I want to talk a little about healing the body from physical trauma – however big or small. My friend, Daniella, recently had a tumble on the bike, which left her with a bloody knee, a sore shoulder and wrist and a slight fractured ego.
Unable to work out, Daniella was obviously a little bummed because she was very much enjoyed her movement practice, not to mention her career as a professional yoga and model! But at the end of the day, she needed to heal.
It’s easy to get out of the habit of working out and self-care, so I was brainstorming what to do with the time that would have been spent exercising and remedies on how to allow the body to heal in the most time-efficient way, without compromising ANYTHING. Also, because I’ve been injured in the past and it’s been super frustrating to have that as a set back.
Neither my friend nor I are big fans of ibuprofen, acetaminophen and other pain killers/drugs, as they both contain toxic and overprescribed chemicals that can easily be avoided.
When you’re injured and wanting to let your body heal, here are some go-to’s to try if the injuries aren’t serious enough to require medical attention.
- Find other ways to use your energy and time. You’re limited on the physical expenditure of energy, so find a different way to channel your energy. This is a great time to read book(s) you have been wanting to read, start or hone in on your meditation practice, write, play a musical instrument, clean up your diet, do a fast, or other avenues to let out your energy and creativity. With past injuries, I have gone a little stir crazy, have felt limited or even gotten frustrated by them, thinking, “I was finally where I wanted to be,” or “I was doing such a good job!” Now when I’m unable to workout, I fill that time with something else that inspires me and allows the mind and body new opportunities. Open yourself up to new possibilities. I like to think of it as the universe telling my I need to focus my energy elsewhere, that it needs my services in a different manner. Sometimes that elsewhere, or change, needs to be explored. Just think of all the fun and exciting things you can do now!
- Stay hydrated. Being hydrated is key to keeping your cells working properly. Your whole body needs to be hydrated and oxygenated (water helps transport oxygen to the cells). If your body is hydrated and oxygenated it has the ability to flow, absorb, detoxify and HEAL much better.
- Rest. This cannot be stated enough. When you are injured, you have to let your body heal before continuing to do the same physical movements that you could do when your body was pre-injury. For example, the skin on the injured knee needs to be rebuild & replace itself. This process would take a lot longer with the constant bending and would lengthen the time the body has to make a new protective layer of skin. Her bruised and sore shoulder obviously have muscles that have inflammation and tightness. If you try to do strenuous exercise, those injuries will take much longer to heal with possible side-effect injuries that can happen when the body needs to compensate for the initial injury! This does not mean you can’t move at all, it means finding something less strenuous like gentle yoga, stretching, walking, etc… If you’re used to going to the gym for an hour, spend that hour doing the new activity. The whole hour. For example, spend a whole hour stretching! You’ll realize how much of the body you can stretch and how good your body can feel with you give it a different attention than you’re used to. Spending say 1-3 minutes per pose and per side, will leave you feeling less tense, relaxed and more mobile – all good things!
- Eat healthy. Eat seasonally, organically grown produce with a wide variety of colors. Skip anything processed, sugar, gluten, grains and/or animal products. Doesn’t this sound like you’re giving your body the best chance to heal and thrive? I think by this point, everyone should know why this is important – a diet with an abundance of nutrients, anti-inflammatory properties, etc… This is a no-brainer.
- Eat foods that are easy to digest. When you eat ingredients that are easy to digest your body doesn’t have to work hard to get the nutritional benefits from food. Think of all the energy your body has to do to breakdown food. If you are eating foods like soups, soft lettuces (vs. kale/cruciferous veggies), broths, cooked & soft root veggies and/or raw & ripe fruits, the body doesn’t have to work as much or has hard. This easily digestible food allows that energy that would have been used for digestion to go to other parts of the body to heal your wounds and sore muscles.
- Eliminate animal meats & dairy from your diet. This is a big one. By limiting or eliminating meat & dairy consumption you’re taking away some of the hardest things to digest. For example, red meat sits in your stomach much longer than a mango. This will take a lot more energy to breakdown. BUT, we want that energy to go to healing the body, not breaking down food! Allow that energy to go elsewhere during this healing process. Plus, meat & dairy are some of the most inflammatory foods, even when they’re organic. Toxins sit in the flesh and fat of animals which then going into our bodies! You can decide to go back to eating occational animal proteins after you are healed, but during an injury, try taking a break. Notice how you feel as well, you might not even crave it as much once you’ve introduced other nutritious foods into your regimen.
- Bone broths can be very healing at this time as the nutrients (i,e., collagen) have already been broken down and ready for your body to use. Your body doesn’t have to do much work to get the benefits.
- Include anti-inflammatory foods into your diet. Turmeric and ginger are big here but there are lots of other fruits, herbs, spices and veggies that can be used. Turmeric & ginger in particular can be made into teas or tonics, or added to stir-fries or soups.
- Hot & cold compresses. Alternating hot & cold compresses allows new blood to circulate into the injured area. Hot will bring new blood and cold will decrease inflammation & promote proper circulation. Careful not to heat without ice – the swelling will take longer to go down without the aid of the ice compress.
- Do a cleanse or a fast. By eliminating food, doing a melon or citrus cleanse (only eating melons or citrus), doing the master lemonade cleanse, a grape juice fast, intermittent fasting, or another type of cleanse, you are minimizing the energy expenditure on your body and allowing that energy to go to healing the body. Keep a lookout for better breakdowns of the different types of fast & cleanse for their actual purpose, and it’s not to lose weight! Losing weight is definitely an added benefit. However, many people doing it for that reason tend to do them incorrectly. The short answer purpose is for healing & detoxifying the body. But, for another post.