Five Essential Steps to Training with an Injury
When an injury sidelines your workout schedule,it’s easy to fall into a funk. You feel disheartened. You feel defeated. You may even feel like giving up and wallowing in self-pity all day.
Unfortunately, this method of recovery simply doesn’t work and your life will likely only become even more depressing. You need to view this incident as simply another part of training. It’s a challenge, where the goals have not changed but the journey requires some modification.
With that in mind, here are five essential steps to keep your body moving with an injury without slowing down your recovery time.
- Speak to a Medical Professional
It may be tempting to train through the pain. It may be easier to Google your symptoms until you find an article which claims that you’re fine. However, only a hands-on evaluation from an educated individual can steer your specific circumstances in the safest direction.
Ask them what exercises are off the table. Ask them when you might be able to return to your regular program. Ask them how intense you’re allowed to train now. If they tell you to rest indefinitely, then rest indefinitely. If they give you some medication, take it. Without a doubt, this is the most important step of them all. Do what they say.
- Work Around the Pain
Have you ever heard of the phenomenon known as “cross-education”? Studies have proven that the training of one limb somehow increases the strength of the other untrained limb too. In other words, while you may not be able to directly target the muscles you are hoping for, you can still keep your body progressing forward by working on the surrounding areas. This will not only burn excess calories and tighten your physique but may also increase your overall performance once you’ve healed too.
Consider working with a trainer to maximize your gains, but some ideas include swimming or the rowing machine for foot injuries, weight-lifting or kayaking for leg injuries, and yoga for shoulder injuries. If you have some spinal trauma, your options are a little more limited, hence why you need to get permission from your doctor before you attempt anything new.
- Stick to Your Routine
One of the more concerning aspects of injury downtime is the loss of your exercise routine. As your body falls out of sync with these habitual activities, it will only mean a tougher start when you are finally ready to get back into the swing of things.
An easy way to avoid this is to simply keep moving during those same time slots. If you usually perform an intense gym session over your lunch hour, then try to find a low impact class which you can attend at that same time. If you enjoy a morning run, then replace it with a casual stroll while using a knee walker or crutches. You should even keep your pre-workout stretching ritual to really get in the mood.
- Eat Properly
To really add insult to injury, people do tend to gain weight when dealing with these periods of stagnation. The reasons aren’t hard to understand either. Not only are you burning fewer calories, but you may also find yourself sitting on the couch all day long, eating fast food and feeling miserable. Perhaps even worse is that certain foods (such as sugary junk or refined carbs) actually provoke further inflammation.
Use your food like a weapon, and eat meals which boost your recovery while keeping your body lean and powerful. Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce joint pain with their anti-inflammatory properties, so stock up on soybeans, flaxseeds, and fish. Fruit and vegetables should ideally be around 50% of your total diet, and ample hydration is the key to all rejuvenation.
- Stay Motivated
This may sound easier said than done, but with a slight shift in attitude, you can slowly find small ways in which to hold your mindset in the training zone. Remember to be patient, repeating the mantra that you are on your way to recovery. Tell your friends about your progress and follow athletes on social media to maintain a keen eye on the goal. And use this break as an opportunity to study your body, making new plans, training different areas, and working out the best way to ensure that this never happens again.
What’s important to note is that feeling pessimistic can actually hinder your healing, so force a smile and face forward. This is just a little injury. It happens to people all the time. You’ll be back on your feet before you know it.