Injured? What now?

As a workout warrior, there will be times when you feel a tweak here or there while training. It’s sort of a double edged sword where injury is concerned: if you train too much, your body will wear out and break down, conversely, if you don’t do anything, your body will deteriorate at an alarming rate. I choose to train and deal with a little wear and tear.

Your body is an amazing machine. It will take care of you if you take care of it. Many people experience a serious lack of common sense when they get injured. Here’s some practical advice to get you back in the saddle again:

1) (Obviously!) Stop doing any movements that cause pain.

This seems like a no-brainer, but so many people try to push past the pain in an effort to maintain their fitness regime. Your body is signaling pain for a reason. Pushing through a fresh injury and ignoring pain is the last thing you want to do. Your routine will need to be adjusted in order not to aggravte the problem. Many people feel that if they ‘lift lighter’ with the injured body part that they won’t cause further damage. If you’ve done this before, you know that you only cause further inflammation and pain in the end. Listen to your body. Rest the injury, but continue to train other body parts. Don’t let an elbow injury stop you from training lower body for example, just work around what’s hurt.

2) What happened?

Write down everything you can remember about what you were doing when you injured yourself or first felt the pain. Move carefully and slowly through the motions that cause the pain so you can pinpoint what movements are making it hurt. The more information you have the better. Your doctor or trusted professional can make a better diagnosis with more information. Memories get foggy over time and its best to write the information down while it’s fresh in your mind. At the very least, a date is helpful as to when you think the injury occurred.

For me? I have a detailed training log which chronicles each ache and pain so I know when something may have started or what movement may have caused it. It’s served me well over the years.

3) Ice is your friend.

Always apply ice for the first 48 hours. Even though heat may feel nice, using heat is not recommended for a new injury. Apply ice a few times daily for periods of 15-20 minutes.

4) Move it!

Recovery will be a faster process if you get some ‘active rest’. This means that you should move your body in ways that don’t aggravate your injury. With the increased blood flow to all areas of your body, you will feel better and it’s more likely that your injury will heal faster than if you stay sedentary. There’s almost always an exercise alternative to your regular routine and chances are the cross training will be good for you.

5) Find a qualified professional.

Common sense and the extent of your injury should dictate if and when you seek the advice of a professional. If the injured body part is not feeling better in a few days, you should seek medical attention. If you wait too long, you may cause more damage or your recovery will be delayed. You may seek the advice of a chiropractor, or physiotherapist as well as a sports doctor or family physician. (I’ve made the mistake of waiting too long to get things checked out, believe me, it’s sometimes easier to deliver advice than take your own!)

Unfortunately an occasional injury is to be expected at some point by anyone involved in an intense fitness regime. However, managing any injury is the key to long term fitness and health.