Orthopedic Specialists

5 Ways To Heal A Sports Injury Faster (& Better!)

March 20, 2023

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Whether you’re a competitive athlete or you lead an active lifestyle, dealing with an athletic injury can be a major frustration. From dealing with injury pain and finding the right injury treatment to preventing a similar injury in the future, the post-injury treatment process has a lot of variables. 

No matter the type of injury, a proper healing process is vital to providing pain relief, preventing further injury/damage, and returning to your sport or activity without any lasting effects. If you’re wondering how to recover from an injury faster, try these safe and effective methods to help boost injury recovery! 

5 Tips For A Fast Recovery From Your Injury

The injury rehabilitation process should never be rushed, as this can result in further damage and/or another injury. However, certain injury care steps can be taken to help injuries heal better and also help speed recovery.

1) The RICE Method

The RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevate) method is a common sports injury treatment method that is most effective immediately after an injury with treatments continuing for the next two days. This type of injury treatment is ideal for soft tissue injuries such as muscle strains and sprains. RICE reduces blood flow to the injured area, which helps minimize post-injury swelling and pain.

2) Cold Therapy & Heat Therapy

Heat therapy works by increasing circulation and blood flow to a particular area with an increased temperature which can help relax and soothe muscles and damaged tissue. Examples of heat therapy treatments include heating pads, dry heat packs, and even saunas.  

Cold therapy is also known as cryotherapy. It reduces blood flow to a particular area reducing inflammation and swelling which can help ease pain, especially around a joint or tendon. It also reduces nerve activity which can relieve pain. Types of cold therapy treatment can include ice packs, coolant sprays, ice massages, or ice baths. 

Should I use ice or heat? As a general rule of thumb, ice is better for acute pain, inflammation, and swelling. Heat is better for muscle pain, muscle stiffness, and injuries that linger for more than six weeks. 

3) Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections (PRP Injections)

One of the main components in plasma are platelets which contain hundreds of proteins called growth factors that are very important in the injury healing process. PRP injections have been shown to have beneficial effects for a wide variety of injury recoveries, such as Achilles injuries and ACL or MCL tears. It can also help support recovery from tennis elbow, tendonitis, and even arthritis. PRP Injections are a form of regenerative medicine, meaning the patient's natural healing system is being utilized to help heal tissue and recover faster.

4) Proper Diet & Supplements For Treating Injuries

From a torn ACL to a fracture to muscle sprains, what you eat during the injury recovery process can help improve the injury healing process. 

  • Protein-Rich Foods: Foods that are high in protein (such as fish and meat) help enhance your body’s muscle-building process, aiding in a faster recovery from an injury. 
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C supplements and foods rich in vitamin C (such as citrus fruits and leafy greens) help rebuild tissue and reduce inflammation, both important aspects of the injury recovery process. 
  • Lots Of Water!!

5) Early Recovery Exercises

Once the initial inflammation has died down, early range of motion exercises are important in getting an injured joint back in working order. When it comes to exercises for injury recovery, it is best to seek the guidance of experienced physical therapists at a trusted orthopedic clinic. Physical therapy exercises are best done with an orthopedic provider or sports medicine doctor for a variety of reasons including:

  • Ensuring The Best Exercises For Your Unique Injury
  • Avoiding Further Injury
  • Expert Advice On How To Recover Better and Faster
  • Helps Aid In Injury Prevention
    • In addition to injury recovery, many physical therapy patients experience improved mobility and movement and better balance. This helps prevent sports injuries in the future while also improving general athletic performance!

How Can I Prevent A Sports/Athletic Injury?

The best injury recovery plan is injury prevention. Before hitting the field or gym, there are some basic steps that you can take to prevent injuries. 

  • Stay Active In The Off-Season: Staying active during your off-season helps prevent muscle loss, maintain endurance, retain flexibility, and more.
  • Practice Proper Prep The Day Before: The day before a practice or game is just as important as the day of. Making sure you get plenty of water, a nutritious meal, and the right amount of sleep not only reduces the risk of getting injured but also helps you perform better. 
  • Warm Up & Cool Down: Warming up before competing is vital to prepare your body to play and prevent injury. Some light cardio to get your heart rate up and plenty of stretching to get your muscles loose and flexible can be the difference between a bruise and a torn muscle if you take a fall. Most athletes know the importance of a good warm-up, but a good cool-down is often overlooked. Cooling down after a workout allows your body to gradually recover to your normal heart rate and blood pressure. If you’re not doing an adequate cool-down routine you’re slowing muscle recovery, increasing the risk of an injury, and even reducing the benefits you gained during your workout. 
  • Stay Hydrated: Any athlete knows the importance of staying hydrated during a game, but it’s also vital to be fully hydrated before and after any activity as well. Being properly hydrated not only prevents dehydration but also:
    • Reduces the risk of heat stroke and heat exhaustion 
    • Helps maintain normal blood pressure 
    • Improves blood flow and circulation
    • Improves delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles
  • Avoid Overexertion: If you’re feeling dizzy, nauseous, or lightheaded, it’s important to take a break and drink plenty of water before getting back into the game. If you fall or take a hit and something feels off, don’t ignore it. Continuing to play before seeing a sports medicine provider when you may have an injury can result in a worse injury, longer recovery time, and even lasting damage. 

Expert Sports Medicine Care At A Premier Injury Clinic

From diagnosis and treatment to ongoing care, Iowa Orthopedic Specialists can help put your injury behind you so you can get back to playing the sports you love! We also offer walk-in sports injury clinics starting at 7:30 a.m. Monday - Friday. 

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