There Is More To Rehab Than Exercise!

Ever had an injury? Ever found it to be one of THE most frustrating things in the world? Most of us have been there! When it comes to an injury the thing I hear everyone talking about is rehab, rehab and more rehab, yet their focus when they use such a word tends to be on exercises they can do in order to rehabilitate the injury. Whilst this is hugely important, rehab in my opinion is a 5 pronged approach that includes 1. Exercise 2. Nutrition 3. Supplementation 4. Rest 5. Mindset. Agree? Then keep reading.

Matt ChainsThe thing is most of you will be nodding your head right now thinking “that sounds about right to me” but how many people do you actually think take such an approach?

The answer is  surprisingly very few. The human body is a fantastic creation and has an awesome ability to heal itself, but it needs the right combination of all of the above to ensure it does so quickly and effectively. As some of you may know I had a shoulder operation a few years ago so I speak from personal experience. This was my own approach to ensure I achieved a speedy recovery. Check it out and I hope it helps!



The worst thing you can do after an injury is nothing. When you do nothing things seize up, lose mobility/flexibility and become unconditioned and this is not a good thing. Movement creates blood flow which is essential for your recovery. How many people do you know who when they have a back problem and they start moving more it improves? I know plenty. Just think blood flow people. Yet most are programmed to assume that moving will do more damage than good. Of course this does depend on the nature of your injury and I do not recommend pushing through severe pain in order to move but don’t be afraid to test your boundaries. Be sure to listen to your body and don’t do anything silly. Another thing to mention is the importance of researching your injury and finding the correct rehab protocol for you and being shown by someone in the know. Don’t make assumptions as your recovery is too important – unless of course you want the recovery to be temporary or ongoing? Thought not.


This one is huge for me regardless of your injury. When you are injured it’s traumatic to the body and inflammation occurs. Of course inflammation is your bodies initial response to deal with the issue so this is no bad thing BUT it’s important that you do not start stuffing inflammation rich food and drink into your body, this will do your recovery no favors whatsoever. Anything processed is a big no no most of the time for me anyway, it’s even more important when you are injured as your body needs all the best quality nutrients it can get in order to heal. So ditch the processed crap and get plenty of oily fish, green veg, sweet potatoes, grass fed steaks, eggs and a little bacon 😉 etc down you. What’s most important is that the foods you are eating are fresh, unprocessed and from good sources. The better you eat the quicker you will recover I can assure you. Avoiding high acidic and high inflammatory foods will put you in good stead to recover fast. Many tend to feel sorry for themselves when injured and reach for comfort foods, this may give a temporary feel good factor but it really is the last thing the body needs. Here is a list of what to avoid and what to dose up on.

Inflammatory foods:

Sugar: Sugar is everywhere but you must try your best to avoid it. Limit processed foods, desserts and snacks that are high in sugar.

Poor quality cooking oils: Vegetable, soy, sunflower, corn etc are poor quality oils that promote inflammation. AVOID!

Trans fats: Trans fats increase bad cholesterol and promote inflammation. They are in  fried foods, fast foods, commercially baked goods, items prepared with partially hydrogenated oil, margarine and vegetable oil.

Dairy: While kefir and some yogurts are acceptable, dairy is hard on the body. Milk is a common allergen that can trigger inflammation. Try raw milk and see how you get on but don’t go crazy with the stuff.

Poor quality Meat/poultry: Animals who are fed crap grains like soy and corn are full of inflammation. These animals are pumped with hormones and antibiotics. Always opt for grass fed, free-range meats who have been fed natural diets where possible.

Alcohol: Regular consumption of alcohol causes irritation and inflammation and should be consumed in moderation when aiming to rehab in injury.

Refined Grains: “Refined” products have no fibre and have a high glycemic index and will feed inflammation. White flour, white bread, pasta, pastries, breakfast cereals are  packed with them so avoid these as much as possible. remember the less processed the better.

Artificial Food Additives: Aspartame and MSG are two food additives that seem to be everywhere in today’s food choices. They can trigger an inflammation response. Aim to avoid these completely as they have no benefit whatsoever.

Anti inflammatory foods: 

Wild Alaskan Salmon: Salmon contains anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which are awesome. Most people consume a very omega 6 rich diet and tend to neglect their omega 3 count. Wild is better than farmed and it does not have to be salmon. Think SMASH = Salmon Mackerel Anchovies Sardines Herring. Aim to eat oily fish 3-4 times a week.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Not only does this stuff taste awesome but this oil provides a healthy dose of fats that fight inflammation. Add to salads, sweet potato and even veg after cooking.

Vegetables: Broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale and cauliflower are all loaded with antioxidants. They are naturally detoxifying and full of inflammation fighting goodness.

Turmeric: This great tasting spice contains a natural anti-inflammatory compound, curcumin, which is often found in most curry blends. Honestly this stuff makes your dinner taste amazing and packs a serious inflammation combating punch. Get it down you. In fact many herbs and spices are full of inflammation fighting goodness and antioxidants. Cook with as many fresh herbs and spices as you can. They taste great so what’s not to like?

Ginger: Ginger has many health benefits. It reduces inflammation and can help control blood sugar. Try fresh ginger tea as a great addition to your day – I start with lemon and fresh ginger in hot water.

Green Tea: This contains anti-inflammatory flavonoids. It tastes great and you will feel fantastic for it. Remember though it still contains caffeine (unless you grab caffeine free) so don’t go crazy with it. 2-3 a day is fine as long as no other caffeine filled drinks have been consumed.

Sweet Potato: A great source of complex carbs, fibre, beta-carotene, manganese and vitamin B6 and C. These bad boys taste frickin awesome and heal inflammation in the body.


I am a huge fan of good quality food over supplements any day. However,  I do like to add a few supplements to give me a little extra help. More to the point though I firmly believe there are some fantastic supplements out there that will no doubt aid your recovery process and enhance your well being. Here are supplements that I take to ensure I recover super fast.

Fish oil – I use this to bump up my omega 3 fatty acids. Great for fighting inflammation.

Magnesium – I use both topical and oral magnesium to aid a good nights sleep which is essential for injury rehab.

Clean Greens – An awesome source of chlorophyll rich foods which have an alkalising effect on the body andaid detoxification.

Prozyme – This is a great little supp made by Nutri that combats inflammation. I take this between meals for best results.

Inflavanoid – This supp is full of inflammation fighting ingredients including turmeric.

Multi vit – I take his to give me a bit of back up and assist the food i’m eating.

As you can see it’s not a crazy amount of supps but it works well for me. I take supplements simply to supplement (funny that) my diet. If you are eating a pile of shit quality processed food and drinking alcohol all the time then don’t bother with supplements. This goes for whether you are injured or not, do not try to counteract the damage of a poor diet with supplements. Save your money and get your diet right first.


This one is an obvious one but is more often than not taken far too lightly. Whether you are injured or not and even if your diet is spot on and your rehab exercises are going great if you don’t allow adequate rest it will bite you in the arse and massively stall your recovery process. Ensure you are getting a solid 8 hours sleep a night, a nap in the day if you can and don’t go too crazy with your rehab exercises. It’s easy to over do those too. Learn to relax your mind and ensure your evenings allow you to wind down in order to get a good quality nights sleep. Invest in some down time such as a massage, a light walk or a spa day. Anything that relaxes you and allows you to unwind. A little stress is good for the soul and can help you get your arse in gear but having elevated cortisol levels on a regular basis is not good for your health in general let alone when trying to rehab an injury. Listen to your body, rest where needed and don’t over do it.


Truth be known, I personally see this as the most important point of all the 5 I have listed. I mean your state of mind dictates so much, the foods you eat, your quality of sleep, your stress levels and your discipline to rehab consistently etc. If your mind is not right then the above will fall apart or prove more difficult at least. Now lets remember the person writing this post (me) has had his fair share of injuries, I as much as the next guy know just how frustrating and depressing an injury can be. I have had little knocks and minor injuries that heal very quickly but I have also had some real show stopping injuries that take far longer to recover but more annoyingly like to flare up every now and again just to really piss me off. BUT and this is a very big BUT the days of letting such injuries get to me are well and truly over, I have drastically changed my mind set and my attitude towards injuries or “minor  inconveniences” as I now like to call them. Where there is a will there is a way and an injury will only hold you back as much as you let it and whats important is YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I used to get so worked up about being injured and at times I was a real pain to be around but this is no more. Want to know how I changed my attitude towards these minor inconveniences? Of course you do 🙂

  • See it as an opportunity:

See the injury not as a problem but as an opportunity to discover more about your body and other strengths you have. And you do have more.

  • Focus on an alternative:

If you have injured your shoulder then focus on getting your legs stronger than ever or getting your deadlift up. If your knee is bad set yourself a pull up challenge. There is always a way.

  • Become disciplined like never before:

Use it as an opportunity to become the most disciplined you have ever been and make things better. Stop talking, bitching and moaning about it and start doing something about it. If your not sticking to a rehab plan like the one above then you only have yourself to blame. Discipline, focus and action. Discipline is a fantastic quality and it feels amazing when you possess it.

  • Become an expert:

Research the injury and become a specialist in your own right. I had a back problem  (anterior pelvic tilt) which is now almost fixed and I have done so much research on it and seen so many specialists that its taught me a thing or two. I have now used that knowledge and best of all hands on experience to help others. I do not claim to be a back specialist but hell I know enough to make some pretty awesome recommendations. Knowledge is great but knowledge with actual experience is awesome.

It’s all about thinking yourself better.

Yep you read that right. I am a firm believer in the power of the mind and actually actively thinking about your recovery. When I dislocated my elbow playing rugby about 5 years ago as you can imagine I was pretty pissed off and frustrated at the thought of being out of action. A guy I knew at the gym who can only be described as an absolute beast, 6ft 7 tall, 19 stone, hands like shovels and shoulders as wide as he was tall gave me some advice that I have cherished ever since and works an absolute treat. In his strong Scottish accent he said “Ye need to sit down for 10 minutes every day, close ye eyes and imagine workers inside your body with tools actually working on and fixing ye elbow, visualise them making it better and stronger than ever before”. Sounds crazy but I did it and it really helped. It put me in a very positive frame of mind, helped me relax and I have no doubt it aided my recovery. Seriously, give it a try. Visualise your injury healing itself and remain positive. The more frustrated you get and if you maintain  a negative “it will never get better” mind frame then you will be your own worst enemy. A quote that springs to mind is “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re probably right”. Get your mind right and recover fast.

Closing thought for you here. The above 5 points towards a fast recovery are nothing without structure. Your meals, when you train, what to train, getting to bed early, remembering to take your supplements etc all requires structure. So plan ahead, make the time and dedicate yourself to a structured plan and I guarantee you will recover so fast you will forget you even had an injury.

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