Is it ever okay to workout if you’re injured? Are you frustrated because you have a fitness or sports injury and can’t wait to get back into your regular fitness routine? Or, are you constantly hearing conflicting advice on how to handle your fitness injury?
Today, I want to get rid of any confusion and provide you with helpful tips to avoid common injury mistakes. I can assure you that you are not alone in wanting to rush back into your fitness plan. Athletes, weekend warriors and fitness fanatics all want to get back into action as soon as possible after an injury, because they don’t want their hard work to go to waste. If you have been on a weight loss journey and sustain an injury, it can be especially frustrating because the last thing you want to do is slow down your momentum.
Almost all athletes and fitness enthusiasts have an injury story from times they have pushed their body too hard. I’ve spent many evenings sitting around comparing “injury war stories” in the gym, and I know many people fall into the trap of coming back to exercise too soon after getting hurt.
I am guilty of this myself. I tore my hamstring while sprinting out of the blocks right in the middle of an important athletics season. I was so desperate to get back into shape for competition that I kept pushing my body too hard, too soon, and only made my situation worse. My impatience eventually kept me out of competition for several months! If I had followed doctors orders and waited a full 8 weeks until getting back onto the track, the healing process may have been a lot less stressful.
The beauty of mistakes is learning from them, so here are my tips so that you don’t have to follow my path.
You can avoid pain and emotional distress that come with common fitness/sports injuries by working through these simple pieces of fitness advice.
Get help from a doctor and don’t self-diagnose an injury. It’s very common for us to play doctor for ourselves—or worse, offer advice to your gym partner or colleague. Self–diagnosing your injuries is a bad idea. I believe that it’s important to let the pro’s assess your individual injury, because so many fitness injuries have similar symptoms.
Avoid masking an injury by using over-the-counter medications, splints, supports or wraps without instruction from a health professional. Using supports can cause muscular imbalance if used improperly, and pain is your body’s way of letting you know something is wrong. If you are masking your body’s natural defenses, you risk worsening your condition, which may keep you on the sidelines longer.
Follow your doctor’s prescribed treatment plan, and try not to let frustration or added worry of losing form/gaining weight convince you do too much too soon. The body sometimes takes time to heal itself. Exercising before you are healed is never a good idea.
Ask your health professional questions. If you twist your ankle and assume you can still do your usual upper body routine, you may have to think again. We refer to our muscles as individual entities, but the truth is that our body is one complete unit connected by fascia and complex connective tissues.
– Certain lower body injuries may not affect your ability to do upper-body exercises, but there is a chance that placing stress on your body may cause a chain reaction of imbalances that could, in turn, cause other injuries.
– When you visit a health professional, take a list of important questions with you. Here are a few questions to keep in mind:
Be aware of the fact that your body loses conditioning quickly when you stop exercising. Understanding that you can’t just start back at the same intensity as when you stopped is very important. Follow a stepped and slow approach to getting your fitness level back.
A great way to come back after an injury is to focus on exercise duration and not intensity for the first few weeks. Try to choose low-impact moves before attempting more stressful high-impact versions.
Try to keep a positive outlook and don’t let a minor setback derail your healthy, active lifestyle. If you start to feel low, try to find other activities that will help boost your mood until your injury heals. A physical rest may allow you to finally read that book or catch up with friends. Finally, be sure to keep your healthy eating plan in place and adjust your calorie intake to take account for your lack of physical activity.
I believe in the old saying that “An ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.” So, always take care and pay attention when you are exercising or playing sports. You may be able to avoid some common fitness injuries if you always use correct form, lift weights that are suitable for your current fitness level, and follow a balanced workout plan that includes plenty of stretching.
If injury strikes, take your time before returning to fitness. Always listen to your body and especially listen to your doctor’s advice. We only have one body and it has to last us a lifetime, so please take care of it!
Check out my short video “How to do a perfect…” exercise series to help you perfect your current fitness form.