For all the avid skiers, snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts out there.
If you are recovering from an injury, you surely may be familiar with the mnemonic RICE, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It definitely has a place at the table for injury management but it should be quickly replaced with one that better supports healing and recovery. Let me add some MEAT to that RICE.
Movement is best, not rest, to treat an injury. Gentle restoration of active range of motion with gradual introduction of functional movements improve blood flow, provide fresh oxygen and remove metabolic waste. The mild stress from the motion leads to a release of chemical growth factors from cells which enhances the production of proteins that helps the ligaments heal.
With the appropriate guidance, exercise has the potential to enhance recovery. By tolerating gentle controlled movements, you start encouraging muscle stretching and activation which will align your ligaments and muscle fibers towards the tension thereby preventing the formation of adhesions (scar tissue. Furthermore, this will also send nerve impulses down to your muscles which will reduce the incidence of muscle atrophy and joint stiffness.
Intense pain reduces one’s ability to heal, therefore pain management is an important part of injury treatment. Pain will make you compensate movements, it will keep you up at night, and it produces a range of neurotransmitters which your brain would happily utilize for the benefit of your mood. The theme here is that the body cannot heal and recover under stressful circumstances so use analgesia to control acute pain. However, I’m not referring to the use of NSAIDs (Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs) such as Advil and Ibuprofen. Naturopathic Medicine has natural analgesics such as Curcumin, a powerful anti-inflammatory derived from Turmeric. We also commonly prescribe proteolytic enzymes that break apart scar adhesion and regulate the inflammatory cascade In essence these enzymes behave like a game of PACMAN by gobbling up all the pro-inflammatory chemical messengers. T
Treatment is the key to your recovery. Manual therapy, physiotherapy, neural therapy, myofascial release and acupuncture are all tools that will support tissue healing and improve your recovery. The use of contrast hydrotherapy to alternate hot and cold exposure to an injury in order to enhance blood and lymphatic circulation is an age old traditional naturopathic therapy to speed up the healing process.
Remember that your joints and ligaments don’t receive a fair amount of blood flow which means they take far longer to heal. If you don’t address these issues directly and take initiative in your recovery, the end result can lead to chronic injury, join instability, pain syndromes, and re-injury. Implementing both MEAT and RICE protocols as part of your recovery regiment would be the “Gold-Standard” of treatment. All these steps are to be taken with caution, therefore, listen to your body and know your limits.