If you’ve suffered an injury, coping with physical pain can take its toll psychologically. Learn how to heal injuries faster with these healthy recovery tips.
According to the Center for Disease Control, 214,000 people die each year in the US from injuries.
This equates to one person every 3 seconds. And, this isn’t accounting for the millions of others who are injured each year and survive. In 2015 alone, 2.8 million people were hospitalized because of injuries. And, in the same year, 27.6 million people were treated in the emergency room for injuries. Injuries also take a huge economic toll, with injuries costing the US $670 billion each year.
If you’re currently experiencing an injury, then you know what a toll it can take on your body. Your main focus now should be on recovering.
But, is there anything you can do to speed up the recovery process?
Read on to learn how to heal injuries faster with these recovery tips.
- Get a Diagnosis and Understand Your Injury
If you haven’t done this yet, this is the very first thing you’ll want to do. Yes, you may know that your ankle hurts, but a sprained ankle will need different treatment than a fractured ankle, so it’s important to understand what you’re working with.
And, your doctor won’t just be able to diagnose your injury, they’ll also be able to set a recovery plan up for you. Additionally, they may recommend that you see another specialist, such as a physical therapist, massage therapist, or chiropractor for your injury.
Also, if you’ve been injured at work, then you’ll definitely want to see a workers comp doctor. By getting your injury properly diagnosed, you may be able to receive compensation for the time you’re missing from work.
- Eat the Right Foods
Eating the right foods can make a major difference in the speed of your recovery. Here’s what your diet should look like in order to help your body heal from the inside out:
Protein is a huge factor when it comes to injury recovery. This is especially the case if you were injured while you were working out.
This is because your muscles are made up of protein, so in order to heal your injured muscle tissue, you’ll need to consume more of it. During your recovery, you should focus on consuming as many lean sources of protein as possible. Some excellent sources of lean protein include:
- Greek yogurt
If you have trouble consuming enough protein, you may want to consider adding a protein shake to your diet.
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that your body actually doesn’t have the ability to produce. This means that it’s very important that you consume it on a daily basis, especially when you’re injured. Vitamin C helps to build new protein for scar tissue, skin, ligaments, tendons, and blood vessels. It also helps our bodies maintain cartilage and bone tissue.
Some excellent sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, peppers, kiwi, and broccoli.
Vitamin A is another essential nutrient for injury healing. This is because vitamin A promotes the production of white blood cells which help fight off infection and viruses. Even if you don’t have an open wound, your body will still rely on white blood cell production to increase the rate of healing and protect the injury.
You can find vitamin A in carrots, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds, swiss chard, spinach, and winter squash.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to reduce inflammation, even more so than over-the-counter painkillers.
Reducing inflammation and swelling will also help reduce pain and promote faster healing, so eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids is important. Foods to incorporate into your diet include flax seeds, walnuts, salmon, and other fish.
Many people turn to zinc when they feel a cold coming on, as this mineral has strong immune-boosting properties. Like vitamin A, this mineral can also protect your body against infections and viruses.
Every tissue in your body contains zinc, which is why consuming this mineral is so important in the healing process. Foods rich in zinc include nuts, seeds, oysters, and chicken.
Lastly, you want to make sure your healing diet is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants help control the free radicals (aka, toxins) that roam our bodies.
Foods rich in antioxidants include cherries, blueberries, raspberries, prunes, ginger, turmeric, and coffee.
- Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is a very important part of the healing process. When you’re sleeping, your brain triggers the necessary hormones that help repair your body and produce white blood cells.
In fact, one study even found that getting eight hours of sleep helps to reduce injury in athletes. If you’re having trouble falling asleep, make sure you put your screens down about an hour before bedtime and instead engage in a soothing activity like reading or meditating.
Also, don’t be afraid to catch a cat nap in the afternoon. The more you sleep, the faster your body will be able to heal.
- Hot and Cold Treatment
Hot and cold treatment is something nearly everyone thinks of when they think about healing an injury. But, in order for your body to properly heal, you need to make sure you’re doing hot and cold treatment the right way.
Your first concern should be to get the swelling under control. Immediately following your injury, ice it for 10 to 30 minutes every two hours or so. Also, make sure you’re following the RICE method. That is- rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Ice yourself while laying on the couch with the injury compressed and the injured area elevated on a pillow or something else that can prop it up. Ideally, you want the injured area to be at the same level as your heart is.
Once the swelling stops, you can then treat the injury with heat. The heat will speed up the recovery, promote blood flow, and help your internal tissues to relax.
- Stay Hydrated
We all know that drinking water is an essential part of leading a healthy lifestyle. However, knowing and doing are two separate things. When your routine is thrown off due to an injury, it can be easy to let drinking water and other healthy habits slip to the wayside.
Drinking plenty of water will help your body stay energized and strong so it can mend and build new tissue.
Also, make sure to go easy on the sports drinks during this time, especially if you’re dealing with a lot of swelling. This is because too much salt in your diet can cause your body to retain water. If your body is retaining a lot of water, it makes it difficult for swelling to go down.
And, since you’re not sweating out the salt through exercise, you don’t need to replace it by drinking sports drinks.
So, we recommend sticking with plain old water during your injury. If you don’t like drinking plain water, you can cut up some fruit, mint, or cucumbers and add those in.
- Consider Exercise
Whether or not you can exercise while you’re recovering will depend largely on the injury you’ve sustained. So, make sure you get clearance from your doctor before you do anything.
But, if you are cleared to exercise a bit, take advantage of it. Going for a brisk 45-minute walk can work wonders when it comes to reducing swelling. Additionally, yoga and swimming can be great exercises for injury recovery, as they don’t result in too much impact on the joints and muscles.
- Maintain Moisture in Your Skin
If you’re dealing with surface wounds like cuts or scrapes, one of the biggest issues you’ll face is a wound that dries out and takes longer to heal.
In order for your skin to knit itself back together, it needs to be soft and moisturized. If you have dry skin, you’re likely going to deal with cracks around the edges of your injury. This is actually one of the reasons why people don’t believe in closed bandages and instead believe in open-air healing.
You should be applying moisturizer to the injured area several times per day. Also, if you live in a dry climate, use a humidifier in your home.
- Use a Sports Brace
The last thing you want is to reinjure yourself by stepping the wrong way our bumping the injured area against something.
So, when you’re not resting the injury, make sure it’s protected in some way. Ideally, you should invest in a sports brace that’s specifically made to protect the type of injury you’re dealing with.
Heal Injuries: Are You Ready to Heal?
Now that you know how to heal injuries faster, it’s time to put these tips to use. Before you know it, your injury will be healed and you’ll be back to your old self.
If you liked this article, be sure to check back in with our blog for more healthy living tips and tricks.