Holistically Healing from Falls/Breaks/Sprains
As we age, our bodies become less resilient when falls and injury occur. Falls in the elderly can often lead to bone breaks, fractures, and sprains with long recovery times. The best prevention is to build and maintain strong bones and muscles throughout our lives so that we can reduce our risk of falls. After menopause, the decrease in estrogen in the body also contributes to bone loss, meaning that falls later in life will have a greater effect on bones.
When a fall does occur, it is important to be patient with the recovery process. A fall at the age of 70+ takes longer to recover from than a fall when you were 30. You can reduce your recovery time with patience, regular physical therapy, and nutrient dense plus anti-inflammatory foods.
Drink plenty of water – water helps to nourish the entire body, helping to transport nutrients to cells and even helps lubricate joints.
Try: consuming 2-3L of water and herbal tea daily.
Consume calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus rich foods – calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus are the building blocks of bones. Foods rich in these minerals help to support many bodily functions and are especially important during tissue and bone repair, and regeneration.
Try: foods such as dark leafy greens, brazil nuts, seeds, legumes, avocados, figs, eggs, salmon, and sardines.
Healthy Fats –healthy fats help to improve the fluidity of blood, improve the membranes of our cells, aid in tissue repair, reduce inflammation, and nourish the body with important nutrients.
Try: foods such as wild caught salmon, sardines, extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado, as well as nuts and seeds.
Dark Leafy Greens –high in vitamins and minerals like calcium, K and boron. Dark leafy greens contain plenty of antioxidants and phytonutrients which will help support healing.
Try: kale, collard greens, lettuce, parsley, spinach, asparagus.
Antioxidant Rich Foods –antioxidants help to destroy free radicals in the body preventing further damage to cells and tissues. They also aid in the repair and recovery of damaged cells.
Try: berries such as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries, dark leafy greens, colorful vegetables and fruits, and nuts and seeds.
Avoid Inflammatory Food and Drinks – food and drinks that increase inflammation in the body should be avoided, especially after injury. In an injured state, the body is already in a highly inflammatory state as it is trying to repair itself.
Avoid: processed foods, refined carbohydrates, added sugars, high sugar foods, alcohol, caffeine, dairy.
Reduce Stress– stress causes the hormone cortisol to increase in the body, leading to increased blood sugar, and puts our body into a fight or flight state where many systems are suppressed. This includes the mechanisms of the body that are responsible for cell growth and repair. If we are in a stressful situation long term, it will take the body longer to recover.
Try: mindfulness meditations, pranayama breath, or square breathing (inhale for 4 counts, pause for 4 counts, exhale for 4 counts, pause for 4 counts – repeat for 1-2 minutes).
Physical Therapy– physical therapy is of great importance when recovering from any form of fall or injury.
Try: physical therapy as recommended by your health professional which may include physiotherapy, massage, acupuncture, and myofascial therapy.
Castor Oil Packs– castor oil has long been effective as an anti-inflammatory oil that can help to reduce swelling, pain, and fluid retention.
Try: applying castor oil topically and directly to the area of injury, or create a pack using an oil-soaked cloth wrapped around the area of the wound. Once covered, plastic should be wrapped around to prevent any messes. Heat can then be applied to the area for about an hour.
Ice Packs– immediately after an injury, ice can be helpful in reducing inflammation at the site of injury.
Try: placing an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the affected area for 15-20 minutes each hour.
Rest– as important as movement and physical therapy are, rest is also a key step to recovery. It can be tempting to want to jump back into regular physical activities at the first sign of feeling better, but rest is needed for healing.
Try: practicing mindful movement. Start slowly, taking plenty of time to rest in the most comfortable position for your body.
Epsom Salt Baths– Epsom salt baths can be helpful in reducing inflammation and are simply a soothing tool to help relax the muscles of the body. Epsom salts contain magnesium which is necessary for muscle relaxation and recovery.
Try: soaking in a bath with 2-3 cups of Epsom salts for 15-20 minutes.
Restorative or Yin yoga– restorative yoga is a very gentle yoga practice that involves long-held supportive postures which allow the body to naturally rest and open while remaining fully supported. Restorative yoga also allows the body to fall into a place of deep relaxation, encouraging healing and recovery.
Try: a restorative or yin yoga practice at your local yoga studio.
Calcium– Calcium is a major building block of bones and is important for everyone, particularly post-menopausal women who begin to experience bone loss at increasing rates.
Try: supplementing with about 1200mg of calcium daily in a formula which also has magnesium and vitamin D.
Magnesium– Magnesium is another important mineral for bone building. It is also responsible for relaxing muscles, facilitates regular bowel movements, and can help to reduce tension in the body.
Try: supplementing with about 250mg of magnesium bisglycinate or citrate in capsule or powdered form daily.
Vitamin D + K– is necessary to help your body absorb calcium, and vitamin K helps your body to use calcium most efficiently so that you can build strong bones and repair bone breaks and fractures when they happen.
Try: supplementing with 1000-5000 IU of vitamin D daily and use a vitamin D supplement that also contains vitamin K.
Curcumin– is the active plant chemicals in turmeric and is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties.
Try: supplementing with curcumin or adding turmeric into your diet. (Caution - may interact with any medications that help to slow blood clotting)
EFAs– essential fatty acids (EFAs) are a major component of our cell membranes. Healthy cell membranes encourage the absorption and transport of nutrients and will increase cell and tissue repair after damage. EFAs also help to reduce inflammation in the body.
Try: supplementing daily with either flaxseed or fish oil. Aim for 1200mg of combined EPA and DHA.
Arnica- is an inflammatory herb used for topical application to relieve muscle pains, sprains, bruises and aches. This powerful herb has active ingredients to reduce pain + swelling and promote healing.
Try: For topical use, create a paste by placing the leaves in a food processor to mince the leaves, and then add some olive oil to create a paste. This mixture can be added to the affected area 2-3x/daily. There are also many homeopathic formulas available for topical application. Arnica can also be taken internally in homeopathic form.
Turmeric (curcumin is the active compound) – is an anti-inflammatory superstar which can help soothe sore muscles.
Try: taking a curcumin supplement or tincture, or use turmeric in muscle salves and apply topically. You can also add turmeric powder to your food or enjoy in a golden milk latte or turmeric tea.
Comfrey- a soothing option. Great for resolving inflammation and relief of bruising and pain.
Try: a comfrey salve rubbed into the affected area
St. John’s wort- Can be used topically or taken internally to ease muscle tension & pain.
Valerian and Chamomile – are both nervine tonics, helping to relax the nervous system and in turn, the muscles of the body, aiding in rest and recovery. They can also be helpful in relaxing the mind if there is mental/emotional trauma from the injury.
Try: sipping on chamomile or valerian tea. Note that valerian is the stronger of the two and may cause some drowsiness.
Epsom Salt or Magnesium flake Baths - Warm epsom salt or magnesium flake baths deliver magnesium to help relax muscles and relieve pain.