How to recover like a physio

Super physio Lauren Taylor actually joined Victory at the start of May, but you may not have seen much of her yet.  Here, she explains why!

On 22 May, whilst cycling home from work on a nice summer's evening, a car reversed into an intersection and knocked me off my bike. I sustained a fractured bone in my arm and a torn ligament in my knee, along with other minor injuries all over my body. I was taken to hospital by ambulance, and the broken arm was severe enough to need surgery the next day, with pins and plates now holding me together.

Of course one of the major things an accident like this impacts is your ability to work. And as a physiotherapist, I need to be able to push through my hands and arms, to have dexterity with my fingers, and to have enough leg mobility to bend down to the ground and move around my patients.

The usual time it takes to return to work after injuries such as these is eight weeks. But I managed to get back to work after just five. So how did I do it?!

Well there are several factors at play, and the ones I focused on most were nutrition, hydration, relative rest (or relative mobility) and finally stress management - effectively, the foundation layer of the Health & Performance Pyramid.

Nutrition and Hydration

Whenever you sustain an injury, it is vital to provide adequate nutrition to the cells and to make sure the body is hydrated. You need to make sure that the body has the right building blocks to help recreate a strong body. Protein and fat are important to maintain muscle and to lubricate the organs and brain, and I also started supplementing my diet with Usana core minerals and vita-antioxidants, as well as the Eqology fish oil.  

When there is injury the body becomes more acidic, and with acidity comes cell death. Generally, due to the modern diet, we now tend to be in a dehydrated and acidic state anyway. Alkalising the body through diet is actually very easy. I always have a couple of glasses of water a day with lemon, or apple cider vinegar in it, and packing meals with dark green vegetables, such as kale, spinach, and broccoli also helps.

Relative Rest or Relative Mobility

The next important aspect to my recovery was movement. The common belief after injury is that you need to rest. For some injuries this is certainly true, but actually for a lot of them, this doesn't actually mean total immobility.

When injury occurs, an inflammatory response takes place to block damaged blood vessels, carry in healing mediators, and remove damaged cells. We certainly want this process to happen, but unfortunately when you are immobile, the swelling sits within the damaged tissue and becomes very thick and viscous, much like paint that has been sitting around.

This then puts more pressure on the tissues and reduces the efficiency of the healing process. There is a reduction of synovial fluid - or joint lubricant - so less oxygen gets to the tissues, the newly laid down collagen fibres don’t have any stressors to guide their alignment, and the joints and tissues become stiff.  

Conversely when you move gently, gradually, and in a manner appropriate to that injury, it helps to move the swelling away from the area, thereby removing waste products and reducing pressure. You preserve the integrity of the surrounding tissues and reduce the chance of secondary complications due to disuse. 

I should mention that it is imperative to go through a guided process for this. Being a physio, I have a good knowledge of what should happen to optimise physical recovery, but nonetheless I still booked in for treatment with my boss, Nell.  It is amazing how all the great knowledge you have can go out of the window as soon as you are the one who is injured, and you go back to asking questions like ‘can I return to work after two weeks?’ or ‘can I still compete in a triathlon next month?!’ (uh no, duh!).  Fortunately for me, Nell was very understanding and became integral to my rehabilitation. She provides (we aren’t done yet!) high quality hands on treatment, recommends specific exercises to do, gives nutritional advice, and generally keeps me on the straight and narrow!

Stress Management

The final piece in the puzzle for me was stress management. Stress induced elevations in cortisol levels directly affect wound healing. As you can imagine, suddenly being put in a position of not being able to earn an income for an indefinite period of time was certainly stressful, and not to mention that I couldn’t do the activities that I love doing. Thankfully I had a very understanding and supportive husband at home, and Nell was wonderful in reassuring me that Victory would still be here when I was ready to come back!

So there you have it! The road to recovery can be tough and very frustrating for a lot of people. There certainly many many ways in which healing can be delayed, and unfortunately you can't heal faster than your biology will allow, BUT if you are able to follow the Health & Performance Pyramid then you can certainly optimise the healing process and even, as in my case, potentially beat expectation!

If you'd like the chance to make a recovery like Lauren's, call us on 0207 175 0150 or click below and one of the team will call you back to arrange your assessment.

Nell MeadComment