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An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a pound of Cure – Part 2: Stages of Recovery

In my previous blog An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure – Part 1, I discussed my journey with my injury and how I struggled with leaving the sport I loved.

In Part 2, I am going to discuss the stages I believe we go through when we get injured and the science behind the injury and the healing process.

STAGE 1. DENIAL: I told myself it’s not that bad and even though the health care professionals told me it would take 6-8 weeks, in my mind, it would only take two. They don’t know how strong and skilled I am, I thought.

 

The Science

Acute phase (Inflammatory):

  • Lasts approximately 7-10 days after the initial injury.
  • The tissue is swollen, red, warm and/or all of the above.
  • At this stage, the body needs to heal.
  • Rest, gentle range of motion and/or protection of the injured area is important.

 

When the first two weeks passed and my knee was still very sore and I couldn’t bend it let alone run on it, I started to wonder what went wrong. “I should be healing faster than this; I should be back to at least straight line sprints,” I thought.

STAGE 2. TESTING IT: So I tested it – and before I knew it I was trying to convince myself that the sharp pain with every step is normal and it probably did that before.

STAGE 3. IMPATIENCE: I felt I was losing muscle strength and my skills were fading away while everyone else around me was progressing in their skills. So then I started to wonder what the therapist wasn’t doing to boost my healing process. How will I ever catch up?

STAGE 4. RESEARCH: I started researching all the options including consulting Dr. Google. Maybe they misdiagnosed it? Maybe they aren’t even providing the right treatment? I approached my Physiotherapist with my “research” and the therapist reminded me that it has only been three weeks since my injury.  

(Three weeks can feel like an eternity when you’re 19 and itching to get back at the sport you love.) I started to feel myself get lazy. However, remember in stage two when I tested my knee? Well, this caused more damage. BAM! my first setback placing my recovery back to week one.  

 

The Science

Subacute Phase (Repair and Healing):

  • This phase lasts approximately 1- 6 weeks depending on the tissue that is healing and if there is good blood supply to those tissues.
  • During this phase, you want to promote healing, oxygen and blood flow to the injured tissues. It is important to maintain mobility, strength and endurance through guided progressive exercises with your friendly healthcare practitioner.

Note: Stages1-4 can continue until you realize that everything has a process and that you need to trust that process.  It isn’t until you realize that things take time, that you start to heal.

 

STAGE 5. ACCEPTANCE: It isn’t until this stage that you actually start to make gains by leaps and bounds – maybe because the required healing time has elapsed or maybe it’s because you are mentally ready to recover and go through the process.  Whatever the case may be, you’re finally listening to the advice provided to you and you’re listening to what your body is telling you. You start celebrating and focusing on the little improvements and you build on them. Then over time you look back and think “wow” I’ve come a long way.  

You then realize that you can modify your workouts and your training to fit what you can do and you stop focusing on what you can’t, plus you know that at https://healthyusa.co/shred-fx-review-best-performance-enhancing-formula/ you will always find the best supplements to fulfill your workouts. Having an injury is frustrating and can throw a wrench in your plans — whether it’s leaving the sport you love, changing positions or careers, or how you play with your kids. But the process can never go fast enough.

The Science

Remodeling Phase (Maturation):

  • It lasts two months to one year depending on the tissues involved and the damage.
  • This phase encompasses a long period starting when the subacute phase is complete and continuing into a progressive return to sport/ function/life. In the beginning of this phase, around the 6-8 week mark, scar tissue is still forming and can still be remodelled up to 10 weeks.

 

The Equation for Recovery Time

Those stages are very familiar to me, both as a physiotherapist and as a patient. After having three knee surgeries and countless other injuries, I place a lot of importance on proper and careful recovery.

There really is no equation to determine the length of time it will take someone to recover (although I wish there were). It is a question I am asked all the time and even a question I ask when I’m the one lying on the physio table.

As a physiotherapist, I hope I can help others go through this only once or perhaps, with prevention, never really have to consider any of those stages. It is easy to look back and say, I wish I could have prevented that injury. But it shapes you, makes you stronger and teaches you patience. You learn more about your body and you learn the amazing things you can endure — physically and mentally.

We are humans, not robots, and there are many variables to consider when determining our recovery period. Including nutrition, sleep, stress (physical or emotional), and environment.

Each injury has been a different experience. Sometimes I recover quickly and sometimes it can nag me for years. But like I said in my last blog post, recovery from an injury is a lifelong journey, as is maintaining and improving our health, performance and longevity.

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure – PART 1

Injury prevention is something that I value greatly. As a Physiotherapist, I see many athletes struggling to return to sport and, in some cases, making the life-changing decision to stop playing the sport altogether. This is a very challenging journey and one that I, too, understand

MY INJURY STORY

I would like to share my experience with you so that you can understand it may be a long road, and that injuries force you to make a lot of decisions.

I was 19 years old and I had worked my butt off to gain a starting position, as the goalkeeper on a varsity team in my rookie year. I was on Cloud 9 and stayed there until the day of my injury.

I remember it like it was yesterday. When it happened, I told my coach not to worry, I’d rest up and I’d be at practice on Monday. However, I never made it to practice — instead, for the months that followed I spent countless hours in rehab, endured multiple flare ups and began to experience a loss in muscle strength and an emotional roller coaster. My heart was broken: I knew I was facing a hiatus from the sport I loved.

After many attempts to strengthen my knee without surgery – it came to a point where my knee would give out while simply running in a straight line. I knew surgery for ACL reconstruction would be the best route to take.

After 12 months of rehab, I was finally getting back into the swing of things when I tore my meniscus in the same knee. Back to the operating room I went; the rehab cycle started again.

I was hopeful and determined. I was making strides, slowly but surely. As I worked hard to regain my physical strength I kept my mental game strong by attending all practices, games and cheering on my teammates. I wasn’t ready to let go, playing soccer was all I ever really knew. I started training again for my sport and noticed I was timid on challenges and hesitated on plays.

That’s when the worst pain set in. The pain of knowing in the back of my mind that I had lost my edge. I knew in my heart that it was time to call it in but making that decision felt impossible.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR ME?

Physical injury quite often pays a toll on your mental state. Many questions plagued my mind as I tried to decide my fate in this sport.

  • What will I do if I am not playing soccer?
  • What will happen to my knee if I continue to play at this level?
  • Am I susceptible to more injury?
  • What will happen to the relationships I built with my teammates?
  • How will my parents feel (they are part of this community too)?
  • Am I a failure?
  • Will I get lazy?
  • How does this affect my life in 10 – 20 years from now?
  • Will I be active as I age?

Only I could determine the answers to these questions. I couldn’t go back; I couldn’t blame my parents, coach, teammates, doctors or therapists. Only I could decide what was best for me.

Like many athletes who suffer from injuries, this decision is life-changing. How do you make the decision to stop playing the sport that defined you for the majority of your life? It’s not an easy one.

THE JOURNEY IS THE REWARD

 

Don’t get me wrong, I have witnessed countless athletes return to playing high-level sports after similar or even more serious injuries. My story is about my personal journey and meant to help those see that sometimes a change in direction is ok; it’s not meant to discourage those that are going down the path of returning to their sport.

This injury turned out to be a very positive thing for me (as they say, “every cloud has a silver lining”), however, understand that at 19-years-old, wasn’t easy.  Looking back, it has shaped me and obviously led me into a career dedicated to injury rehabilitation and prevention.

August 16, 2017 marked 13 years since I had ACL reconstruction surgery. How fitting that it was also the first day that the Physiotherapy staff at Real Life Health initiated The FIFA 11+ ACL injury prevention program with the Laurentian Women’s and Men’s soccer teams.

Through my journey, I vowed to return to Laurentian to implement an ACL injury prevention program. I wanted to help others prevent the injury that devastated me and ended my soccer career. I am so thankful to have this opportunity with Laurentian’s Soccer programs and I am proud to be able to offer an injury prevention program that will help athletes achieve their goals by insulating them from injury, and improving their performance.

I don’t regret my decision to stop pursuing and playing soccer. I had many opportunities to learn new things about new sports. I found new interests and redirected my priorities to a lifetime of health and wellness.

People often ask, “Do you have pain in your knee?”, to which the answer is yes, sometimes I do. I know it will be a lifelong journey to maintain the strength and health of my joints (especially my knee).  The scars on my knee remind me of my journey and they welcome me to a club of many others who have gone down a similar path.  A path that, though different than the one a younger me expected, continues to get better.  See you shortly for Part 2!