Here’s the second blog from osteopath Adam Wilson in his series on managing the aches and pains that can creep on when we’re past out prime!
It might sound counter intuitive but if you’ve suffered some sort of injury, it’s often better to keep moving than to stop and rest, especially if you’re a little bit older. But the real fast track to recovery is to keep moving but not overdo it and set yourself back, so here’s our quick guide to getting it right.
When you suffer an injury, people often advise you to ‘get some rest’. But while taking the weight off or not using the area might relieve the pain in the short term, it also stops you from being able to do your other day-to-day activities. Unfortunately as the body heals more slowly as we get older, what might have just involved a week of rest in your 20’s could be 2 or even 3 weeks if you’re in your 60’s, too long if you want to keep fit and active.
What’s worse is that even in 2 or 3 weeks, it’s possible to lose a noticeable amount of muscle strength, which means when you return to your normal level of activity, you may not have the ability to work or play as hard as you used to.
Doing nothing is a vicious circle
Lack of exercise also quite often leads to reduced energy levels. Quite simply, as you aren’t doing as much, the body adapts to not using as much energy which can leave you feeling tired, and not up to what you used to do. Not to mention the frustration of not being able to do the gardening, go for a walk or play golf or other sports, which can all make “rest” seem a bit of a bore.
But why move?
Why is moving good for an injury? Well (and yes, here comes the science bit), all the fibres in your muscles and ligaments run along the direction of stress or work that the tissue does. When you rest, this stress is not present, so any new tissues that are being laid down as repair do not have the forces needed to align them properly. As a result, sometimes the new tissue is not as strong as it could be: the fibres are all over the place, and some run across the lines of stress and not with them. By using the tissues as they repair, these fibres are aligned correctly. In other words, it’s a better and stronger repair.
Movement also encourages blood flow. Think of muscles as a sponge in water: if you squeeze it, the water comes out, then when you let go more water flows in. Blood is pumped through more quickly when you exercise and it’s the blood that carries all the oxygen and nutrients that tissues need to grow and repair. It also maintains that muscle strength, which may otherwise be lost.
Finally, moving can also help you achieve small targets on your journey to recovery. If walking is problematic, aim to build up from a few steps to walking for a few minutes. Stairs causing issues? Start with a couple and then aim for the whole staircase. It gives you a measurable indicator of your recovery which can motivate you, and can also stop you from being stuck at home.
But don’t over do it
The important thing to remember is that pain is the body’s indication that something is wrong, so all activity should be done without pain. Be careful not to push things too far too early and don’t let a moderate improvement persuade you in to returning to your everyday life and routines. More often than not, this will cause things to take a turn for the worse. The best way to recover is by gradually increasing your activity. If you used to swim 20 lengths easily, aim to start with 5 and see how it feels. If it causes no problems, increasing by 2 lengths each time is better than jumping straight back to 20! Listen to your body and work with it, not against it.
The good news is that by making these fairly small adjustments to how you do things, most activities can be carried on to a decent level. But remember, if you are still struggling with pain or are still not sure how to manage an injury, just get in touch. We can provide you with treatments to ease the discomfort and talk you through exercise regimes to help you back to recovery and prevent it from happening again. We’ll make sure we work at your pace, and you’ll enjoy visible improvement throughout the process.
You’re too young to stop moving!
Call Adam Wilson today to arrange your free 15 minute consultation
Or get moving and book your appointment.