I'm injured? Now what? How to exercise and heal when injured.
If you're reading this, you or your client must have recently got injured. Regardless of whether it was:
- during the day, doing something like picking up a pencil or something equally unremarkable,
- tripping over a step that had a severe impact to the back or knee,
- doing something relatively straightforward in the gym, (or perhaps a little bit complex),
there's no easy way to say this. Training and exercising when you have an injury does suck. Some of the best things you can do:
Let yourself heal.
Make sure that you maintain a certain degree of fitness, so that you have less work to do when you head back to the gym again.
Maintain a good level of functions that you can actually do things in your day to day.
Pull back just a little bit so that you're able to have enough left in the tank to be able to recover from your injury depending on the nature of it.
Within our programs, there's a number of exercise programs that we've created for you if you have injured yourself.
One of them is Pre-made workouts. If you're self sufficient and you just want to be pointed in the right direction, or if you're just really not sure and you want to talk to someone. We also have coaches that can write a really specialized program, especially if the nature of your injury seems to be a little bit more complex than your everyday kind of run of the mill thing or you have a couple of niggles that may be inhibiting you from reaching your best.
For instance, if you have recently had a shoulder injury, you're just getting back into it and now you seem to have done something to your hip. You know, things do happen in clusters, so don't blame yourself for that. But if you do have a few things going on at once and you want to be pointed in the right direction, or you would like a more specialized approach, just reach out to us and we can point you in the right direction for that.
To prevent an injury in the first place, one of the best things you can do is stay active. When we remain active, we're less at risk of falling. We also have more chance of being able to “save” ourselves when we are put in an unexpected scenario.
Here are some other injury prevention ideas:
maintain a certain level of fitness and only incrementally increase that as you go.
Make sure that you warm up really well in the first place. A warm up should be about maybe a 10th of your workout. I like to look at about five or six minutes dedicated to just warming up especially when it's winter in Melbourne or wherever you are in the world. First of all, you need to get your head in the right headspace for working out but on top of that you just need to get more warmth through the muscles, more circulation and prime the central nervous system for what you're about to do, especially if you've been sitting all day. So always start your training with a moving warmup. I personally would recommend if you're particularly cold or you've been particularly sedentary prior (especially if you've been asleep or you've been sitting down all day), get yourself on a piece of cardiovascular equipment or maybe you park further away and you walk to the gym or you do an extra walk around the block if it's safe to do so. Wouldn't be recommending that maybe at 4am in the morning if you aren't so certain about how safe your neighborhood is.
On top of that, core warm ups are crucial. Bird dogs are one of my favorites. So are planks, get the transverse abdominals working, maybe some dead bugs and some side planks just so that you're getting that core warmed up and doing two sets of that so it's not taking it to failure. It's just literally just getting the muscle motor units primed and ready to start. There's many studies out there that have shown that during the warmup before your workout can help prevent injuries. One of the ways to think about your muscles and your ligaments is to think about them as rubber bands. When rubber bands are cold and you haven't done a little bit of a stretch with them beforehand they may not be able to accommodate extra use. So it can be very easy to snap them if you go just straight into the furthest position that you can with the muscles. So going from nothing to sprinting may not be such a great idea. Especially if you've been sitting down a lot: if you've been sitting in a kind of bent forward position where usually your back is flexed and getting yourself into the positions that's required for your workout: you need to wake up and reawaken all the muscles that are needed to support you during your workout. And you'll feel how it moves at the start of your workout especially when it's cold and in winter your movement just doesn't feel as nice and then all of a sudden you start loosening up with that extra blood circulation and therefore you feel less fragile so, also quite high on my list of things to talk about is how we should think about injuries and that's thinking about how it's going to affect us mentally and how it's going to get in the way of our day to day lives. It can be really quite frustrating, and you have a lot of negative emotions around the fact that you're injured. Maybe you sort of blame yourself for whatever it was you're doing when you got injured or you just feel like you're getting old and you're just telling yourself that this never would have happened if you were in your 20s but it does put you in a bad mood. It does help to recognize when you're in a really quite negative mindset and reframe that because every injury is an opportunity to tell you that something's not quite right in your exercise regime or there isn't enough balance in your exercise regime or maybe you need some of your form looked at for certain things. It may not be specifically in the exercises that you're doing. It may be stuff that you're doing in your day to day life. So maybe you're gardening and you're doing low from the ground, twisting upwards. Things like this can be quite harsh on the spine. So stuff like that it may be one that you want to have a think about how you can modify things, even lifting groceries from the ground: really square off onto things and lift things correctly in your day to day life as well so that you're not spending too much time in really taxing positions for your muscles and for your bones.
Now, before we get on to the next bit which is about training around the injury day, make sure that you've booked in to see a professional about the injury, especially if it's something that you haven't experienced before or it happened in an acute way or an accident or that sort of thing. Your physiotherapist or your GP will test a whole range of movements and they'll rule out things that are particularly dangerous or concerning. That may be extremely unlikely but it just gives everybody a peace of mind
so one way to proceed after you've been ruled out from anything that's more concerning than a simple muscle strain or tear or like sprained ankle or something like that is start to work before you can run. So do some of the movements as like a little bit of a test with no weight. See if you can for instance if your shoulder feels funny, see if you can reach above your head or just see what like movements that you actually couldn't potentially do. Sometimes people think that they'll be able to work their lower body and your squat but they actually can't hold on to your bar because of their shoulder or sometimes people think because they're training legs that their back will be okay but they don't realize that by holding on to weights in their hands they're putting weight through their core and like your core, your trunk region, that's your back so especially having weight like swinging around, probably not the best thing to do. Don't forget that.
During your recovery regime,
1.you want to prioritize sleep. I'd like to get one extra hour of sleep when I start a new regime or when I'm injured. So if I usually go for eight hours a night I'll try and get nine hours a night until I'm completely better again because there's some extra work to be done for the body when you're completely at rest.
2.Nutrition shouldn't be overlooked. If you're in a calorie deficit, you actually don't have enough extra energy for your body to go ahead and heal things. Sometimes you can prolong an injury that way so we want to make sure that there's enough energy to maintain if not a surplus to get you healthier faster because if you are uninjured, you'll be able to do a greater intensity than if you just remain injured and are in your calorie deficit because you don't want to put on white.
3.One of the most important things you can do for your mood but also for getting back into it post-injury is making sure that you stay active. Even if that's just for walks, like try everything that could potentially be done.If you feel like you're quite a novice in these things, they can reach out to us because we can get really quite creative around injuries and in fact the person who started all of this movement, and this website is particularly injury prone, she's quite uncoordinated. So she's had a lot of injuries and she's found a lot of ways to get creative with her injuries otherwise she would get bored very easily.
4.Another one that you can think of say you've injured your foot or your ankle, even though it may not be your favorite thing to do, is get really creative. Sometimes it just takes you to think outside the box to get you into a better place like I injured my foot. I realized I couldn't really walk, I couldn't really squat and I could only do some limited upper body stuff because everything required me to be standing up. So I was only able to do seated upper body exercises or abdominals if I didn't have my feet pressing against the ground and then even though I hated swimming pools, that became the best thing I could do to help get myself the mental capacity that I needed to get past the injury but on top of that, maintain my cardiovascular level and just really helped me get some of those really good endorphins that I had come to rely on from exercise. So whatever you do, do think outside the box and don't try to make yourself a victim or hero.
We all go through injuries and they're usually set to test us and we come out the other side feeling a little bit more robust. A common reaction to injuries is to desire to catastrophize them, believing that they will bring about the end of the world, that everyone else will avoid becoming hurt, and other such things. But it actually happens a lot more frequently than you realize. You're more likely to get injured if you're actually moving your body. So I mean that's a good trade off, instead of being unhealthy and the inside of your body not really being healthy or a well oiled machine. So think of it like a Lamborghini, if you never drive it and just keep it in your garage short, the chassis itself will look amazing. But it may not start because it's been designed to drive. But if you drive that around, you may get a few cell phone scratches. Or you may get a little bit of sun damage. But the thing is, the car itself will probably be more likely to run and run for a long time. So it's probably the best of all the evils to keep moving and just face injuries are part of life.
Now if you are facing an injury, do you remember that injuries do not heal in a linear fashion so it's not like the injury is the worst when you first do it and then incrementally over time. It gets lesser and lesser until it's all gone. We need to throw out that idea that in six weeks any injury can heal because that's just like terms that are just thrown around like in six weeks, everything will be fine. No, Injuries are not fine after six weeks. They usually are at the point where it doesn't hurt to breathe or something like that, but you'll usually be feeling them in some sense for quite a while even if you're doing everything right. You will get times when you've just simply overdone it or like due to other things that are going on, like stress in work and that sort of thing. Your ability to heal has been compromised, so even if you are on the road to recovery and have a tendency to have less pain and more functional, greater movement, there will still be occasions when the injury manifests itself slightly, but not to the same degree as when it was first hurt. But that should be much less over time. The trend would be a downward line, if that makes sense.
So, if you need any help just reach out! We're more than happy to help you and we do agree getting injured gets really sucky. It can make you more crabby as well. But guess what, we've all gone through it and we'd love to help you stay injury free and get out of this injury.