Leg injuries are all too familiar; unfortunately, they are some of the most severe because they take so long to heal. For example, an ACL tear in the knee can sideline a person for a year or longer, depending on their fitness level. Some people never return to normal activity after a serious leg injury.
People hurt their legs all the time. We see high-impact leg injuries in sports like skiing, wakeboarding, basketball, soccer, and other strenuous activities. Other times, people hurt their legs after years of consistent running and face issues with their IT band, nagging shin splints, and other injuries.
Recovering from a leg injury is challenging, but there are things you can do to heal better and reduce your time on the couch. Fighting off inflation, getting proper care, and rest are all examples of basic injury best practices.
Here are some of the essential leg injury recovery tips you should try after you get hurt.
Talk to a Doctor
Anytime an injury is causing severe pain or is taking longer than you expected to heal, you should seek professional medical advice. A doctor can help direct you to the right procedures to understand the severity of your injuries and whether you need something like prescription drugs to speed the healing process.
For example, a physician can book you an appointment for an MRI to look inside your leg to see whether you’ve torn a muscle or ligament. Some leg injuries require surgery to heal fully, and getting the right procedure is the only way to get back to 100 percent.
Resting the Injury
One of the best things you can do to heal a leg injury is to rest the leg. If you sprain your knee, for instance, the last thing you want to do is keep playing active sports or running. Constant strain on the knee can slow the healing process or worsen the injury.
Instead, get some rest to let your body heal the area. Avoid using hurt muscles or putting unnecessary weight on the leg. You can wear crutches, use a wheelchair, or simply stop playing a sport like basketball until your leg feels better.
Ice Your Leg
Use ice to combat inflammation and slow any associated swelling. Fighting off inflammation is one of the most basic things you should do to recover from a leg injury. Use ice packs and ice the injury every 30 minutes or so.
Icing is most important in the hours or days after a leg injury, but it’s an effective tool you should use until you feel better. Buying ice packs is very easy; you can usually find them in pharmacies, grocery stores, or online.
Do your best to elevate the leg when you’re icing it to keep weight off the limb and slow the swelling process.
Use Compression to Heal Faster
Compression, along with rest and ice, reduces inflammation and helps you recover faster. Whether it’s a compression wrap or a tight knee brace, you should keep a healthy amount of pressure on the injury to avoid excess swelling that will slow you down and take longer to heal.
Return to Normal Activity Slowly
Leg injuries should be treated carefully, and people should avoid returning to sports and other intense activities too early. People constantly re-injure themselves by returning from leg injuries before they’re ready.
For example, tendons and ligaments in the knee take much longer to heal than muscles. Even if your leg feels fine, you may not be completely better. In the meantime, you should slowly work to strengthen the stabilizing muscles around any injured joint with slow exercises without too much weight.
When you do start to return to normal activities, you should do so slowly. If you’re a runner, start with light jogs and build from there in increments.
Try to Lose Excess Weight
Carrying around too much extra weight can make recovering from a leg injury much harder. The weight strains your muscles, joints, and bones, and it can cause more inflammation and slow the healing process.
While you’re recovering, focus on eating a healthier diet. You may also be able to do low-impact training like swimming that doesn’t stress the leg.
Losing weight is fantastic for overall health and improves your immune system for faster injury recovery.
Peptides & Injury Recovery
For years, researchers have been studying peptides and their healing properties. These short chains of amino acids trigger specific biological responses, and they’ve been shown in animal models to be effective at promoting healing, building muscle, and increasing bone density, among other benefits.
One healing peptide named KPV, for example, shows in animal research that it promotes homeostasis, reduces inflammation, and can reduce scar formation, which are all important aspects of recovering from certain leg injuries.
No one loves dealing with leg injuries, but they’re extremely common. The right approach to treatment and the appropriate amount of rest will help get you back on your feet or playing your favorite sport as quickly as possible. Following the basics will get you there sooner.
Be serious about recovery because it’s relatively easy to re-injure a leg. Unfortunately, legs can take months to heal after a serious strain or ligament tear. As always, talk to your doctor about the best possible treatments and follow a strict physical therapy regimen to strengthen your muscles and heal your body faster.