An injury that forces you to halt your workout routine, get out of the game, or even from performing daily activities is not something that anyone wants to endure. From minor muscle tears to ankle sprains and bone fractures, if you’re injured, it can be incredibly frustrating, especially when the healing process seems to be taking its sweet time.
Many injuries, especially related to sports, can be avoided by warming up beforehand, such as stretching or performing some light cardio. When soft tissues are stretched and warmed up, they’re much less likely to get injured. If you’re training, be sure to alternate exercising different muscle groups and always cool down properly afterwards as well. Of course, if you’re already injured, it’s too late for prevention, so what can you do to speed recovery to heal that injury faster?
Get Plenty of Sleep
Getting sufficient sleep is critical for faster recovery and optimal healing. The body’s tissues need time to recover, and when we sleep, hormones are triggered to help in the repair process. It also causes breathing to slow and muscles to relax, which can lower information and aid healing. Additionally, as you sleep, the body makes more white blood cells which attack bacteria and viruses that can slow the healing process. For the immune system to function at its best, it relies on sleep – when you get less than seven hours a night, you’re at a higher risk of developing colds and infection.
One study found that among adolescent athletes, a minimum of eight hours of sleep helps to prevent the risk of injury. No matter what your age, with this in mind, increasing the number of hours you sleep is likely to lead to quicker recovery.
Take Ice Baths
Going for a post-workout plunge in an ice bath has been a common practice among athletes for many years. Also referred to as cold water immersion, it’s used to recover faster as well as to reduce muscle soreness and pain after competitions and tough workouts. Primarily it impacts inflammation by changing the way that blood flows, particularly after an injury. Almost instantly after submerging yourself in the chilly water, your blood vessels will start to contract. When you get out, they’ll gradually dilate, a process that helps to regulate not only the blood but other bodily fluids. This reduces the impact of strenuous activities and encourages faster healing.
A study published in the Journal of Sports Sciences in 2020 suggested that ice baths offer more benefits than stretching, helping to reduce swelling and inflammation after an injury. Fortunately, you don’t have to be a professional athlete to get access to an ice bath. You can easily find an ice tub for sale online for use right at home.
Use Nutrition to Speed Healing
Many foods, including protein, healthy fats, fruits, and vegetables, have been found to promote healing, reduce inflammation, and improve immune functioning. Berries are jam-packed with nutrients known to support recovery, including vitamin C, which stimulates the production of collagen, the body’s most abundant protein, to speed healing. They also contain powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins, which are well known to provide potent anti-inflammatory immune-supporting effects. Foods that are rich in protein enhance the muscle-building process, while omega-3 fatty acids from foods like wild-caught salmon and chia seeds help to limit excess inflammation while encouraging a quicker recovery.