Injured. Now What?

If you’re a dedicated athlete or are passionate about fitness, getting injured can seem like a nightmare. When you spend so much effort and time training and it becomes part of your lifestyle, the thought of being forced to stop is the last thing you want to do. Getting injured won’t only affect you physically by preventing you from working out but the biggest effect will probably be mentally and emotionally. So how do you deal when you’re injured? Should you continue to workout or stop completely?

If you have set goals for yourself, when you get injured its as if you suddenly see those goals disappearing and becoming out of reach. This can cause you to fall into complete sadness and feelings of hopelessness. Know that it’s okay to feel this way. Many people from professional athletes to regular fitness enthusiasts have gone through the same thing- the pain of an injury, the emotional rollercoaster, and the mental breakdown. A large number recover fully and come back stronger, while some learn to work through the injury and find value and passion with new goals.

How To Deal:

-It is okay to be sad and frustrated. But trying to find opportunity within a bad situation is a great way to help you deal with an injury emotionally and mentally. Having to stop training can help you discover other passions you might have wanted to pursue but didn’t make time for. During your time of healing, you could plan that vacation you’ve wanted to take, start a creative project, or discover a new hobby. At least until you are fully healed, staying positive and being productive with your time will make this period more bearable.

-You shouldn’t be obsessing with comparing yourself to others, and avoiding comparison while injured is even more crucial. Everyone is going through his or her own struggles, and you happen to have an injury at the moment. You will get through it and get back to working towards your goals.

-Learn to trust the process and understand what needs to be done in order to help the healing process. Some people might recover fast and others might need a longer break from training. Many professional athletes even took an entire year off but came back strong. You are going to want to get back as soon as possible, but that might only make your recovery take longer and you won’t come back feeling 100%. Accepting the time you need to spend with a doctor or physical therapist will help keep you on track towards recovery.

-Don’t assume medical doctors or therapists will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know to recover. A big part of recovery is your responsibility, so take it just as seriously as you would your training. The same way you plan your day at the gym, make a plan for any rehab exercises you should be doing. Focus and work on them just as seriously as you would in training. Set goals related to your rehab program and appreciate every accomplishment you make, as you get closer to being fully recovered.

To Workout Or Not:

If you’re constantly putting your body under a lot of stress, an injury forces you to stop and as a result give your body a much-needed rest. But some injuries are specific to one body part or muscle, for example a broken wrist or ankle so you’re wearing a cast, a shoulder injury, or a back injury. Some injuries such as these, you can work around without causing the injured area more harm. If you injured yourself and can’t do weightlifting you might be able to use this time to focus on gymnastics. You can slow down your training and focus on getting strong before adding intensity back into your workouts. It’s also okay to switch to working with machines, which have less pressure on your joints than free weights. Use this time to do more aerobic conditioning work. It has been known that this could actually help speed up the recovery process. Blood flowing to the injured area during aerobic work will promote a faster recovery. In general, it’s important to keep moving, everyday.

-Upper body injured: train your lower body, core and you can also train the other arm using dumbbells.

-Squat or Deadlift injury: stop squatting and deadlifting for a while. Focus on core work and other lower body exercises such as hip thrusts, Bulgarian split squats, or lunges.

-Lower body injury: train the upper body, core and you can also train the other leg.

-Back injury: focus on volume instead of intensity. This means lighter weight and focusing on fixing movement. You can also focus on upper body.

How NOT To Get Injured:

-An injury can be a wake-up call that might make you realize any mistakes you might have made. Have you been neglecting warming up properly, post workout stretches, mobility exercises, accessory work to fix imbalances, ignoring technique in favor of going harder in a workout, or not taking a rest day?

-Have you been feeling pain but ignoring it and not communicating with your trainer? Being in denial of an injury or continuing to train the area will only make it worse. It’s important to speak up or get professional medical help before making the injury even more complicated or serious.

-A good nutrition base helps your body stay healthy and recover after intense workouts. Neglecting your diet is just as bad as performing an exercise with bad technique. Consider even taking supplements to help your recovery such as fish oil and magnesium.

-Get enough sleep! It’s your best form of recovery.

Most Important Points:

Don’t feel sorry for yourself. Use this time to work on weaknesses and recover as quickly as possible. Take the recovery process as serious as training. You can continue to get strong or at least retain your strength by working around your injury. Know what caused the injury and avoid doing the same mistakes again. Then before you know it you’ll be back to training normally. Just make sure to take it easy in the beginning and work your way back up.

Stay positive, be smart, and take care of your body.

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