Training Through an Injury

Training Through an Injury

When you’ve finally got a good fitness routine going, and injury strikes just when you’re enjoying it, it can not only be an awful feeling but can also put a severe dent in all your best laid plans. Whether you enjoy your workouts, or whether you workout just to stay in shape, injury time is hard on everyone and bouncing out of it without losing your gusto is quite a challenge.

With any injury, I advocate training around them - never stop training altogether. 

Also, with the exception of fractures and overuse injuries, too much rest can be bad. Resting a muscle strain, for example, can cause lifelong issues due to build up of scar tissue which will limit the Range of Motion (ROM) of the muscle.

What aggravates (and, indeed, usually causes) most injuries is joint impact. Swimming, biking, and rowing are all great exercises that exert little to no stress on your joints. Truly a total body exercise, swimming nearly eliminates any and all impact while providing your core, arms, legs, and heart an incredibly balanced workout. Swim sprints are excellent alternatives to the land-based versions.

Another low impact exercise, biking, is good for long leisurely journeys, or you can find some steep hills and do interval sprint training for a killer leg and cardio workout that won’t kill your joints.  Biking also saves gas money (we know prices have gone down, but you know it’s only temporary – plus, think of the environment!).

Rowing is an extremely rigorous upper body exercise, but it’s the fluid, smooth motion that makes it work for people coming off an injury. Start off slowly (either using a machine or an actual boat) and ramp up the intensity if you’re feeling up to it.

If you are unable do sprints because of a sore ankle? Try pull-ups, or burpees. Dislocate your shoulder, and now you can’t put up your max on the bench? Try doing four sets of 50 push-ups instead. Can’t keep up with your squat routine because of a herniated disc? Do body weight squats, or only use the bar. If you were a heavy lifter before the injury, these exercises certainly won’t make you stronger, but they will help you maintain your strength and keep you active and fit.

Leg and knee injuries can be fairly limiting for most athletes.

Almost all endurance exercise requires flexion and extension of the knee joint, so developing a new routine may be frustrating. One-legged cycling, kayaking, using an upper body ergometer (hand cycle) are options.

Back injuries can be difficult to recover from, so be sure to talk with your doctor about the specific type of back injury you have and your exercise limitations before you begin any alternate activities. Walking, swimming or recumbent cycling, are generally safe for those with low back pain and they will help you maintain cardiovascular fitness as you recover.

The important thing to remember is that an injury is not the end of your quest to live a fulfilling and active lifestyle. 

Don’t let it sideline you. With a little research and imagination you can train through an injury and usually come back stronger than you were before.

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