I injured my ankle this week.
I was p*ssed. It slowed me down. You see, I am a walker and a woman with a hurt ankle can’t really walk 6 miles on the weekend. Also, Molly & I are headed to New York City next week for a conference (Women in PT Summit– look out world!) and that’s a city that requires working ankles!!
Today is the 5th day. It barely looks swollen this morning, I’m limping a lot less, and I’m finally convinced I will not be condemned to a life of immobility and sitting in my own pee in a nursing home because I couldn’t exercise. (I know where your mind goes when something is injured 🙂
Whether you’ve injured an ankle, a back or a finger, here are 5 steps to recovering!
1. Attitude Adjustment
Listen to the little voice in your brain. Are you feeling sorry for yourself? Pity party? Convinced that this is it and you’ll never enjoy life again? Maybe remembering how Uncle Harold hurt his back and could never travel the country the way he wanted and sure this is your fate? Thoughts are nerve impulses and those nerve impulses mix with information from the injured body area to determine how quickly you’ll get better. Worry, fear and anxiety can slow healing!! I’ll be honest, a little pity party is pretty normal, but then get over it.
It’s a lot easier to get over it if you know a little about how healing happens. For the first 3 days or so after a new injury, there is some major inflammation going at the site. Inflammation sounds bad, but new inflammation is the absolute KEY to getting better!! You see, inflammation that happens right after an injury brings the body’s defenses to the area (I’ve been imagining little National Guard soldiers in my ankle, getting things all healed up :). All that swelling, redness, pain and heat mean your body knows what to do to heal you! Thanks body! Then full healing usually takes 4-8 weeks, so it’s pretty normal to have some irritation for awhile.
Some thoughts on anti-inflammatory medication (think ibuprofen, aleve and that kind of thing): if new inflammation is the way our body heals itself, why would we want to shut it down with a bunch of anti inflammatory medication?! Talk to your doctor or pharmacist about this, but our general stance is to try to deal with the pain the best you can, and only use anti-inflammatory medication in a new injury as a last resort, or to help you sleep.
3. Rest & Gentle Movement/Alternative Exercise
Since I couldn’t walk this week, I had to find different ways to exercise. May ankle was still sore on my bike, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as walking and I could still do it, so biking it was! Two days ago I still had to take it easy on my bike, but this morning I was really able to peddle. Yesterday was a slow walk. I’ve been getting on my mat and doing some floor exercise, yoga, pilates type stuff. I’ve been taking my ankle through gentle ranges of motion and stopping just when I start to feel the discomfort. The key is to keep the body part moving, but not through any moderate to severe pain. Keep moving through small amounts of discomfort to avoid getting stiff.
While new inflammation is good and helps us heal, too much inflammation is not so good and the main source of chronic inflammation is crappy food. Want to know the best fuel for healing? Veggies. Protein. Healthy fats like raw nuts, avocados or oils like olive, avocado & walnut. Want to know what sucks at helping us heal? Bread. Bread-like products. Sugar.
I challenge you to remove all sugar and sugar substitutes (sugar, sweetener, honey, maple syrup) as well as bread and bread- like products (toast, bagels, cereal, pancakes, waffles, pasta, cookies, crackers) from breakfast and lunch. Eat some scrambled eggs, a smoothie (email me and I’ll give you some recipes) or steel cut oatmeal for breakfast. Check out the https://www.hhhmprograms.com/p/power-bowl-challenge to get some amazing recipes for lunch.
5. Physical Therapy
And last, but OF COURSE not least, come visit us at Breathe. right away. Or if you’re far away from us, go to another physical therapist. We will give you the right exercises, help guide you through a personalized healing program, and maybe do some fancy taping, massage or dry needling to get you feeling better FAST. We also help with that attitude adjustment we know you’ll be needing (wink wink).