There is nothing more frustrating than experiencing an injury that keeps you from doing what you love to do. Especially hiking. After completing a three week journey on the Allegheny Trail, I came home, did too much, and ended up with severe hip pain and sciatica. Diagnosis - hip separation and muscle overuse (possible pitiformis syndrome). So now I am sidelined. I am no longer a happy hiker, enjoying the fall colors but resigned to icing, Physical Therapy, and simple walks. I’ve had injuries that have given me issues for many years. It’s not an easy thing to deal with when you are active.
So what do you do when injury strikes?
1. First off, if you’ve suffered an injury, don’t be brave and keep hiking on it. You’ll just do worse damage. Pain and swelling is your body trying to tell you to STOP. So stop hiking. Period.
2. RICE. Rest, ice, elevation, compression. DO it immediately after an injury happens. Don’t wait 24 hrs. It impedes the healing process. And be sure its ICE. Don’t ever put heat on an injury. If your stomach can handle it, taking ibuprofen (Advil) helps ease the inflammation. If you can’t, Tylenol helps with pain. Turmeric is said to be an anti-inflammatory; you can get it in pill form.
3. See the doctor. Many times you can try to deal with the injury at home. But in my case I did not wait. And sometimes it's good not to, to ward off other issues (like scar tissue forming). In severe cases with major swelling, pain, etc., you need a doctor to evaluate it. You may need x-rays to make sure something isn’t broken. You may need physical therapy to get back in the groove as soon as the injury allows. With the cost of medical care, sometimes this is put off. Only you know how bad it is.
4. Eat nutritious food. If you are going to be sidelined for a while, be sure the food you eat is good for you. Don’t eat sugar and useless carbs thinking it will make you feel better. It won’t and may even worsen things. Protein, fiber-based foods, and lots of water are important to the healing process and for your well-being.
5. Try not to get depressed. Easier said than done, especially when you see your buddies hiking and you’re sitting. But most have suffered like you have in one form or another. Most have been sidelined. Think of this as rest time to do other things that maybe you haven’t done. Think of the projects you can accomplish while you’re mending. Be sure to be outside too as sunshine is important to elevating your mood. Talk to others that have had injuries. Above all, give yourself time to heal by giving your body (and you) a break.
7. Above all, be patient. It takes time to heal ligaments, tendons, and bones. Let your body do its job. Then you will be raring to go and ready to tackle that trail in no time. Remember, the trail is going nowhere. You will be back when the time is perfect.