Injury. It’s pretty rubbish. Unfortunately when you get injured, it doesn’t always take the same amount of time to heal, nor does it manifest itself in the same way as it does in others. It’s not the same as a bit on your car or bike breaking down – why is this?
The injured tissue
Every different type of body tissue takes different amounts of time to repair. Even in muscles, different bits of muscle take different amounts of time to heal. Have you injured a tendon, the junction between the muscle and the tendon, the main part of the muscle, a ligament, the capsule, a bursa… The list goes on. Some tissues have better blood flow than others, some respond to rest, some respond better to loading.
Each type of injury is going to take a slightly different approach to getting better, and the key is being aware of which structure is injured.
The amount of trauma
Sometimes difficult to quantify, but for argument’s sake, lets just categorize it between a bit and a lot. Obviously a bit of trauma (a slight sprain) is going to heal a lot faster than a completely ruptured ligament. Pretty obvious, but it can be a challenge to work out just how bad the injury is (or indeed is not), as pain is not necessarily a useful and reliable guide.
Yes, you are indeed what you eat. The quality of tissue in your body is actually related to the fuel you put into it. If it’s junk and processed food, the chances are you are less likely to have a speedy recovery than if you’re being intelligent about what you are eating. Good food, in fact, good quality food is an often disregarded part of recovery.
Notice I have not said “rest”. Sometimes rest is needed, sometimes it is not. Sleep, however, is absolutely essential. There are sayings like “I’ll sleep when I’m dead”, and this is not helpful. If you are injured and recovering from injury, your body needs time to regenerate the tissues, it needs time to heal, and that comes during sleep. Don’t skimp on it. Take the time to heal.
Coming back too fast too soon – something we have all done. Feeling better after injury, and thinking that everything is healed and going well, off you go for a nice long run and twang- off you go again. Feelings of “I should have just waited a little longer” come to you. Perhaps yes, you should have waited a little longer before going out for a monster run. Smaller runs, easier sessions, and building up are key.
The tissue is still healing and remodelling, even up to 6 months after the injury. Modifying intensity and time is the best way to ensure the tissue is not overloaded to reinjury, but is simply loaded to the point where it can continue to recover.