I wanted to write a short blog on injuries and recovery, not that I am an expert in any way, shape, or form but both myself and my dogs have suffered various injuries over the years, as you would expect having been competing for 5 seasons now. This is from a very personal and non-medical perspective and is really just my thoughts on how I have managed the problems I have encountered.
Firstly, the main thing to do is accept you may have to rest, either yourself or your dog, as with any injury one of the first things to do is to rest the problem. Now I am not as good at doing this, as I am enforcing it for my dogs but I have had a few periods of complete rest during the last 5 years.
Secondly, get a professional opinion. There is no point guessing what your injury is, or the best way to treat it. If you have a reliable professional you can trust, take yourself to them and listen to their advice. I regularly take my dogs to see a canine massage therapist for a general muscular check up. I am lucky in that I have a great professional network around me for my dogs, so they have never had prolonged periods of rest. I only wish the same could be said for myself!
Keep active. If you have to stop canicrossing or bikejoring then don’t forego all activity as a result. Find other things to keep you moving. A perfect example of this is swimming. I personally hate swimming, unless it is in a warm country with a cold drink waiting for me when I get out. I did resort to membership of my local sports centre when I tore the ligaments in my ankles however, and as much as I moaned about the experience, at least I felt like I was doing something to actively recover. More recently, one of my dogs had a cruciate strain and a course of hydrotherapy safely build up his strength, so that when he could begin canicrossing again, he was still fit and strong.
Keep healthy. Having to rest or change your routine is no excuse to start eating rubbish food or ignore your normal diet. Although it may be a comfort to you to indulge in extra treats while you feel sorry for yourself, you will regret it when the time comes to start training again. I have even reduced the amount of food both myself and my dogs are consuming in an effort not to put strain on our bodies (and possibly the injury). It is not easy and I’m not saying that I’ve never let myself put on a few extra pounds when I’ve been injured, just that you need to be mindful of making recovery as easy for yourself as possible. You might also want to consider supplements in your own or your dogs’ diet to help support an active lifestyle, as there are a number of great products on the market now.
Keep positive. I have had periods where I felt like thing weren’t getting any better but in actual fact they were. There is a lot to be said for the power of positive thought and I firmly believe that those who deal with injury in a positive way, recover quicker. My eldest dog was diagnosed with arthritis when she was just 5 years old but we’re nearly 3 years on now and after some initial treatment, we bought her a magnotherapy collar and under the advice of the vet, continued her programme of canicross. Today she is fitter than she has ever been and although I realise there will come a time when she will want to slow down, she is enjoying life far more being included in all our activity then she would if I had just retired her.
To conclude, whatever injury you or your dog have suffered, there are usually options available to you to allow you to continue activity of some description, until you have fully recovered and can get back to your usual routine. It is important to take advice, keep positive and healthy and hopefully you will soon be healed enough to get out enjoying yourself again.