Occasionally people have to pause their fitness routine due to injury. Sometimes they give up completely. Injury is often a sign to adjust the balance of what you’re doing so it pays to pay attention to the signs that something might need to change and act accordingly. Here’s a quick guide to minimising the impact of injury.
1. Don’t ignore an injury and hope it’ll go away
If something starts to niggle and it feels like it’s more than just a momentary inconvenience, don’t carry on with your workout. Some things you can ‘push through’ but you’ll probably know when this is the case and when you need to stop.
It can be tempting to tough it out so you can complete your workout but avoid this and instead err on the side of caution. It’s better to cut a workout short and come back stronger than to make an injury worse so you can complete a planned workout but then end up having lots of time off exercise.
This is an acronym for the ideal recovery schedule for many injuries. Following these steps puts you at the best advantage for a speedy return to activity.
Stop your workout.
Cool the affected area to prevent internal bleeding from injured blood vessels and capillaries. If blood collects in an internal injury it can take longer to heal.
This decreases swelling as fluid from surrounding tissue may seep into the injured area. More fluid in an injury can slow recovery time.
Raise the affected area as this also decreases swelling. If you're able to lie down with the injury elevated soon after it occurs you could reduce the severity.
3. Don’t rush your rehab
Being a patient patient will serve you well in the long run. By paying good attention to what you need to do to fix an injury, it’s possible to get back to what you love doing pretty soon. It’s also possible that the work you do to correct an injury can leave you stronger than you were before and also wiser about how to plan your ideal training routine.
4. Tackle the cause not the symptoms
You may benefit from some professional advice to help you pinpoint the cause of a specific injury. For example, knee injuries are often related to weak glutes; back injuries rooted in tight hamstrings and even neck pain can begin with weak ankles or tight calf muscles. The more you understand about how the body works and, crucially, how your body works, the more effective your injury prevention or rehab will be.
5. Think beyond exercise for optimum injury prevention
You might have tight shoulders and this puts you off cycling. But cycling might not be the only factor at play here. Think about where you spend most of your time – at the desk, in the car etc – and compare this with the time you spend on your bike. It could be that cycling is just the trigger for a problem that has its root cause elsewhere and that by fixing your daily posture and positioning, you are able to ride your bike without pain.
6. Never immediately assume that you have to give up on something you enjoy
Often the first thought when injury strikes is that it could be the end of your football / netball / rugby / running / hockey ‘career’. Stay calm, find out what’s actually going on and what options you have for continuing the activities you love – even if this means training for them in a slightly different way.
7. Add variety
No matter how much you enjoy your fitness routine and how well it works for you, it’s a good idea to regularly experiment with new ideas and keep your body challenged in new ways.
As long as you’re measured in your approach to new activities you should benefit from alternative ways to improve your fitness and reduce the risks of injury. Keep notes on what you’re doing so you can pinpoint what’s working or not working more easily and you can continually refine your approach over time.