But did you know there are many other factors that influence your recovery, or that they are all under your control?
Your body consumes an enormous amount of energy when recovering from injury. Where this energy is coming from is vitally important! To get the necessary vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help with healing, whole foods need to be your focus. Yes, that does mean you have to eat your veggies (and lots of them) in addition to fruits, whole grains, beans and nuts. The more colorful your diet is, the better.
Make sure you are drinking plenty of water! Water helps hydrate your healing tissues and also to flush out various toxins that may have collected during the injury process. Hydration is an absolutely key factor to helping your body function optimally.
Don’t forget that juices, sodas, and other soft drinks are not a substitute for water! Many of these drinks will ultimately end up dehydrating you even further, they also tend to be filled with empty calories due to their remarkably high sugar content.
Sleep is when your body is able to take time to truly direct resources towards restorative, healing processes. Don’t be surprised if you begin feeling particularly tired when recovering from a major injury – your body is doing a lot more work than you realize! While all athletes should be shooting for 8 hours of sleep on any given night, this becomes especially important when recovering from a discrete injury.
Studies have linked chronic stress to many different health problems from heart disease, anxiety, headaches, and sleep disorders to gastrointestinal issues, obesity and even diabetes. Psychological stress has also been proven to affect so learning to minimize and manage stress after an orthopedic injury or surgical procedure is important for any athlete.
Take some time out of your day to assess what your current stressors are and formulate plans to help deal with them. Couple this type of mindset with application of yoga, breathing, or meditation work and you have a recipe for beating off stress no matter what circumstances you may find yourself in.