“No pain, no gain,” they said.
But when you’re nursing an injury, it can feel like you aren’t making any gains at all.
Don’t let it knock you back, though. Workout injuries are common and well-documented.
We know it can be tough to stay in shape when an injury is dragging you down, but injury can be a great time to stop and re-evaluate.
You’ll need to get used to easing into things, so let’s start right here.
Get Back To Basics
Whether you can jump back in immediately or need to dial it right back, now is a great chance to go back to basics.
Re-frame your thoughts
You know you have options, so it’s time to think about what they are. Now that you have some extra free time, take a moment to think.
First, work through accepting the situation. You can’t wish an injury away or work it off with your old routine, so don’t waste the energy on denial. Accept the injury, and accept you need to make some changes.
Next, review your options. Revise your goals (realistically!) and determine what you can do to get there. If you’re serious about what you do to stay in shape, then you’ll know that mentality is everything.
Most of all, stay motivated!
Re-balance your diet
Since we’re going back to basics, it’s time to take another look at the diet.
An injury is a great time to look at what works and what doesn’t. Bring out your diet plan and take a look at it. Does it still work for you? What can you change?
Drop some bad habits. Add some good ones. Learn to cook a few new meals.
However, be aware your dietary needs may change when you’re injured. If your workout time suddenly drops, your body takes a while to adjust. Watch your calories carefully, but don’t starve yourself and slow the healing process.
Upgrade your sleep
Have you been cramming your workouts into ever-longer days? Struggle to shut down when you go high energy?
Now’s a great time to step back and draw some strict boundaries. Get the sleep cycle back on track. Lack of sleep can foil your attempts to stay in shape, and too many late nights will lengthen your recovery time.
That extra sleep will pay off. We undervalue sleep in our society, but the health benefits of sleep are huge.
Rest and socialize
With your spare time and energy, it’s time to treat yourself. No, we don’t mean sleep in all day and play video games. Rest productively.
How, you ask?
A great way to rest is to socialize. Use that free space in your calendar to spend time with family or catch up with friends. Not only is it fun, but you’ll be keeping the pressure off your body and drinking up those sweet endorphins.
Bond with the kids. Play with the dog. Your mind needs to stay in shape as much as your body.
Stay In Shape
With your habits and mentality under control, it’s time to help your body. Here are some tips for starting out.
Build your core
Most injuries are likely to occur in the limbs, which means your core has no excuse! Get back on the crunch train and help your core stay in shape.
The best part? A strong core actually reduces the chance of injury. Injury to a limb often occurs when we’re working from the limb instead of our much stronger core.
Working your core can help remind you of where that strength truly comes from. Besides, keeping your abs in shape when you’re down with an injury is enough to impress anyone!
Now more than ever, you need to stretch out before you work out.
Yoga can be a great way to bring some stretches into your life. It will put strength into your core and limbs, and loosen tense muscles.
Once you’ve eased your body back into the habit, it’s time to move it on.
Go lighter and longer
You’ve got the core strength, so keep this mantra in mind: lighter and longer.
What do we mean? Lower the stress and increase reps. Lighter weights worked for longer can help you focus on your technique as you slowly rebuild strength.
If you’re working the injured area, be methodical. Feel how it moves, and don’t be afraid to stop when your body tells you to.
Your bench press might not amaze, but your body will know about it if you do the reps.
Make a splash
Doctors recommend swimming to pretty much anyone and with good reason. Even those with significant disabilities are still able to swim, so a mere injury is nothing!
Swimming is also a great (and often overlooked) workout. Fighting water resistance demands stamina, and swimming is a full-body aerobic exercise.
As a bonus, swimming can be a great social activity to keep you in the right mindset. You’ll find motivation in socializing, but also in seeing every kind of person out there doing it.
Work with your equipment
Technology is on your side here. With modern gym equipment, you have a lot of options for easing back into your routine.
But it’s easy to overstretch yourself early on. Keep an eye on your heart to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard – but also to see the progress you’re making.
So you’re back on the horse and you have a new game plan. Great!
But what can you take from this experience?
Well, it’s a great learning opportunity. Sometimes injuries just happen, but often you’ll know exactly what you did wrong and can look out for it in the future.
Working out is like any discipline. Experience is a function of time and mistakes.
Congratulations! You’ve managed to stay in shape and leave the injury behind you. Don’t be surprised if you get asked for your secret! Now you’re back running at 100%, check out some more of our blogs for further hints and tips.