You eat right, work out regularly and steadfastly maintain your level of fitness. Then –ouch—you suffer an injury. It happens to the best of us. How to recover? Slowly, carefully and wisely.
Among fitness ailments, back injuries are the most common. Typically, they’re caused by not stretching enough, weak muscles or bad exercise form. Knee injuries are common for runners. Simply wearing the wrong running shoes can set you on a course for disaster. Even poor nutrition can contribute to injuries. Considering all these pitfalls, it’s no wonder the vast majority of us fall prey to injuries during the course of our fitness lives.
If you injure yourself during a workout, first apply ice to reduce inflammation, swelling and pain. Ice sessions should last no more than 20 minutes. Anti-inflammatory medications are usually a great help. Lay off the exercise for now. You need to focus on healing. After a couple of days, begin applying heat. Not too hot, though. A warm compress will suffice nicely. By this time, you can start exercising mildly. Do not, however, aggravate your injury. Swimming is usually a safe bet. Careful with the cardio. You don’t want to extend the life of the problem. Limit workouts to every few days, and you should be OK.
Stay positive while you recover. Though it’s easy to feel sorry for yourself, you don’t want to wallow in self-pity. You enjoy exercise, and typically go long stretches of time without setbacks. Life happens. Consider yourself fortunate for having been so healthy and injury-free for such a long period of time prior to now. Stay in touch with any workout partners so you don’t feel out of the loop. Visualization can be a powerful tool now. Imagine yourself healed and back in action.
When you’re healing from an injury, it’s important to adjust your nutritional needs. You won’t need as many calories, so be aware of this. Eat nutrient-dense foods like lean protein, whole grains and veggies. Stay away from refined carbohydrates. As always, avoid processed foods like the plague.
Hopefully, you’re feeling better by this time. First and foremost, remember how you got the initial injury in the first place…and try like heck not to repeat it. Prevention is key. Frequently, failure to stretch properly causes many an injury. Are you stretching enough? Perhaps increase your pre and post workout stretch routine just to be safe. Did your injury result from using gym equipment? Get a trainer, STAT. Can’t afford one? Most gyms offer a free personal consultation. Write all your questions and concerns down ahead of time and make the most out of your free training session.
Still not feeling so hot? Maybe it’s time to see the doctor. Though many average fitness injuries such as strains and sprains don’t require medical attention, some very much do. Pay attention to your body, and keep a log of your healing progress following the injury. If the pain gets worse, travels to other areas of the body, or results in different types of pain, you need a doctor’s attention.
While the threat of injury is always present when engaging in any sort of physical activity, the rewards are well worth it. Best wishes for a speedy recovery!