Wellness: The Five S’s Of Healing

Recovering from adventure sport injuries doesn’t get easier with practice. It’s as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Over the years I’ve developed a long list of injuries and a short list of tools that help keep mind and body both fit and happy. These 5 S’s of Healing helped get me through multiple knee surgeries, concussions, broken bones, whiplash and even a broken heart. The journey from cast to saddle can be a long ride, but it doesn’t all have to suck. —Carmen Kuntz

 

WellnessCast
Dave Barnes Illustration

SUNSHINE
It’s primal: hot sun on bare skin just feels good.

“The warmth of the sun is a pleasurable sensation that can distract from any discomfort associated with an injury,” says Dr. Laurel Paterson a Vancouver-based Registered Psychologist. “Sunshine and exposure to light can lead to better sleep which can help mood and recovery.”

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According to the Dietitians of Canada, recent research suggests vitamin D may boost the immune system and keep infection at bay; which isn’t a bad thing if you are going under the knife. And if you’re bound to crutches or locked in a cast watching your muscle mass disappear before your eyes . . . at least you can hide behind a golden tan.

“Recent research suggests vitamin D may boost the immune system and keep infection at bay; which isn’t a bad thing if you are going under the knife.”

SWIMMING
When experiencing the limited terrestrial mobility that comes with injured lower extremities, getting in the water gives you the freedom of movement you crave.

“Swimming and aquatic exercises can be excellent for rehabbing joint injuries, provided that you’re in a suitable stage of healing,” says physiotherapist, Pat McKinnon. With offices in Squamish and Pemberton, McKinnon gives a thumbs up to water rehab – in the lake, ocean or pool. “It’s a great, low-impact aerobic activity, and the buoyancy of the water often allows you to perform certain actions in the pool that you might not yet otherwise be able to do on land.” Tempting as it may be, stay away from the diving board.

“The buoyancy of the water often allows you to perform certain actions in the pool that you might not yet otherwise be able to do on land.”

SUSHI
Food is healing and we are what we eat.

I dig sushi—protein, carbs and wasabi—yes please. Reward yourself after a tough physio session or use it as pick-me-up therapy when you’re feeling blue. Any food you love will help, but consume greasy and sweet in moderation and avoid processed sugars and any food you might be allergic to; both can contribute to inflammation. And drink lots of water; it’s important in healing and helps douse the fires of inflammation.

“Consume greasy and sweet in moderation and avoid processed sugars and any food you might be allergic to; both can contribute to inflammation.”

STRETCHNG
Motion is lotion.

After an initial period of immobility allowing the injury to heal, there will likely be some tight muscles and stiffness.

“Regular stretching and mobility exercises can help to keep this tension manageable,” McKinnon says. “There are all kinds of pieces of equipment that can be helpful for self-managing myofascial tension, including yoga mats, foam rollers and myofascial balls.”

Even a quick ten-minute session can leave you feeling recharged and more relaxed. As a mental break, stretching (and breathing) can calm the mind and help distract you from all the epic surf/climb/bike/paddle/whatever photos your buddies are posting online.

“As a mental break, stretching (and breathing) can calm the mind and help distract you from all the epic surf/climb/bike/paddle/whatever photos your buddies are posting online.”

SEX
The original “alternative physical activity” has health benefits; mentally and physically.

Sex is said to be an immune system booster, calorie burner, and can also reduce pain. “There is a huge release of hormones with orgasm and oxytocin is one of those hormones,” says Paterson, who specializes in couples and sex therapy. “For both men and women there are muscle contractions of the pelvic floor during an orgasm, and a release of muscle tension can help decrease pain,” Paterson says.

A romp in the sheets will get your heart rate up and most positions can be modified to accommodate almost any injury. Discover the sex appeal in plaster, slings, Velcro and crutches! An orgasm beats aspirin every time and “cuddle hormone” oxytocin has been used as a pain medication and a way to modulate stress response.

“An orgasm beats aspirin every time and “cuddle hormone” oxytocin has been used as a pain medication and a way to modulate stress response.”

And that’s it, your prescription for healing this summer is find a cutie, grab some sushi, head to the lake and throw down a yoga mat in the sun. Actually, that sounds like a good time whether you are injured or not. Play safe.


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