What do I do when I get injured?

About a month and a half ago, I was doing some very intense workouts. One of them was the “Deck of Cards” workout. The way you do this workout is that you assign a movement/exercise to each suit. You shuffle the deck, and start flipping the cards one by one. And you do the exercise as many reps as the card number says. Jacks are 11, Queens are 12, Kings are 13 and Aces are 15 (at least that’s how I do it). For example, my workout was as follows: Spades are 50-lb kettlebell swings, Clubs are 50-lb kettlebell goblet squats, Diamonds are push-ups, and Hearts are burpees (because who doesn’t love burpees). So, if the card was Jack of Spades, I did 11 50-lb kettlebell swings. If the card was 9 of Hearts, I did 9 burpees. If the card was Ace of Diamonds, I did 15 push-ups. You go through all the cards in the deck (it’s a brutal workout, so you may want to just ease into this) and at the end of the workout, you end up doing 105 reps of each exercise. Oh by the way, you try to rest as little as possible between the cards. So, it gets pretty high-intensity pretty quick. This type of workout can be very torture-like. Anyways, I did this on a Thursday and I was feeling it the next two days. However, instead of going for easy walks, or foam rolling, or some hot/cold contrast showers, I decided to play pick-up basketball on Saturday. My lower back was kind of in pain, but I was pushing through it. At some point, when I was jogging up and down the court, I heard something pop in my lower back and my body immediately stopped me. It was basically saying “No more running for you! You should be thankful to be walking right now!” I was in so much pain that day. At night, my left leg was feeling numb down to my knee, and my right leg was starting to feel numb as well, but not as bad as my left one. There was a big pain on my lower back. Moving around, sitting up and down, the basic movements were causing so much pain. I had woken up 9 times that night with about 4.5 hours of total sleep (I use Oura Ring to track sleep; it’s probably the best sleep tracker out there and it’s very stylish). I did some research on what it could have been and the symptoms were showing sciatica. I ended up going to a chiropractor on Monday. She did some twisting and popping and putting stuff into its place. She told me that the workout I had done was too much. And, she also mentioned that my left hip needed opening-up. I knew about this, but I wasn’t doing anything about it. But after that day, remembering how much pain I was in, I started doing basic foam rolling and stretching for about 5 minutes every day. My left hip was not all to blame, but it definitely played a part. Anyways, when you suffer an injury like that, or like an ankle twist, the body’s first response is inflammation. So, you want to take anti-inflammatory stuff. Also, in order to heal scarred tissue, your body needs certain other nutrients. In today’s post, I wanted to let you know about what I do to heal faster when I get injured.

First, you do not want to make your body deal with any kind of stressors. These can be food you eat, the blue-light at night, any hard exercise, etc. You want to create an environment where your body can heal. So, your body should be low-inflammatory and packed with nutrients. You should try to limit your blue light exposure at night by wearing blue-light blocking glasses. My food choices are usually eggs and greens for breakfast, a salad with fish for lunch and sweet potatoes with chicken for dinner. I keep it simple. But I also take some supplements to heal a little faster and here they are:

·      Collagen Hydrolysate (by Green Lakes): Collagen protein is very important during healing. Most of us do not get enough collagen with our diets (unless you drink bone broth every day) anyways, but during injury, it’s much more important. I take 15 grams of collagen everyday whether I am injured or not, but the dose goes up to 30 grams when I am injured.

·      Turmeric/Curcumin: I use turmeric, at least two teaspoons, on my lunch. It’s one of the most powerful anti-inflammatory foods I know. I also add some black pepper to make the absorption higher. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric. So, during healing, I also take 1 gram of Curcumin Phytosome (Jarrow Formulas or Doctor’s Best). The absorption of curcumin phytosome is higher than regular curcumin supplements because it is bound to a fat. By the way, if you are using curcumin supplement with no black pepper extract (BioPerine) in it, you may be wasting your money.

·      Four Sigmatic Viking blend: This blend is packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. It has 600 mg of sea buckthorn berry, 500 mg of nettle root, 300 mg of dual-extracted Chaga mushroom, 300 mg of pine bark, and 300 mg of Rhodiola root. To be honest, I use this blend every day whether I am injured or not because it is great for your body. But, when I am injured I take 1 teaspoon in the morning and 1 teaspoon in the afternoon. (To get 15% off on all Four Sigmatic products, you can check them out at http://www.us.foursigmatic.com/#_a_balabanmb and use the promo code: balabanmb at checkout to get 15% discount.)

·      Zinc: Zinc is a very important mineral. It is basically used to make anything and everything in your body. I usually try to get zinc through my food like eating oysters, or high quality red meat, but during injury I make sure to supplement with zinc. I use Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance. Each capsule is 15 mg of zinc bound to methionine which should make the absorption good. It also comes with 1 mg of copper. Because, zinc to copper ratio is very important. You do not want to get high zinc without the proper copper intake. Also try to take this on empty stomach because food can cause improper zinc absorption due to phytates.

·      Vitamin-C: I eat foods that are high in vitamin-C such as green peppers, kale, broccoli and Brussel sprouts. Vitamin-C is crucial to have collagen protein synthesis in the body. And as mentioned above, collagen is very important during healing. I try to have my collagen protein (about 30 grams) with vitamin-C rich foods. You can also supplement with it, but I don’t think you need to because you should be able to find vitamin-C rich foods. I try to eat about 200 mg of vitamin-C with my collagen protein during a meal.

·      Sleep supplements: When the pain is above a certain threshold, sleeping can be problematic. Even the little movements and turns can wake you up at night. I take 2 capsules of Jarrow Formulas Sleep Optimizer 30-45 minutes before going to bed. This supplement has 0.3 mg of Melatonin in it which seems to be the ideal amount not to mess up your body’s own melatonin production. It also has PharmGABA in it which can really relax you at night.

In addition to the things above, I also take 2 grams of fish oil with dinner if I have not eaten fish that day. There are other things I do as well. For example, during the first three days of injury, hot/cold contrast can be very helpful. You can do this by taking a contrast shower. You can do 30 seconds of cold, followed by 30 seconds of hot water 5-10 times. Or you can apply ice packs and hot patches/lotions. After the third day, heat is your friend as my chiropractor told me. So, after the third day, you can sit in a hot tub, or a sauna. As further instructed by my chiropractor, when the pain is low enough, you want to stop guarding yourself. You want to do light movements and stretches in the area, so that stuff can move around and heal.

So, there you go. Nothing you read here is a medical advice. It’s just the things I do. Following this protocol really helps me. Please consult with your doctor and do your own research. Injuries are not fun! But, there are certain things you can do to heal faster.