Wednesday, January 25, 2012

First Aid & Post-Recovery Strategies

Most people will skip this post thinking that it is a feature on medical first-aid. In fact, it is more. It also pertains to your leadership.

Having healed from injuries, and suffering a few residual ones (stiffness, inflexibility, rheumatism) I have learnt a few useful techniques about self-healing (versus self-medication, which I do not condone especially if you have an existing disease or medical condition or are under medical supervision) that may help you accelerate or exacerbate the painful symptoms of physical injury or trauma.

The sports-aid methodology of RICES holds. RICES is Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation and Support. It helps reduce further damage to the injured part, and treats mostly the symptoms; in most case, this is the preferred result when you are suffering from pain. Pain indicates something is wrong, so pay heed to the source of pain. Is it localized? How wide is the area of impact? Which visible signs of injury can you detect?

1)    With immediate injury from bruising or physical contact, use ice as soon as you can. Ice-therapy reduces the temperature of the injured area, reduces further inflammation, tissue damage, and lessens pain.
2)    A day or two after injury, you can apply deep tissue self-massage to relieve the tightness. One trick is to apply enough pressure on the sore or tender area, for about 5-10 seconds. You can feel it relax. Acupressure – using the fingers as acupuncture needles – can help provide relieve to the tensed muscle. Upon suffering trauma, most muscles tighten into ‘knots’ that are tender spots, and can be gradually softened with direct manual or mechanical contact.
3)    Some physical activity, however mild, draws nutrient-rich blood to the injured area. You can do supported, low-impact activity in the swimming pool or do light, high-cadence, spinning on the stationary-bike or walk.
4)    We are what we eat. GIGO: Garbage in, garbage out. Focus on higher quality foods that provide all the six major nutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fats, water, vitamins and minerals. Herbs can help by accelerating the cleansing and repair processes, however seek a trained TCM specialist for consultation.
5)    Because repair of damaged tissues take precedence, consume slightly more protein for the next few days. Also, consume more antioxidant-filled foods like juices of pomegranate, tart cherry, concord grape and blueberries. If you can consume the fruit all the better.
6)    Monitor the injured area for prolonged pain, or expanded pain. Seek immediate medical attention when you detect peculiarities such discolouration of skin, sharp pains, and reduced mobility (broken bones and fractures can impede movement and breathing).
7)    Sprained (torn) and strained (pulled or over-stretched) muscles take longer to heal because these are soft tissues. Use ice to reduce muscle swelling and when stretching do not exceed its flexibility or you will trigger the stretch reflex.

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