Getting injured is frustrating. You put in so much effort into your training and do not have time to be injured. All of your hard work just seems destined to slip away.
Injuries happen and they are part of life. While we try to prevent injuries as best we can, there are still times that injuries will occur. The good news is that you can still achieve some form of effective training during an injury.
Follow these steps for staying fit when battling an injury!
Focus on what you can do!
It is easy to fall into the trap of focusing on what you are unable to do during an injury. A setback is no fun and can be a time of high anxiety. To curb this, I challenge you to focus on what you can do. There are plenty of exercises you can do and training focuses that still provide value.
For example, I tore a tendon in my finger while I was in grad school. This injury required surgery and a few months of minimal usage of my left hand. As a personal trainer, not having usage of your hand is quite the challenge when it comes to your own training and also helping others.
During this time, I had two options. I could spend the months of recovery from the injury sulking and allowing all of my progress to go to waste or I could find what I could do and maximize those training opportunities.
While I couldn't hold a weight, I focused on using some machines that allowed me to complete movements without grip. I took the time to correct some movement restrictions I had been battling for years. This way I would be a better mover when I was able to load exercises again. Finally, I started hiking more often. I would pick hikes that would challenge me and allow me to take my mind off of the injury recovery process. It was a lifesaver!
At the end of my injury recovery phase, I experienced far less of a loss in abilities compared to if I just allowed myself to be completely sedentary during that time. I also maintained a more positive mental state throughout the process due to finding ways to keep moving forward.
Focus on what you can do!
Find a variation of the movement that works for you!
This builds upon the first point. Often times during an injury you can find a variation of the exercise that allows you to complete the movement without pain or increasing the injury.
For example, maybe split squat causes you knee pain and you have been experiencing this knee pain while running as well. Instead of completely scrapping squat movements, maybe a different variation will work, providing pain relief and allowing you to progress.
There are many different variations of each movement type. It is easy to get short-sighted when you are feeling pain or experiencing an injury and removing all of the exercises of that type. Instead, try to find a variation of the movement pattern that works for you. This process might just help you get rid of the injury and pain faster!
Here is a sample of the progression and regression worksheet I utilize to provide potential substitutions. If we look at the split squat example again, look at all of the different options available to replace the split squat. Chances are that one of the variations in this list will work for you.
If you want some more tips on the pain management side of training, I encourage you to check out the blog I wrote on this topic a few weeks ago.
This is a forgotten key to the injury recovery process. Your nutrition plays a role in helping you recover from an injury. If you are putting poor food choices into your body, your injury recovery process could be extended or delayed. Give your body the best resources to make a fast and full recovery.
This also includes sleep! Sleep is a time for regeneration and helps your body recover. Sleep also helps the mental side of recovering from an injury. If you are skimping on sleep, this can cause increased feelings of anxiety and make the injury recovery seem more doom and gloom.
If you need a little help with your meals, check out this meal building guide I have put together. This will give you a great foundation without having to count calories throughout the process. Learn how to make nutrition a helper versus a hindrance.
Need help navigating your training?
As you make adjustments to your training, the key is to know what you are working with. When is the last time you truly assessed your abilities and got feedback on how to improve your path forward? If you struggle to remember the last time you did this, I challenge you to fill out my performance questionnaire and take my assessment. From there, I will provide you some key points to focus on as you make adjustments to get more out of your training. The best part is that these steps are free of charge!
Coach Bo's blog
Here you will find posts about the topics that come up during the journey to your best performance!