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Follow right road to recovery

Nina Schnipper
Special to the Post Independent

End’O, yard-sale, bonk, face-plant, wipeout. If you live in Colorado, and you live to play, then you’ve experienced your share of these. However, some of us recover better from these accidents than others. Why is that? How does one “heal gracefully” from a sports-related injury?

Let’s first look at why some folks recover faster, and more completely, from injuries. Some people heal with no apparent side effects. They regain full use of the injured area. Their movements are fluid and easy. They experience little soreness, and take no time returning to their beloved “addiction.”

Other people have a tougher time recovering from sports-incurred injuries. Lots of scar tissue forms in the injured area, causing stiffness and pain. They have difficulty restoring range of motion, and their bodies may not return to their original state of health. For some, they experience a “healing crisis,” in which their body gets worse before it gets better, making them feel lousy in the process. For many, the accident seems to “linger” in their bodies, in their tissue memory.



There are several reasons why these two groups of people differ in their healing process. First, our body has amazing healing abilities. Whether injured or not, becoming conscious of our abilities and resources to heal ourselves is of immeasurable importance in discovering optimal levels of health!

If we rely too heavily on “modern technology” in medicine, we become increasingly disillusioned about the healing process. We lose perspective of our assets. We give our power to others, instead of letting them simply facilitate our personal discoveries. People who demonstrate effective healing may practice “communication” with their bodies. Their intuition about their bodies’ needs, in response to trauma, may be more developed.



A second reason why some people heal more quickly than others is the immediate care they sought after injury. Erring on the side of caution will speed the recovery process every time! In other words, take your injury seriously. Don’t brush it off, or assume that the hot tub will fix it.

Another attribute of successful recovery is body type. Your body and muscle fibers may be predisposed to certain sports, thereby decreasing your risk of injury in those sports. If your parents, for example, excelled in track events, you might be more likely to also excel in track events. If your body is built for sprinting, you may be at risk for injury if you prefer football. What can you do to recover with confidence? First and foremost, always apply basic first aid, and seek medical attention.

One example of the importance of getting immediate medical care is when someone crashes head-first, with impact and speed. Let’s acknowledge that there is no such thing as a “little whiplash.” Even the slightest whiplash can cause irreversible damage and chronic pain if not treated promptly. The muscles adopt unhealthy patterns of movement when they are injured. Also, muscle fibers and connective tissue tear. If left to heal without proper retraining, compromised movement and scar tissue develop. Scar tissue is difficult to treat once it sneaks in. Problems from untreated whiplash can manifest years after the accident itself, and recovery can take years from the time these problems are addressed.

First aid, see a doctor, then what? If your injury warrants a rehab or therapy program, then start it, and stick to it. Follow your doctors’ orders strictly.

A mix of both conservative and alternative medicine may accelerate your healing. Seek alternative medicine options under a doctor’s guidance when an injury is involved. Massage therapy, for example, is often used to treat whiplash and other accident-related injuries; many doctors prescribe massage. Ask your doctor which forms of alternative therapy can be included in your treatment plan.

In conclusion, you may find it easiest to keep your body in peak fitness by practicing the first rule of first aid: Prevention! When you aren’t feeling your best, if you haven’t slept or eaten well, then take it easy. You only get one body in this lifetime!

Nina Schnipper is a nationally certified personal trainer and massage therapist. She practices all over the valley, with a medical massage office in Basalt. For more information, please call 948-0179.


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