What to Do When You’re Injured – Dr. Woodrow Hill – Guest Post

A Guest Post from Dr. Woodrow Hill of the Denver Sports Injury Center for your reading pleasure: 

I’ve been very lucky throughout my life. I’ve played sports and been physically active since I was 5, and I’ve only been injured one time.

When I was 22 years old, before my formal training, I injured my right quad kicking a soccer ball. I was playing indoor soccer in the winter and it was really cold in the gym. With no warm up, I kicked the ball as hard as I could. I felt my quad pop, and fell to the ground. When I got up I wasn’t in that much pain, so I kicked the ball again and fell down in severe pain.

 I really had no idea what to do about it, and I had just spent a lot of money to play in the league. I didn’t go see a doctor because I could walk and run without severe pain, but I couldn’t kick with my right foot. I ended up playing in the next 7-8 games limping and only kicking with my left foot. It eventually healed up on it’s own but, looking back, it would have been great to know a doctor that would have helped me recover much faster so I could have played 4-5 of those games to running without a limp and using my right foot.

What I want to talk about today is what to do when you get injured and what kind of doctor to look for to help you get better as fast as possible, so you don’t miss months of exercise and/or playing sports.

The majority of injuries that occur with exercise and playing sports are repetitive injuries like tendonitis, muscle pulls and

 ligament sprains. Traumatic injuries like broken bones or muscle tears are much less common and usually need a significant fall or major impact (auto accident) to occur.


The first thing to do when you get injured, assuming you didn’t have a bad fall or were involved in an auto accident, is find your ice pack and use it for 2-3 days. When icing an injury, it is important to keep ice on the injured area for only 20 minutes at a time. Research has shown that icing for longer than 20 minutes can cause more inflammation and slow the natural healing process. Using a timer is the best way to prevent over icing.


Resting is important for healing, so make sure you get 8 hours of sleep a night.  During the day it’s not good for healing to just sit on the couch. You want to try and move the injured area but not so much as to cause sharp pain. Be careful, but don’t be overly careful.


If you are not significantly better after 3-4 days of icing and rest, you should see a doctor and find out what the problem is. Look for a doctor that specializes in treating the area of your body that is injured. Here’s a couple simple tips to help you on your search:  

1. Surgeons are amazing doctors but they specialize in surgery and the majority of sports/exercise injuries do not need surgery right away. So, unless you have had significant trauma you probably want to start your search with non-surgical doctors.

2. Non-surgical doctors typically advertise techniques they specialize in and put them on their website. I’m will go over the techniques that have been shown to work best in research and in my clinical experience.

Lower back and neck pain:

Chiropractors and physical therapists are the good places to start for low back and neck pain. Depending on what state you live in you may need a referral from your primary care doctor (MD or DO) to see a PT. You can see a chiropractor in every state without a referral.

I suggest you look for a doctor/therapist that does the McKenzie method. The McKenzie method is great for low back and neck pain and can help you very fast. Along with McKenzie, I suggest you look for a doctor/therapist that does soft tissue treatments like: myofascial release, ART, Graston or Rolfing. I recommend you find an office that does both McKenzie and myofasical release.

Shoulder, Elbow, Wrist, Hand, Hip, Knee, Thigh and Calf:

Chiropractors and physical therapists are the also good places to start with these injuries. The majority of shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, thigh and calf injuries are caused by muscle pulls, ligament strains and tendonitis. Muscles, ligaments and tendons are soft tissues so you should look for a doctor/therapist who does soft tissue treatment techniques like: myofascial release, ART, Graston or Rolfing.

Rehabilitation and corrective exercise are important for healing soft tissue injuries. It is important that the office provide these services. I suggest looking for offices that have certifications in Functional Movement Systems (FMS) and/or Selective Functional Movement Assessment (SFMA).

Foot and Ankle injuries:

Podiatrists, chiropractors and physical therapists all treat foot injuries. Most foot/ankle injuries are also caused by muscle pulls, ligament sprains and tendonitis and do really well with non-surgical treatments like myofascia release and physical therapy.

So, basically: 

1. Ice and see if you improve quickly.

2. If not, look for a doctor that specializes in your injury.

3. Most injuries from exercising and playing sports are muscle pulls, ligament sprains and tendonitis and do great with myofascial treatments and rehabilitation.

4. If you have a significant fall or accident, you should probably go to the emergency room or urgent care center right away.

5. You should improve quickly, and if you’re not improving, continue to search for another doctor/therapist. 

Dr. Woodrow Hill graduated with a doctorate in chiropractic from Logan College in 2009. After obtaining his doctorate he did post graduate training in sports medicine and received certifications from the Central Institute for Human Performance; Prague School: Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization; Motion Palpation Institute; Functional Movement Systems: Selective Functional Movement Assessment; and the Titleist Performance Institute.

Basically, he’s super legit. 

The past two years Dr. Hill worked for Airrosti Rehab Centers in Texas where he learned specific treatments for tight muscles and connective tissue adhesions to quickly reduce pain and discomfort. Pain is usually reduced and range of motion improved after the very first treatment.

Dr. Hill recently moved to Denver with his wife, where he treats fitness-injured whiners like me at the Denver Sports Injury Center.  

Woody & Dove