Whether it’s a sudden rolled ankle or tennis elbow from chronic overuse, a Naturopathic Doctor (ND) can help you on the road to recovery. Acute trauma often causes swelling, pain, redness, warmth, and loss of motion - the hallmarks of inflammation. Acute injury can halt training as well as daily life. NDs are trained in several modalities to help relieve the immediate discomfort, promote and speed healing, and get you back to the activities you love. Prevention is key in naturopathic medicine and so preventing future injuries from occurring is paramount.
Often when we first experience acute injury, our first reaction is to stop completely and hobble like a champ. Of course, this is a reasonable approach - to a certain extent. Your ND can help guide you through the healing process and help to strengthen your body and teach you proper technique to avoid injury in the future. Injuries should be assessed and treated sooner rather than later to prevent stubborn scar tissue formation and poor compensation strains.
NDs will often use acupuncture to provide pain relief at the site and also experienced in compensatory muscles. Trigger points (tender spots causing pain at a neighbouring site) and knots are found and released. The needles help to increase the flow of blood and oxygen into an otherwise blocked area. By releasing the tension from the muscles, they can then function efficiently and pain-free with the rest of the muscular system. I often use electrostimulation with the needles, such as TENS or microcurrent, to help with pain management and assist the healing process. Natural remedies for pain management and inflammation control, such as fish oil or turmeric, can aid in decreasing pain.
Having the basic building blocks available to the tissues allows a swift recovery from injury. Ensuring proper amounts of vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in the diet can help to speed recovery and allow the body to repair collagen with minimal scar tissue. NDs will analyze your diet to ensure you are taking in enough of these building blocks. If necessary, dietary modifications can be made or a supplement can be suggested.
Your ND will teach proper biomechanics to help ease you back into sport or your daily life and prevent future injury. Active recovery is part of preventing scar tissue formation and helps to speed the recovery process (“use it or lose it” as they say).
Often when athletes train, they focus on building and tend to be lenient on the recovery side of things. Recovery is the absolute most important part of training - it allows the body time to recover from the microdamage done during the training session and to over-compensate for the additional stress leading to gains. Finding this balance is delicate and takes some skill. It is a fine balance between pushing through building and allowing to rest. But rest doesn’t have to mean sitting on the couch. Balancing strengthening with stretching activities such as yoga or pilates help to build resilience in the muscles to prevent future injury, and rebalances the body. Tight structures need to be loosened and weak structures strengthened in order to achieve optimal biomechanics and balance in the body. This helps to prevent future injury.
In addition to injury management, an ND will take your entire health into consideration. Signs and symptoms of overtraining, for example, extend far beyond lack of performance and fatigue. Disturbances in recovery, sleep, mood, concentration, and immune system function are often seen but may not be addressed by other practitioners. The holistic approach taken by an ND provides complete athletic support to treat and prevent injury, enhance performance, and help you to train smart and healthy.