The colder months can bring an increased risk of orthopedic pain and injury. Below, we describe a few ways to lessen the misery caused by a winter sports injury.
The M.E.A.T Method (Movement, Exercise, Analgesics, Treatment)
The best way to immediately treat a sprained ankle is to move it. Sound crazy?
You have probably heard of the RICE (rest, compression, elevation, compression) method of treating an injury. This is still an appropriate option for more severe injuries that require complete rest to heal properly. But recent research reveals that an even more effective path to treating most orthopedic injuries is the MEAT Method. This stands for movement, exercise, analgesics, and treatment.
Part of the RICE Method emphasizes decreasing movement and limiting inflammation. But inflammation is a normal and necessary part of the healing process. So, while inflammation should kept in check, for a lot of injuries, following the RICE Method goes a bit overboard in limiting inflammation and restricting blood flow.
Hence, the Meat Method. This treatment strategy involves active recovery and not limiting motion after an acute orthopedic injury.
Movement – Sometimes, complete and total rest is necessary. But if not, this method suggests performing gentle movement within your pain tolerance. And beginning this movement ASAP. This loads the healing structure, and these small forces help it to recover correctly.
Exercise – The next step in the MEAT method involves increasing exercise as your pain decreases.
Analgesics – The term ‘analgesic’ means pain relieving medication. Your doctor may suggest that you try OTC pain relievers at first for your orthopedic pain, such as Tylenol or Advil. If these are not strong enough, you may be a candidate for prescription painkillers.
Treatment - The final step and the key to full recovery and return to activity is orthopedic treatment such as physical therapy. PT involves a wide array of treatments, such as pain-relieving and modalities like ultrasound or electrical stimulation, as well as targeted strengthening and stretching exercises to restore strength and range of motion.
The main part of the RICE protocol that benefits nearly all injuries is the ‘C’ part – compression. When you apply gentle, continuous pressure to the injured area, blood flow is increased. The gentle squeezing performed by an ACE bandage, compression socks or something similar, will perform a little bit of movement for you.
With compression, blood is encouraged to keep pumping and flowing in the correct direction. Compression prevents the pooling of blood which can delay healing, and lead to dizziness, blood clots, and more.
Many clinicians are adopting the mindset that early movement is best. This is contrary to what was until recently accepted as the best initial orthopedic treatment for an acute injury. Barring very severe injuries that require complete and total rest, getting that area moving in a low-impact manner is wonderful.
Low-impact stretches stimulate blood flow and prevent collagen in the nearest joint to the injury from shortening. This will aid in maintaining a full range of motion.
What you put in your body has a major impact on healing. The best foods to eat when recovering from an orthopedic injury should aid in increasing circulation and providing adequate protein.
Increasing protein consumption will aid in maintaining lean muscle mass, which is important when you are not able to be as active as normal. For quality protein sources, focus on chicken, turkey, eggs, and beef. Nuts, beans, tofu, and soy milk are good examples of plant-based protein.
Blood is like the superhighway of the body and carries oxygen to the extremities and other nutrients that aid healing. Circulation must be optimal for fast healing to take place. Circulatory-promoting foods include anything with omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, and walnuts. Some additional foods that are full of antioxidants and nitrates that widen blood vessels, making blood flow easier are pomegranates, garlic, turmeric, and spinach.
Orthopedic Examination & Treatment
As with any injury, healing will take place faster and more effectively under the care of a physician. This is especially true with orthopedic injuries as the area needs to be loaded in the right amount and at the right times. The days and months immediately following an orthopedic injury when healing processes are at their peak is a time you will not have again. So, that time must be spent most efficiently and beneficially regarding your injury.
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