Injury Recovery First Principles

TikTok recently served up to me one influencer’s explanation of why a solid physique confers high status. Physical fitness, he said, tells you a lot about a person’s character. A fit person is consistent, tenacious, and has high standards.

To this impressive list, I’d also add: a person in good condition is a relentless problem solver. You can’t maintain a high level of fitness without figuring out how to manage injuries.

Plantar fasciitis has become my latest challenge. After violating my own 2x rule (every week you train through injury doubles your recovery time), it was time to get serious. I’ve turned to injury recovery first principles.

For starters, you need to become your own doctor. Science magazine recently published a dense article about how vast numbers of medical research papers are fake, either made up or plagiarized. This piece is just the latest on the spreading rot. A 2021 analysis found that at least 20 percent of reported clinical trials never happened. The great Dr. John Ioannidis wrote in his famous 2005 essay that it’s more likely that published research findings are wrong than right. If you follow the mainstream, the advice is likely to be ineffective — or worse.

Second, and related to the point above, Google is useless when it comes to sports injuries. For example, page after page of search results unanimously promote the RICE protocol (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). As a reminder, the doctor who invented the practice of icing injuries, Dr. Gabe Mirkin, later repudiated his own creation because inflammation is a critical part of the healing process. Like masks and margarine, RICE is another zombie intervention we’ll be stuck with for 100 years.

As a general rule:

  • I use a heating pad (instead of ice) to encourage blood flow and delivery of healing factors;
  • I take a natural pain reliever (such as bromelain or Boswellia extract) when needed, instead of harsher NSAIDs;
  • I engage in strengthening activities (I use a ToePro for plantar fasciitis recovery) rather than slide into rest and inactivity.

A good way to approach self-treatment is to in fact research conventional medical advice. Then, just do the opposite.

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