How to heal injury, whether mental or physical
‘Dear Sir or Madam won’t you read my blog, it took me years to write, won’t you take a look…’
Why a website about healing injury?
I am going to tell you the things I wish they’d told me.
Some background; a few years ago I experienced a string of injuries in a relatively short period of time. At the time I didn’t even realise that they were injuries. I eventually noticed patterns with what was going on and decided to set up a website so that I could record what I was experiencing, not forget what I had learnt and organise my thoughts. Hopefully this may be useful to somebody else. Somehow this makes it feel more meaningful. The website is itself a healing exercise for me.
You can heal
One of the main things that I learnt is that we have our own healing power. I am not seeking to deride professionals, they have their place but the most important person is you. Are doctors, physios and other professionals. inclined to justify their roles and be reticent about sharing the ‘secret’ that we have the power within to heal? I don’t know. I also think that understanding injury is important so I want to present a structured approach that is derived from sports science rather than a list of tips, so that you are better equipped to treat and most importantly avoid injury.
Lack of information about healing and injury
In my experience there is a dearth of good quality information on this topic and injury prevention is an important but neglected issue even though most injuries are preventable or can be healed with the right approach . If they are not prevented or handled in the right way they can lead to lifelong disability. Unfortunately there are also not enough warnings given about how certain apparently innocuous activities can lead to injury.
What is different about what I am saying?
I focus mainly on overuse injury because it is what I have mainly experienced (the only acute injury that I have experienced is concussion so I touch on this topic). Overuse injury is also complex, frequently underdiagnosed and less well known and understood even though it is more common than acute injury. Its underdiagnosis and poor treatment probably costs the NHS billions every year and of course many people could avoid unnecessary pain and disability.
I am seeking to offer approaches that are empowering, offer new perspectives and that are scientific but holistic:
Empowering. – I am offering suggestions on things that you can do yourself. These suggestions include ‘Restology‘, i.e.the correct way to rest. I also look at how you can avoid injury by predicting what kind of injury you are likely to succumb to.
New perspectives – I draw parallels between a range of physical injuries that are not usually connected and mental injury. I then apply this logical approach to these apparently different conditions and offer a new perspective on the treatment of anxiety and depression which I see as a kind of Repetitive Brain Injury (RBI) and people who experience these problems as psychological athletes. I also postulate that there is an overuse injury syndrome where somebody can be affected by a number of apparently unaffected injuries.
Scientific. I take a logical and systematic approach to injury rather than just offer a random list of tips. This involves using the scientifically based principles of sports medicine and applying them to other athletes, including artistic or musical (artletes), occupational (occletes) and psychological athletes (anx-letes). I aim to create a new understanding by synthesising my own real experiences of injury with what I deem to be reputable sources e.g. Stop Sports Injury.Org.
Holistic. I take a holistic approach that includes looking at the factors that cause injury, including psychological factors such as Cyberchondria, biological vulnerabilities such as anatomical variations and social factors such as the Triage system that is used in the U.K. for treating musculoskeletal disorders.
Objective I don’t make any money from this website. I am not plugging a herb, a product, a medical procedure, a drug or a physiotherapy practice so hopefully you will find that it is more objective than some other sources of information.
I must stress that these are my own personal reflections and should not be taken as an alternative to seeking appropriate qualified medical expertise or using your own good judgement. The human body is infinitely complex and what I say in these pages may not even apply to you and your situation so you must proceed with the utmost caution with anything that you read on the Internet, or that people glibly say or that you read in popular self-help books. The best approach is a timely thorough examination by a specialist, and even then you may need to get a second or third opinion and piece together a complete picture by combining what different experts have told you.
I am presenting approaches for maximising the chance of avoiding and healing injury, and am not claiming that all injury can be avoided and healed.
Who is this website for?
Anybody can be affected by injury so in a sense it is for anyone. However it is particularly appropriate for people who are exercising for remedial purposes, sports people of all ages including children, computer users, musicians and people experiencing anxiety or depression. Sports players are obviously athletes because of the high levels of physical stress that their bodies are exposed to, but so are ‘othletes’, occupational athletes such as computer users and artists (‘artletes‘), and – in my opinion – sufferers of anxiety and depression are ‘anxletes’ i.e. people whose minds are subject to high levels of mental stress. Therefore similar approaches that are used in sports medicine can be applied to ‘othletes’, ‘artletes’ and maybe even ‘anxletes’.
Since I am a musician, musicians are the artletes that I am focusing on here The section on the prevention and treatment of musician and vocalist injuries offers a tailored approach on how to treat these injuries. Musician and vocalist injuries are rarely mentioned in the world of music, in my experience, but they can have a devastating effect. Music can also be a form of healing and constitute an element of an individual’s healing programme.
If you have a mental health problem then you need to be a psychological athlete. Let me explain. I believe that my first insight was that books or web articles about Repetitive Strain Injury of the hands never connect it to vocal overuse injuries or the other myriad of overuse injuries that can effect any part of the body. It is therefore maybe no surprise that nobody has made the connection between these injuries as a whole and mental health issues that have been caused by mental trauma/overuse. Having experienced Repetitive Strain Injury of the hands, vocal cords, and joints I realised that these are all connected. I also began to think that the anxiety that I have experienced since my teenage years had followed a similar path to the physical overuse injuries and so I am speculating that anxiety and maybe other mental health issues may also be a kind of overuse injury or ‘Repetitive Brain Injury’.
Emotional stress can make one prone to developing physical injuries and physical injuries can also cause emotional stress. Maybe these two processes interact causing a vicious circle of physical injuries that cascade and emotional stress that also spirals upwards. So controlling anxiety, depression and stress should also be of interest to all sports people.
In the same way that understanding gained from the field of sports injury can offer a new approach to the treatment of anxiety and depression, understanding the treatment of anxiety and depression can also shed light on the field of sports injury.
Remember, sports injuries do not just affect elite athletes but anyone who picks up a racket, kicks a ball, rides a bike, attends a yoga class or undertakes remedial exercises to correct their existing injuries.
How to rest properly is, I believe, not obvious. Even the notion of ‘rest’ is not a simple phenomenon. In fact, that is one of the puzzles with overuse injury – it seems like a simple thing, but it isn’t which is why so much injury is not prevented. I shall try to offer useful suggestions about how to use this most powerful weapon against injury.
Can you help?
Currently the thinking here is based on my own experiences, though I will include scientific data if I can get access to medical scientific literature either for free or at a reasonable price. If you can help me access scientific information please contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can contact me via email@example.com if you think that anything on the website is inaccurate or if you have something constructive to share. Follow me on twitter via @healinginjury