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Workout around an injury

Workout around an injury
Getting an injury while being an active person can be a devastating situation for anyone. Stopping you from your progress in gains in either your fitness, from building your physical or weight loss program.

Injuries are almost impossible to avoid, as we modern humans tend to spend most of our time sedentary and then expect our bodies to cope with sudden surges of physical exercise. Often your injuries are just a few aches and pains or even from just the way you slept. As we age we also tend to have an increased number of these annoying types of injuries and it doesn’t help that our bodies are quite an adaptable machine, so in order to make progress and gains in performance, you have to keep pushing harder and harder each time, which can lead to more annoying injuries.

There are many types of injuries associated with working out and of course you may also injure yourself from non workout activities. Depending on the severity and type of injury you may sustain, you will either want to get your injury checked out by a health professional to assess and advice whether you can still workout or feel you are able to work around it.

Be cautious however if you are in the later group, as ignoring an injury or not allowing an injury to heal properly can lead to a more serious type of injury down the road.

Once you are happy or cleared to workout then you will want to be able to maximise your workouts while NOT affecting your injury any further.

Avoiding injury from working out

I want to start off firstly by actually talking about how to try and not get to this situation in the first place and remember, prevention is always better than a cure. So here are a number of things that can help you avoid an injury:

  • Always make sure you are able to workout. If you have a health issue or medical condition get checked out first and confirmation you are physically capable first.
  • Start a program gradually, don’t rush in. Set realistic goals and keep a journal of progress.
  • Follow warm-up and cool down routines – A proper warm-up gets your body ready for your main workout, with your heart rate gradually working its way up and getting the blood flowing. A warm-up also helps prepare and warm your muscles up and lubricates your joints. While cooling down helps gradually reduce blood flow, bringing your heart rate down gradually with no sudden stop, while stretching at the end reduces muscle soreness and increases flexibility.
  • Use proper exercise form and technique – very important in avoiding an injury.
  • Ditch exercises that cause you issues. Don’t try to work through pain or use exercises that put you in awkward positions. If an exercise doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
  • Use appropriate equipment and read all instructions on its proper use.
  • Wear the appropriate clothing to stay comfortable, especially in cold or very warm conditions.
  • Wear appropriate footwear.
  • Be sensible with your workout routines. Watch your intensity, workload and time spent working out and your recovery time.
  • Cycle and vary your workouts. Try to train in various disciplines to be a more complete trainer. Be a smarter trainer with balanced workouts. Don’t over use a motion or you could suffer from a repetitive injury. Often injuries can occur due to imbalances in strength and fitness. Try adding different exercises such as strength training, fitness, mobility and balance routines. Mix things up and try something different.
  • Eat properly. Give your body what it needs to fuel your workouts and then repair and rebuild after.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Get professional help from a personal trainer.
  • Take regular rest days and get good quality sleep.
  • Don’t let your ego get the better of you and show off in the gym.
  • Get in the right mind set….be positive and sensible.

When do you need to see the doctor?

Injuries come in all types of shapes and sizes, from strains, sprains, pulled muscles, various joint injuries, rotator cuff injuries, tendonitis and much more. One of the most difficult things to do is recognise pain from hard work and pain from an injury. It is therefore important to know when to visit your doctor to avoid further injury, especially long term injuries and even possible surgery. Pain is your body telling you that you have damage and you need to take action to help its repair and recovery and if you ignore it you may cause more damage.

If you suffer from any of the following you should most likely make an appointment with your doctor.

  • Numbness and loss of sensation
  • Tingling
  • Loss of co-ordination
  • Loss of strength
  • Stomach issues/internal pain
  • Pain that is either sharp or dull
  • Deep red/blue/black muscle colouration
  • Severe swelling
  • Reoccurring issues

How to workout around an injury?

If you have an injury and it’s either a minor injury or you have been cleared to workout, then you need to be sensible. Here is a list to keep you working out:

  • Follow the Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate (RICE) system. This helps reduce inflammation and swelling, gets the healing process on the way and gives pain relief. Note: only use heat when inflammation/swelling has gone down to help increase blood flow and repair.
  • Use anti- inflammatory foods and medicine.
  • Don’t slip on the nutritional side either, just because you’re not pushing as hard, doesn’t mean you should lapse on your nutritional intake. You may however need to reduce your calorie intake to adjust for the reduced amount of physical work you are able to do.
  • Give plenty of time for an injury to heal properly before trying to get back to where you left off. Be patient, as it takes time to get back to where you were in your pre-injury training. You don’t want to end up with an injury that keeps coming back or gets worse.
  • Do a 5-10 minute warm-up routine.
  • Use proper form, concentrate on what you are doing. Try other exercises and protect the injury.
  • Stop if you have any pain or seem to be affecting the injury. Don’t work through pain, you will make matters worse, but do try to stay active…….it will actually help the healing process. Ever notice if you have an aching back and lay down or stay still and how stiff you get. Now if you are moving around the stiffness reduces. This is because your body warms up and the muscles and joints stay lubricated and the blood flows around.
  • Look to lower your intensity. In some cases you may be able to increase your workout duration and volume, but use low impact exercise and lower the amount of weight you use. Try using resistance bands, hand weights, bike riding, swimming, walking etc as replacement workouts.
  • It is possible to maintain fitness if you workout once or twice a week at a reasonable pace, but the lower your intensity the more you should workout, so consider 3-4 short low intensity workouts, but always do what your body tells you and of course any professional advice you have received.
  • Use braces, belts and straps to help if needed, but don’t rely on them when recovered.
  • Aerobic type work can actually help injury recovery. It gets the blood flowing and removes waste. You can still keep your fitness level up and help burn fat/excess calories.
  • Get more sleep. This is important. When you get quality sleep, this will be the time when your body will be able to do the most to help with repair and recovery.
  • Keep moving. Rest isn’t the best in many cases, as when an injury occurs it will be your cardiovascular and immune system that can help with recovery and keeping this working will increase the recovery process.

If you suffer an injury and it isn’t getting better within a few weeks consider seeing your doctor. Caveat, not all health professionals will know what to do to keep you working out, do some research yourself. And for specific injuries and appropriate exercise you would be best seeing a professional or researching the internet………be cautious and find a good reliable website.

Please see my Health section which has other useful and related articles that include more specific injury and health related topics.