There are few things more challenging to maintaining a regular fitness routine than obtaining an injury that interferes with certain exercises. Your first thought upon realizing you’re injured may be to bag going to the gym and working out for however long it takes to heal. Your second thought may be just to continue to push through the pain in an effort to stall any loss of fitness you’ve worked so hard for.
Neither of these solutions is really the best one. To be clear, if you are injured, it is critical to your recovery to take the time needed to rest that part of the body and to avoid aggravating it by pushing on through the pain. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that exercise is completely out the window for you. In fact, it actually may provide an opportunity.
Injuries are unfortunate, but having one may force you out of the regular exercise regimen you have become so comfortable with. An injury may encourage you to try new things that you discover you really enjoy. It can also encourage a level of cross training that ultimately improves your fitness level without harming your injured area while it heals up.
Take care of that injury!
Of course, the first and most important thing to consider is what needs to happen to actually heal up. Speak with a physician and make sure that you are taking all the right steps to actually improve your condition in the first place. Go to the appointments, do the physical therapy, and get back to 100 percent. Depending on the type and severity of the injury, you may be put on some pretty powerful painkillers; take them if you need them, but be cognisant of how addictive things such as opioids can be.
If you aren’t sure you have an injury, like for instance you think you might have a concussion, it is best to play it safe. Do not push it or continue working out until you’ve been looked at by a medical professional. Not taking injuries seriously is one of the primary causes of lingering injuries that never quite go away, or worse, become more painful over time.
Before diving back into any exercise routine – be it your regular one or a new one – be sure to get clearance from your doctor. Take it slow and go easy on yourself if exercise isn’t working out as well as you’d hoped. If necessary, work with a personal trainer to develop a good plan for easing back into a workout regimen.
Test it out, switch it up
Once you have the clearance to workout, it is time to test out what your body can handle and ease back into it. Easing in can be difficult, but it is essential. For example, athletes who are returning after a concussion may take up to two weeks to get back to full force once they start exercising again. In the beginning they do light aerobic exercise and slowly work up to non-contact drills and practice before fully returning to the game.
When you ease back into working out and look to switch up your routine, start by testing out the full range of motion of an exercise before jumping in. Make sure you can do the exercise without any weight or resistance before taking on the full exercise. If it hurts, don’t do it. Try something else that works the same area a different way. For instance, if push-ups hurt, do pull-ups also hurt?
Once you have found what works without straining the injured area, get back to work! Complete a full workout that makes you feel satisfied. You may not typically use the muscles now being targeted as frequently, so who knows, this workout may make you feel the burn with less effort.
Signs you need to stop
Working out and maintaining an exercise routine with an injury is a balance of give and take. More than ever, it is imperative to regularly check in on how your body is feeling. Critically evaluate any pains in the injured area and determine if you are doing anything that could be making the pain last longer than it normally would.
Pain is just one of a few signs that you should stop your exercise routine. If you feel ill, exhausted, or can’t complete basic movements such as sitting, standing, or breathing normally, you should stop exercising for a while until you either recover or figure out what went wrong and correct for it.
Unfortunately, you may have some level of chronic pain, especially as you get older. It is possible to develop an exercise routine that helps to work through chronic pain. Some level of physical activity can actually be beneficial for those suffering from chronic pain, as movement can help ease it.
Injuries are incredibly unfortunate, but they can be adjusted for in workout routines. If you are injured, be sure to get the necessary care and approval from a doctor before going back to exercise. Try new routines that allow you to get a workout in without targeting the injured area, and be certain to assess the injured area and make sure you are giving it plenty of rest!