Being active offers a wide range of health benefits, but this kind of lifestyle can also increase your risk of getting hurt. Certain injuries, such as a bone fracture or break, can sideline you for months and make it difficult for you to stay involved in activities and events you once enjoyed.
Don't let a bone injury be the end of your active lifestyle. By developing a plan for a safe recovery, you can help ensure that your bone heals as completely as possible. This minimizes the effects of a bone injury on the rest of your life and lets you get back to your normal routine as soon as possible.
Your bones are living tissues that grow throughout your lifespan. The majority of bone is made up of collagen, a protein that provides the structural framework for each bone in your body. A mineral called calcium phosphate hardens this framework and adds strength to your bones.
As you age, your bones constantly restore themselves through a technique known as remodeling. Remodeling is a two-part process: first, special bone cells called osteoclasts help break down and dispose of old bone tissue. Then other bone cells called osteoblasts make new bone that replaces the old bone.
The remodeling process peaks around age 30 and then starts to reverse. This reversal may lead to significant bone loss as you age, making bone injuries more likely to occur. You may experience bone fractures as a result of trauma from a fall, diseases such as osteoporosis, or even overuse.
Steps to Minimizing the Effects of Bone Injury
If you have a bone fracture, you may think you can't return to your active lifestyle after your healing is complete. But this isn't true! There are many ways to minimize the effects of a bone injury on the rest of your life. Here are five to try:
- Rest: Depending on your injury's location, your doctor may recommend you rest the affected area for up to six weeks. The amount of time you're required to rest the bone will depend on the location of the injury and your personal health.
- Start slowly: Once your doctor says you can return to activity, it's important to go slow. Returning to your previous activity level should be a gradual process to help prevent re-injury as your bone continues to heal.
- Bear some weight: Your body's bones and muscles gain strength when you perform weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, running, hiking, or climbing stairs. At first, you should perform low-impact weight-bearing exercises, such as walking, to prevent further injury. As your bone continues to strengthen, you'll be able to switch to higher-impact exercises such as running.
- Strength train: To make sure you regain as much function as possible, you should incorporate strength-training exercises into your recovery routine. This type of exercise uses weights to help build muscle strength and increases your sense of balance. Both may help reduce your chances of further bone injury.
- Talk to your doctor: If you experience pain, weakness, or other symptoms while recovering from a bone injury, it's important to let your doctor know as soon as possible. These may be signs of further bone injury. Your doctor is your partner in health, and letting him or her know about any unusual symptoms early can help prevent further injury.
A bone injury can temporarily affect your ability to enjoy an active lifestyle, but it doesn't have to make you a couch potato for life. By allowing your body to recover properly from an injury like a bone fracture, you can help ensure that the effects on your life and fitness goals are as small as possible.
If you have a bone injury and feel ready to resume your activities, talk with your doctor about a specific recovery plan that's tailored to your needs.