When we get injured, sometimes the only thing we can think about is healing…and healing quickly. But healing is a gradual process. The body heals on its own time–and that timeframe is different for everyone. We can do certain things to speed up the healing process, but these things must be done properly and correctly. We can also do plenty of things to slow down the healing process. These five things can slow down your healing, and we want to avoid these at all costs.
Movement is almost always encouraged when you’re healing from an injury or suffer from chronic pain. It can be even more effective than the tried-and-true RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) method. Research has shown that inactivity shuts down muscles, restricting blood flow to the injured area and leading to tissue atrophy. On the other hand, movement improves blood flow, which drives oxygen to heal the injured area, removes metabolic waste, and stimulates tissue healing.
Now, there is a limit. Overextending yourself can lead to reinjury, and that can result in months of healing gone to waste. Talk to your doctor and your physical therapist about the right amount of movement for your specific injury or condition, and plan a routine based on that recommendation.
Surprisingly enough, a poor diet lacking proper nutrition can actually slow down the healing process. According to medical research, deficiencies of energy, vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients (like protein) will decrease the speed at which you heal and will also expedite the loss of muscle and tendon mass and function. When you’re rehabbing or recovering, avoiding nutrient deficiencies is critical. Foods rich in protein, fiber, vitamin C, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, calcium, and zinc (among others) can help you recover more quickly. Healthline offers a great list of vital foods that provide the proper nutrition as you recover.
3. Lack of Communication with Your Physical Therapist
We’ve mentioned it before…communication with your physical therapist is key! If you’re not communicating your condition, pain level, or comfort level, you may wind up in worse shape than you were in before working with your PT! A physical therapist is there to help you heal and recover in the right amount of time, so you can get back to your daily activities and be comfortable doing so. If a particular exercise or treatment is causing you pain, be sure to let your PT know! Your well-being is what matters to them, and the last thing they want to see is you suffering a setback. Physical therapy treatments can always be adjusted to accommodate your comfort. Sure, there will be times your PT pushes you to work hard, but they never want to see you injured or uncomfortable. So, keep those lines of communication open!
4. Skipping Your PT Sessions
Look, we know not everyone looks forward to their physical therapy sessions. They can be exhausting and frustrating and sometimes a bit painful–but it’s all about the end goal, the finish line. All of the work you put in during PT and rehab will pay off big time in the end. A physical therapist creates a treatment plan with precision, knowing exactly what will help you heal and how long it should take. If you skip your PT sessions, you’re setting yourself back. The time lost from a missed session just needs to be made up at the next session–in fact, you might even have to go back a couple of sessions to compensate for the progress you missed. Healing is a gradual process; unfortunately, it’s not one that happens overnight. Attend your scheduled PT sessions, and you’ll recover and feel fantastic before you know it. Skip your PT sessions, and you’re just prolonging the process.
5. Working with a Physical Therapist You Don’t “Click” With
Just like any other relationship, bad matches happen from time to time. On a rare occasion, you might be paired with a PT whom you simply don’t have a good relationship with, whom you aren’t on the same page with, or who simply works at a pace that is not your liking. The solution? Call your PT provider/location and request a new physical therapist. It’s that simple. When you’re involved in PT to heal, you need to be engaged, motivated, and (reasonably) happy to be there. If you’re miserable and disengaged, your PT just isn’t going to work. As a bonus, if you’re happy, you can heal faster! It’s true…studies show that happy people experience faster recovery times when overcoming illness or surgery, not to mention a long list of other health benefits.
Getting Physical Therapy in Irving
At Physical Therapy NOW, we want you to heal, and we want you to heal quickly. But we’ll never rush the process. Our experienced physical therapists will review your injury or condition with you and design a treatment plan specifically for you. As you move through the recovery and healing process, your PT may adjust timelines or treatment options along the way to account for your comfort level and progress. Remember, communication is key! Call Physical Therapy NOW today at 800.481.4582 to set up your first appointment in one of our many convenient, state-of-the-art locations.