Returning from Injury

All athletes have one thing in common – they get injured!  Injuries happen to practically everyone at some point in their athletic career, and knowing how to deal with them and come back from them is very important.  Unfortunately, I have a lot of experience in this area but I am happy to share it in the hope of saving someone else time and having to go through a long comeback.

The first thing to note is that as you age, your body is less resilient and takes a longer time to recover.  Your body also gets more brittle and less flexible so you have to take more time to care for it.  Recovery is important. 

The idea in recovering from an injury or illness it to take the slow and conservative route.  Hopefully you are dedicated enough to karate that you will be doing it for a very long time.  Spending additional time recovering and getting back up to speed is just a drop in the bucket in the scheme of your lifetime. 

Depending on the severity of the injury your recovering from, there could be setbacks on the way back.  Try not and let them get you down.  Slow, steady progress will win the day and you will be back to your usual self in short order. 

Some specific tips that might help during the process (once you are past the initial acute stage) are:

•  Apply heat to the injured area before working out and apply ice to that same area after finishing working out.  Heat will help loosen things up allowing for more freedom of movement and ice will help reduce inflammation afterwards allowing for additional recovery.

• Allow a long warm-up time.  Arrive early and never do any extreme motion without working up to it.  I always warm-up before the warm-up, but I allow extra time when I am recovering from a specific issue.

• Consider massage to the area.  Injuries can lead to scar tissue or knots building up inside you.  Massage can be a great way to reduce these and give you a wider range of motion.  Likewise, if you don’t already own a foam roller (you really should), get one!  This can be a great way to manually massage the area and help reduce the risk of re-injuring that area.

• Get plenty of sleep as that is when your body’s natural repair ability happens.  Getting an additional 30 or 60 minutes of sleep can make a huge difference.

• Drink plenty of fluids (especially water) to help flush the toxins from the body and keep yourself hydrated.

Think of returning from an injury like reeling in a big fish.  In fishing, you need to go slowly and methodically otherwise you risk the fish getting away.  You need to make some gains and then rest, and make some more gains, etc.  Don’t expect your body to comeback to normal all at once.  Give it some time to get back to its normal ways, and you will find yourself back and better than ever in no time!

 -Coach David-