Training after an injury

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Training after an injury

Getting back into training after an injury

We are all terrified of the day we injure ourselves while training and are told we cannot train for at least 3 weeks. For many this time has already come, and it was probably the longest feeling 3 weeks in your whole entire life, like what else am I supposed to do … relax? Although you may feel like you can train in this time it’s probably for the best that you do put your feet up and relax. Depending on what is causing the injury will also reflect on your recovery time, for example a muscle pull or strain will be a lot quicker than a tear or broken bone. Whatever your injury is its important not to train (at a high intensity at least) until you are fully recovered. After an injury it can also be harder to get back into the habit of training or the injury could have knocked your confidence to return. If you feel like this is an issue, then this is the article for you as we are going to be going over ways that make getting back into training that little bit easier. 

Start slow

On your time off its likely your fitness or strength has suffered. So, when you do feel like going back to the gym its important to start slow and light otherwise you could increase your risk of getting injured again. Going all in could lead to bad form which can also increase your risk of hurting yourself and lifting too heavy could lead to a muscle tear. Its recommended to start a lot lighter than you would have usually done and to do a good warm up so you are physically and mentally ready for training. 
Although doing nothing for all that time can dawn on you, its important not to start training too early. Its best to seek medical advice from a professional on when to even start thinking about getting active again. To slowly build it up you could start doing low intensity exercises like walking or lightly jogging and build it up from there. Although this won’t give you the same buzz as normal training its better than sitting down and watching tv all day. 

Stretch it out 

As you have likely been doing nothing for the duration of your injury, its likely your muscles and joints are going to be stiff. To loosen up and feel more flexible stretching is the way to go. Its best to stretch before and after exercise. As well as improving flexibility stretching can also improve circulation and muscle soreness. There are also many other ways to improve muscle stiffness like warm baths, massages, and regular exercise. If you would like to learn about some effective stretches for loosening up your body check out this post by Amy Marturana Winderl, where she goes through the best stretches to improve flexibility.  

Get a second opinion

Although you may believe your ready to go back into training full force, your recovering injury may say otherwise. If a medical professional believes you should be sitting at home for months, then it’s probably the best thing to do. Even though you may feel well enough to train there could be a change the injury has not fully recovered and we could end up making this worse. For example, a bicep tear could take months to fully recover, if you started training before it fully recovered there is a great chance the tear could happen again and be worse. 
As well as medical professionals you could also seek advice from other athletes that have experienced injury. As these people have ben in your situation before its best to get the advice from them as they have lived through the same thing. You could also pick up some pretty useful tips from just asking people with more experience.

If it hurts stop

This one goes pretty much without saying but if what you are doing is causing your injury pain in anyway its for the best if you stop. Its important to push yourself but not when your body is recovering from an injury. An easier way to think of it is to imagine your body as a car with an nearly empty tank of fuel, it would be a good idea to take the car on a long run without fuel the same way it would be wise to train with muscles that are half recovered. Carrying on even though it hurts will likely worsen the injury and result in more time out. Remember, pain is gain but only when you’re not recovering from an injury. 

Don’t forget about diet

Like many things your diet plays a big part in recovery. Your body must be supplied with enough nutrients to recover and this is achieved by a healthy balanced diet. Protein is essential for healing muscle and keep your immune system strong. When recovering you also want to be consuming other vitamins like vitamin C , zinc, calcium and vitamin D. These nutrients make proteins called collagen that is needed for repairing ligaments and tendons, they are also good for health bones and healing wounds. To find out more about how what to eat when recovering check out this article.
As well as eating the right foods its also important to stay hydrated. Water is good for recovery as it can reduce pain by flushing toxins out of your body and can lubricate joints making you more flexible. As water makes up two thirds of the body and is 80% of muscles, staying hydrated can also contribute to keeping your gains wile not training so no need to worry about all that hard work going to waste. 
Overall, when returning to the gym after an injury its important to be extra careful about how you are training and your diet. The best thing to do would to be to enjoy your recovery time and put your feet up. It’s likely you will not get this much time to yourself again so may as well make the most of it while you can. Although you will be itching to get back into training, its crucial you are able to train first and do not start prematurely. If you have any questions, ask someone who has a valid opinion on the subject like a medical professional or another athlete as these people will point you into the right direction.