Working Out While Injured

I thought this post was timely as I recently had an injury that kept me out of commission for a couple days. I know it happens and I know it’s frustrating.  Maybe you pulled a muscle or have something that’s nagging you that’s keeping you from performing at your best.  So in this post I wanted to cover working out while injured. I want to give you some tips on what you can do and outline what you shouldn’t do.

Working Out While Injured – First Thing You Should Do

I know many people are hesitant to do this, but if it’s an injury where you think you might have a broken bone or a joint issue, you’ve got to go to the doctor.  I can’t stress this enough.  If it’s serious and you don’t get it checked out you could just end up making things much worse.  I’ll give you an example of why it’s very stupid to not go get things checked out:

working out while injuredA few years ago I was playing basketball outside with my brother and some friends.  During one of the games I fell and braced myself with my right hand.  Immediately after that I noticed that I could not shoot (I’m right handed) or pass the ball without pretty severe pain in my wrist.  Needless to say I was done for the day.  But I had just started a summer job that involved lots of manual labor, and I knew that if I had a cast on I couldn’t work.  So I decided to wait it out and hoped that it would get better.  Well 5 weeks went by and it was still bugging me, so I decided to go get an x-ray.  The doctor took a look and decided it wasn’t broken but that I should just wear a brace.  It slowly started to feel better and I didn’t wear the brace.  Over the next 7 months it would gradually feel better, but I kept having set backs.  I would be playing basketball or lifting weights and would tweak my wrist.  So after 7 months I figured I should go get it checked out again.  Guess what?  Yep, it was broken!  Not only that, but the break was cutting off the blood supply to the bone, so that bone in my wrist was dying.  So to repair it they had to take a bone graft from my hip and put that, along with a screw, in my wrist to ensure that it would heal.  It did heal with a cast for 6 weeks, but it still bugs me to this day on push-ups sometimes.

So why tell you that story?  Because I don’t want you to make the same mistake!  What could have been a cast for a month, turned into somewhat major surgery and a much longer recovery time with lingering pain.  That is less than ideal!  I did go in 5 weeks after it happened, but in all reality I should not have waited another 7 months to get it checked again.  Moral of the story: Go to the doctor when it just doesn’t feel right!  If something is really wrong, you need to know.  If you don’t go you’re risking it becoming something much worse than it needs to be.  And if you’re working out while injured, you could just make it worse

Working Out While Injured – What You Can Do

If there is something wrong, it doesn’t mean you have to completely stop working out while injured.  There might still be some things you can do to keep your fitness level up.  If I am injured, here are the things that I focus on:

Rest the injured part.  If it’s a muscle, then you need to avoid exercises that work that muscle.  For example if you have a hamstring problem, then you need to work your upper body.  Insanity would be incredibly tough with a leg injury, and probably not possible.  But you need to avoid damaging the injured body part so that it can heal.

Work other parts of your body.  If your leg is injured, then work your upper body.  If your upper body is injured, then work your lower body and your core.  Just because you’re injured, depending on the restrictions you have, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything.  Talk with your doctor about things you can safely do and focus on those body parts.

Focus on nutrition.  This is probably even more important when you’re injured than when you’re not.  You might lose some strength, but there’s no reason that you need to pack on the pounds.  You’re going to have to adjust the total calories you eat if you’re not working out, but you can still stay in great shape if you stick with your nutrition plan.

Have A Long Term View – Working Out While Injured

Finally, I want to encourage you to have a long term view of your health.  This might mean that you stop working out while injured if your doctor advises you that way.  But just know that your health is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  I know it’s easy to get caught up in wanting to get awesome results in 60 or 90 days, but we should all really be looking years ahead.  When you’re healthy, you can do more, you have more energy, and you can be more active with the people you love and care about.  So if you have to take a month off does that suck?  Yeah it does, and I hate times like that too.  But would you rather take a month break and heal completely or have a nagging injury that prevents you from going all out for a year or more?  Working out while injured can set you back if you’re not resting the injured part.  So, please, be smart about your injuries.  Go see your doctor and let them diagnose what’s wrong.  They have the training necessary to tell you what you should and should not be doing, so listen to them!

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