A primer on injury recovery…

Lisa Shirk is one of my favorite athletes, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my neighbor and my wife likes her.  She’s great because she goes all at it all the time.  Now, sometimes this results in a string of curses to make a sailor blush, the slight twist of an ankle, or a little bit of blood on a bar.  In this case, she went all in falling down the stairs of her deck, and in an effort to save her fancy imported beer, she broke her foot. The obvious moral of the story is that even fancy imported beer isn’t paleo, so don’t drink it and you won’t fall down stairs.  But the other important aspect is that after an injury, you need to get better before you hit a WOD real hard again.

Now Lisa hasn’t been in the gym for about a week, and for good reason.  (Pain meds, and lots of them.) And even if she tried to work out, I would have stopped her because she needed that first week especially to begin healing properly.

Well, today she couldn’t take it anymore and begged me to pick her up and drive her over, which I did, and then she did a modified version of the box’s WOD that kept the stimulus very similar, but avoided the injured foot (and the injured knee, but that’s a whole other story).  But it did make me think of the different types of injuries that all athletes succumb to, even us, and thought maybe it would be a good idea to give you a quick primer on some basic stuff. Then I surfed over to MBS CrossFit in Colorado, and found this great article on just that. Thanks MBS.

Acute vs Chronic Injuries

In the event that you suffer from an injury, many times not cause from working out, but rather from an unexpected event; here is some information you may find helpful in determining what to do and how to respond to your injury. 

Acute Injury

For example a sprained ankle or fractured hand, occur suddenly during activity.

Signs of an acute injury include:
– sudden, severe pain
– swelling
– inability to place weight on a lower limb
– extreme tenderness in an upper limb
– inability to move a joint through full range of motion
– extreme limb weakness
– visible dislocation / break of a bone

Chronic Injury

Chronic injuries usually result from overusing one area of the body while playing a sport or exercising over a long period, or repetitive movements on the job.

Signs of a chronic injury include:
– pain when performing activities
– a dull ache when at rest
– swelling

Systemic Red Flags –Signs of Internal injury not musculoskeletal related:

– Insidious onset with no known mechanism of injury
– Symptoms out of proportion of injury
– No decrease in symptoms with change in position
– Recent or current fever, chills, night sweats or pain, infection, unexplained weight loss, and nausea.
– Bilateral symptoms
– Severe weakness, numbness, tingling, or burning.

Response to Injury:

– Severe injury; bleeding, severe pain, inability to weight bear, non-stop pain seek Urgent Help or see your doctor ASAP!

Musculoskeletal or Soft Tissue Injury (ie: sprain, strain, muscle pull, etc.)

RICE – For the first few days after injury

Rest
– Important due to inflammatory response which causes bruising, swelling, and pain to protect from further injury
Ice
– Causes vasoconstriction of blood vessels to prevent further inflammation
– Recommend Ice cup to involved area x 5 min several times per day
Compression
– To decrease edema. Don’t wrap too tight & wrap from distal to proximal (farthest away toward midline).  Tingling means too tight!
Elevation above heart
– Allows for control of edema

Once healing has begun, pain and swelling have decreased its time to mobilize
– Light massage to decrease scar tissue formation and increase circulation to aide in healing
– Gentle stretching through full range of motion
– Avoid painful movements
– Modify WODs as needed
– Carefully build back up your strength

If none of this works, see your doctor!

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