Should You Push It? 8 Tips to Exercising With an Injury

So, you got injured but you don’t want to get off track with exercising and consider “can I still work out? Should I push it?” Unfortunately, there is no cut-and-dry answer here. Each injury is unique and should be evaluated by a professional before beginning any physical activity, especially if it involves the injured area. Provided it is safe to do so, it is possible to continue exercising with an injury, however, there are several things to consider before you decide to hit your favourite Nunawading gym. Here are 8 tips for exercising with an injury.

No Pain, No Gain? No Go!

Have you ever heard the saying “no pain, no gain” applied to fitness? If you’re working out with an injury, this is the most important time to ignore the saying! In general, this saying is not intended to be applied to physical activity. In fact, it is much more related to business than to fitness, meaning “hard work pays off.” If you feel actual pain, especially when exercising with an injury, stop what you are doing and consult a trainer, therapist, or doctor. You might be sore and muscles may ache post-workout and into the following days, but actual pain should not be present.

Warm Up And Cool Down

As you consider how to stay fit when injured, create a workout that includes a warm-up and a cool-down. Begin with focusing your warm-up on “heating up” your muscles. This refers to increasing blood flow through movement. While stretching is beneficial for your muscles, you want to save that for later. Stretching “cold” muscles can actually lead to further injury.

 

The type of workout you plan to do can help guide the warm-up. Cardio workouts can benefit from full-body movements such as light jogging. Weight lifting can benefit from lightweight reps. When exercising with an injury (or to avoid injury) it is a good idea to include the full body in your warmup. Keep in mind what areas are the most prone to injuries such as ankles, knees, hips, back, shoulders, wrists, and neck to make sure that you include these in your warm-up.

 

Once you finish your workout, make sure you take the time to stretch out the injured area (and everywhere else). This is where you can incorporate those static stretches {stretches that you hold). It is a good idea to do stretches that focus on the arms, legs, and back. Because all the body systems are connected, any activity can aggravate or alleviate the symptoms of an injury.

Focus On Form

If you do nothing else you learn here today, (which we don’t recommend – be kind to your body) do this! Nothing will cause an injury while working out faster than poor form. If you’re already dealing with an injury, poor form can either make the injury worse or cause other injuries.

 

For example, if you are working out with a knee injury, almost any workout has the chance to make it worse. From running to bench press, the knees are involved in nearly every workout. All it takes is one misstep to redamage that area, and no one wants that. Using proper form will not only ensure you minimize the risk of further damage but also helps to strengthen the area and assist in healing.

 

Similarly,  if you are doing an upper-body injury workout and you use too much weight or overextend, you risk causing irreparable damage. It is a good practice to work out with a partner or trainer, use mirrors, and track your progress.

Consider Low Impact Activities

Because of the risk involved with working out while injured, it is generally considered best to start small and work up gradually. When you are ready to go back to the gym, low-impact activities such as swimming, elliptical training, and yoga are a good way to gauge your capabilities without risking serious injury.

 

Remember to bring someone with you or ask for a spotter and start slow. Injuries can be aggravated by overuse. Make sure you track your limits and your progress to prevent overuse. As you progress, you can move on to more difficult or high-impact workouts with a better understanding of your limitations.

Yoga Or Stretching

Yoga or stretching can help relax the muscles and strengthen injured areas. Through concentrated breathing and body positioning, yoga can be extremely beneficial in slowly acclimating the body back into shape. Different practices focus on different areas of the body to promote flexibility and strength. Many yoga poses are used in physical therapy because of the health benefits of repetitive practice.

Recovery

Fitness can be exhausting for the body, especially when you’re already injured. After all, regenerating cells isn’t an easy process. Remember to take time during and after workouts for recovery. Muscles need rest and relaxation to heal properly. Forms of recovery include rest, light stretching, massage, Epsom salt baths, saunas, hot tubs, or anything similar.

RICE

RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. While an injury is healing, continued care can improve symptoms and assist in recovery. Remember that your body is healing, it is okay to rest after physical activity. More than that, it is good for you.

 

Ice the area when necessary. This reduces inflammation and reduces pain. Compression can be helpful for certain injuries, however, use during a workout may actually hinder the healing process. Consult with a doctor or physical therapist to determine what kind of compression, if any, is appropriate for your situation.

 

Finally, elevation. This is important to maintain blood flow to the injured area which will reduce swelling and inflammation.

Heat and Ice

Consider using heat and ice after workouts. While some injuries may be helped with alternating hot pads and ice packs every 20 to 30 minutes, others need a more serious approach. Sitting in a hot tub or sauna after a workout promotes muscle health through increased oxygen flow during a state of relaxation.

 

Alternatively, it is common for athletes to take full-body ice baths after working out to reduce swelling in the muscles. This also can alleviate soreness over the next few days.

 

As you go through recovery, remember to listen to your body and take your time. It is okay to push yourself, just remember your limits. The rest will come in time.