An injury can have a devastating impact on your training and racing plans. Many of us rely on the training structure and routine to keep us grounded, and having this routine disturbed by an injury can be very difficult to manage. However, it's not all bad news! You can still find a way to exercise safely when you’re injured.
Use these strategies in your exercise program to stay in shape (in both body and mind) while you heal:
1. Evaluate your injury and get expert help
It’s tempting to start exercising while you’re still healing. However, it’s important to consult a doctor/physio and ideally a coach before you start to exercise again. They’ll be able to offer important advice about your specific injury and your limitations.
2. Change your workout routine to accommodate your injury. The old exercise routine isn’t going to work for an injury that is still healing. You’ll have to create a new training schedule to stay in shape, with new priorities:
First, avoid making the injury worse and adding new issues.
Second, you can still burn enough calories to achieve your goals.
In order to accommodate these new priorities, you may need to adjust the intensity of your workouts or where you exercise. If going for a run is too difficult, then consider exercising at home, getting on a cross trainer, or swapping your run for a bike or a swim. If you can no longer handle being outdoors, try to find an indoor routine.
3. Work on other parts of your body. If you have an upper body injury that limits you, then consider exercises that focus more on the lower body.
If you can no longer do the intense swimming or weights workout because of a shoulder injury, then consider adding an extra bike or run to your programme, or use your shoulder rehab exercises as a specific session in their own right.
Isolating the upper body or lower body during a routine is one way to stay in shape.
4. Consider water exercises. Workouts in the pool can be low impact and can help you heal from an injury without making it worse.
Aqua jogging or swimming with a pull buoy or a kick board may be options to work around your injury
5. Maintain a healthy diet
Exercise is only one part of a bigger plan to stay in shape. Your diet also matters, but an injury can wreak havoc on it. You may be tempted to indulge in treats because they’re convenient and you’re feeling sorry for yourself. However, it’s important to stay on track with your diet program.
6. Reach out to your friends for support. An injury can make you feel isolated. Keeping up your connections with your friends can help tremendously.
Your friends can be powerful motivators for you to stay in shape while you’re healing. They can encourage you to keep exercising within safe limits and join you as personal cheerleaders.
7. Don’t push yourself too far. Although staying in shape is your goal, you don’t want to make the injury worse or create a new one.
Your ability to keep exercising will be affected by an injury, but it’s crucial to remember that healing takes time. You have to give your body the chance to heal properly, or you’ll be faced with more serious issues in the future.
Keep in mind that injuries affect the body and mind. You need time to restore your health. Make sure you get plenty of quality sleep.
Luckily, in most instances, you can exercise while you’re healing from an injury. Staying in shape can even help you heal quicker, as long as you’re careful with your exercises and you don't push through pain and you follow the advice of experts.