First things first.
I am not telling you to keep squatting on an ACL that you blew out last Sunday while skiing. Or to not take the proper time post surgical repair to let things heal.
What I am referring to is the following type of situation. Imagine if you will:
Your knee has been hurting you for a few weeks. Mostly when you run, but increasingly when you’re just walking, especially upstairs. There was not trauma to your knee; it just started slowly over time.
You go see your doctor (primary care, physical therapist, chiropractor, pick your poison) and they tell you there is nothing seriously wrong (great news!) and you should “Take some ibuprofen, give it a break and rest it for a few weeks.”
YOUR KNEE DOESN’T NEED A BREAK, IT NEEDS ANSWERS!
This boils my blood, and if this scenario sounds ridiculous and incomplete to you, that’s because it is.
Taking ibuprofen will help with the inflammation (more on that some other time…) which may help you move better, and more pain free, but this is only a valuable tool if you are also given the rehab exercises to be performed while moving better.
Taking “time off” when nursing an injury doesn’t do jack squat if you don’t do something to FIX the injury.
If my bike had a flat tire, and I put it in the corner to “rest” for two weeks and then tried to ride it again, the tire would still be flat and I would just look like an idiot.
If you take two weeks off of your preferred exercise routine, but don’t do anything to change the current condition of the injury, then you are going to go back to your fitness routine de-conditioned, in worse shape than you started,
AND YOU WILL STILL HAVE AN INJURY.
Insert exercise modification and rehab exercises here.
In the scenario listed above, there are SO MANY things we could look at to help this athlete/patient make improvements...
What does your running gait look like? Do we need to make changes to your gait so that you don’t continue to overload your knee?
How is your hip strength? Are there exercises we could give you to stabilize the hip and knee long term?
What’s going on with the other leg and/or both ankles? Do you need increased ankle mobility to take stress off of the injured knee?
In my opinion, any athlete (and yes, I believe we are all athletes in some way, shape, or form) who has been told to stop doing what they love without being given something to help move them move towards healing, has been done a disservice.
So let’s dig a little deeper next time an injury pops up.
Sometimes it is something as easy as getting a specific stretch or dynamic warm up from a coach or personal trainer and sometimes it takes a medical professional evaluating your movement patterns and then giving you some homework. Either way, let’s try to patch and fill the bike tire instead of just letting it “rest” pathetically in the corner with dirty laundry hanging off the handles.