It was an epic fail. The full force of an impact that should have been displaced by two hips, thighs, and legs, was instead taken by only the right lower limb. Limping away, I knew I was out for the night with the full extent of the injury looming as pain radiated from the knee joint.
The immediate good news is that I did not hear a pop that would suggest a significant ligament tear. My leg muscles were strong enough that my knee did not buckle with the awkward landing; the leg and thigh muscles took the brunt of the trauma exactly as they are designed to do.
Still, I knew I was in for some recovery, so I planned to take time off from treating patients to rest and heal. What could have been a multi-week recovery for some people ended up only taking a week. I shortened my recovery time with therapies that are readily available.
Heat Therapy and Hydrotherapy
As soon as I got home, I limped into the shower and blasted my thigh and knee with alternating steaming hot and ice-cold water. This form of acute hydrotherapy maximizes circulation rather than suppressing swelling as an ice pack would. Predictably, my body’s response was to swell my knee to twice its normal size. I continued applying heat several times a day during my recovery. Heat supports the body’s healing response to an acute injury, which includes swelling, while cold suppresses this response.
Topical and Other Pain Relief
The first night was rough as it was difficult to find a comfortable position with a swollen knee, but I took the edge off the pain with a tincture of the herb ghost pipe. I could have taken an anti-inflammatory for the pain, but again, the therapeutic principle is to avoid suppressing the body’s innate wisdom—a short-term investment for a long-term gain of a quicker recovery.
I experienced spasms in the thigh muscles the next day, so I took a hot bath with Epsom salts and pain-relieving essential oils before applying magnesium oil. The spasms did not return.
Within the first 24 hours, I began taking a high dose of the enzyme serrapeptase on an empty stomach two or three times a day to help heal the damaged tissue. There are other enzyme blends formulated for this purpose, but the serrapeptase is all I had on hand.
Acupuncture and Massage
Acupuncture was also high on my therapy list. Although it is not ideal to work on myself, I was successful in providing stimulation to four or five key acupuncture points, including two in my distal quadriceps muscles where the swelling was most prominent. While few people are trained in acupuncture or have a live-in acupuncturist, even gentle massage to a sore area goes a long way.
The second night I slept 10 hours straight and awoke to being able to bend my leg to 90 degrees. I could put just enough weight on it that I was able to walk with both feet touching the ground, assisted by crutches. By the third day, I stood with my weight equally distributed on both legs.
I kept up the regimen of topicals, supplements, heat, bodywork, and prayer. By the fourth day, I was walking (albeit slowly) without crutches. I returned to the clinic the following Monday, having only missed one week of work.
That’s the story of my treatment, but it is not the most important factor in my recovery nor the principal message I wish to impart. I believe I healed as quickly as I did because I front-loaded resilience into my body prior to the injury.
Parkour was the source of my injury, but training in the sport also enabled my resilience. I don’t consider parkour to be a high-risk activity when taught in a controlled environment by a certified coach, as I had trained for six years prior without incident. Besides, people injure themselves all the time doing questionable activities or in fluke occurrences. Most of the acute injuries I treat for patients result from “black-swan events” such as tripping over a dog in the middle of the night or slipping while getting out of the shower. No one escapes such traumatic occurrences, so all we can do is build resilience to prepare for them.
Parkour involves training in situations uncharacteristic of other forms of exercise, such as hopping on one leg for long stretches. Functional movements like climbing and crawling help build well-rounded strength. Thus, the morning after my injury, I could stand on one leg for as long as I needed to while tending to daily needs. I balanced on one leg while I brushed my teeth, washed my face, and shaved.
Heal to Help Others
There is a saying amongst special operations forces soldiers originating from Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf: “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in battle.”
The applicable wisdom for the rest of us is summarized by the parkour aphorism, “Be strong to be useful.” It means to be of strong body, mind, and heart so that you can help yourself and others in a time of need. I have trained in parkour ever since my stage 4 cancer diagnosis in 2015 (from which I achieved full remission eight months later by following an integrative medicine protocol that included immunotherapy without the use of chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery). That training has given me the strength and confidence to get up when I fall, endure through struggle, and be prepared for whatever may come.
Equipped with the tools of natural medicine, bolstered by hard-earned resilience, and proceeding with an abiding faith that the power that made the body heals the body, a Godspeed recovery from challenges far more severe than a knee injury is possible.