Exercise 101: I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up

It happens to the best of us. Look at Jack, he fell down and broke his crown and Jill came tumbling after. An accident or sports related injury can be very difficult to overcome. Sometimes you’re never quite the same. As Americans we’re a bit programmed to head to the doctor for a pill of some sort. And unfortunately the vast majority of them are willing to write you a script and send you on your way. About two years ago I hurt my lower back playing soccer, this unfortunately coincided with a terrible shoulder pain. I finally dragged myself to the doctor as I had to practically crawl off the soccer field. X-rays were done and thankfully nothing broken, bulging or otherwise out of place. The next thing I know the doctor wrote me a prescription for something. He didn’t tell me what it was or what it was supposed to do.

I saw a different doctor in the same clinic that day for the shoulder. He asked me if I had ever hurt my shoulder before, I said “no”. Not so much. Turns out I had separated my shoulder at some point in the past and it may have aggravated my rotator cuff. There was no way to know the cause for sure. He chuckled as he asked “didn’t it hurt when you separated your shoulder?” To which I sheepishly replied “I’m sure it did. But in my house if you were still breathing and not losing blood you’re good.” As he reached for the prescription pad I told him I would prefer physical therapy. He looked positively thrilled. They have an amazing facility and can also rehabilitate my back as well. I never filled the prescription and after about six weeks of physical therapy I felt great. 100% for recovery for my shoulder and 85-90% for my back.

The United States is one of the most over-medicated countries in the world. In case you missed it, the FDA has issued warnings about medications containing codeine causing liver damage. According to the Center for Disease Control in 2010 almost half of Americans,  47.5%, used a prescription drug in one month. The number of drugs provided or ordered during physician visits was 2.6 billion. Black women outpace black men in every age category except under 18. The gap is the widest in the 45-64 year old age group. These are great reasons to give physical therapy a try.

A physical therapist is not a trainer though they may have overlapping qualifications. A physical therapist will work with a physician to properly identify your injury and develop a course of exercises that are meant to strengthen or heal the injured body part. This is not to say that medicine doesn’t have its place. If a doctor thinks your injury is treatable solely with pills, ask for a reference to a physical therapist and see if over-the-counter medications will help with the discomfort and pain. Medication isn’t the only solution and in some cases should probably be the secondary solution. In my case I continued with OTC pain killers, good old fashion icing/heating and physical therapy. This solution I think also lasted a lot longer.

Most of these medications are meant to reduce the pain while the body heals. But this doesn’t help the body heal and you may miss the opportunity to help it heal properly. Consider adding physical therapy to your treatment regimen the next time you get hurt. Consult a physician on the type and severity of the injury. This is not something you should embark on after consulting the internet. Some movements may worsen your condition. Let your doctor know you want a comprehensive recovery plan that includes both, but that you don’t want to rely on the medication.

Explore using foods to help your recovery. The body’s response to an injury is inflammation. Ironically this response can make things worse sometimes. There are foods that help reduce the body’s inflammatory response that also have the potential to reduce pain and discomfort. Don’t just take that script. Ask questions. It’s your body and your health. You are your own best advocate.

Feel free to share your story, comments and share.



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