10 Tips for Working Out While Recovering from Injuries
The average number of sports and recreation related injuries each year in the U.S. is estimated to be about 8.6 million.
Whether you were injured during a workout or in some other way, it can be incredibly frustrating to get knocked off of your normal fitness routine.
In order to help you body heal in a healthy and timely manner, there are a number of things you’ll want to keep in mind.
Here are 10 tips for working out while you’re recovering from injuries.
1.Talk to Your Doctor
If you have an injury that’s affecting your day-to-day functioning, it’s best to see your doctor to learn if you need medical attention. Even if you don’t, your doctor can offer useful advice and inform you of your expected length of recovery.
It can be difficult to self-diagnose injuries, and a lot of fitness injuries share a lot of similar symptoms.
2. Stay Active
When you’re injured, it can be tempting to stay in bed all day. Even if you have a lower leg injury, there are plenty of seated and floor exercises you can do.
You can focus on muscle groups other than those that are injured. If you are too sedentary during your healing process, you can lose the progress you’ve gained from previous training.
Slow or gentle yoga can be a great way to stay active while injured. It encourages your muscles to stay engaged while you’re in recovery.
3. Don’t Push It
While you don’t want to be completely sedentary, you also don’t want to push yourself too hard. It’s very important that you ease back into exercising. If you’ve been off your feet for a little while due to the initial recovery, your body might not be ready to exercise with the same vigor as you’re used to.
If you don’t take it slow, you can end up making your injury worse, meaning your recovery will take even longer.
You want to be moving your body, but you don’t want to be over-exerting yourself. Ease back into exercise with gentle movement. Little by little, depending on your injuries, you can slowly increase the intensity of your workout routine over time.
4. Listen to Your Body
It’s great to have a weekly workout schedule, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the signals your body is sending you. Just because you have told yourself you’re going to do exercises every afternoon, that doesn’t mean you should push through if you feel pain.
Pain is your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t right. If your doctor has prescribed you painkillers, this can be a dangerous combination with working out. This is because they mask the pain and you might not even realize when you’re injuring yourself.
When working out, it’s normal to feel a little discomfort. That being said, if you feel extreme pain however, than take a break and rest for a while.
5. Start Stretching
One of the safest exercises you can engage in is stretching. Whatever exercise you plan on doing as a part of your recovery, it can be a good idea to engage in gentle stretching before exercising. Whether you’re doing exercises at home, at the gym, or outside, you should find easy stretches that help get your muscles warmed up.
6. Go For Walks
The most natural movement of the body is walking. If working out isn’t exactly possible due to your injury, walking is an excellent way to keep the body moving.
A great form of light cardio, walking has a ton of benefits. Here are just a few of walkings possible health effects:
- Improves circulation
- Improves your mood
- Aids in weight loss
- Strengthens muscles
- Might lengthen lifespan
- Can stop the loss of bone mass
- Improves your sleep
- Supports your joints
- Improves your breathing
- Can slow mental decline
- Might lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease
That’s not even to mention how pleasant walking can be, particularly if there’s a nice wooded path near your home. Of course, if you have ankle and foot injuries, brisk walks won’t be your first go to exercise. If your injury doesn’t affect your ability to walk, though, then go for it!
7. Focus on Nutrition
Recovering after an injury isn’t just about being active. It’s also about feeding yourself the nutrition your body needs to heal itself and get back in working order. By incorporating healthy foods and supplements into your diet, you can assit your body in its healing process.
If your injury is making you bed-bound for some time, you may be tempted to drop your calorie intake. While this might make sense depending on your circumstances, it isn’t necessarily the right thing to do to limit your caloric intake when you’re injured. If you do, it could cause you to lose strength, have decreased energy levels, and experience muscle loss.
There are a lot of anti-inflammatory foods that you can add to your diet that could help your body during the healing process. Some anti-inflammatory foods include:
- Raw oats
- Green tea
- Dark chocolate
- Wild salmon
- Red peppers
- Black beans
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Chia seeds
- Lacto-fermented foods
- Bone broth
- Raw honey
On the other hand, there are also a lot of foods that you’ll want to avoid that could promote inflammation. These include:
- Refined sugar and refined sugar products like soda and candy
- Processed foods
- Refined grain products like white pasta and white bread
- Certain oils like safflower, corn, peanut, and soy oils
- Deep-fried foods
On top of keeping your diet in check, you’ll want to make sure you’re drinking plenty of water. Staying hydrated will help your body perform the necessary functions it needs in order to heal.
8. Practice Active Recovery
What is active recovery, you ask? Well, typically, an active recovery workout includes practicing low-intensity exercises after performing a strenuous workout. Of course, depending on your injury, you might forgo the strenuous workout part and simply perform some of the low-intensity exercises.
There are a number of common activities that can be performed as a part of an active recovery routine. What one of these routines consists of can vary widely depending on your condition and the nature of your injury. A few of these are:
- Walking or jogging
- Tai chi or yoga
- Myofascial release
- Physical therapy
Remember, you’ll want to consult your doctor before starting any kind of exercise routine. They’ll be able to help guide you in terms of what could help your healing process and what could potentially lead to further injury.
9. Don’t Forget to Rest
When you’re injured or sick, getting enough, high-quality rest is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Along with staying active, eating well, and staying hydrated, getting rest is essential to your body’s ability to heal itself.
Depending on how serious your injuries are, you might have to rest at first for an extended period of time. Listen to your body and listen to your doctor in terms of when you can start implementing a weekly workout schedule.
Not only will you want to get good nights of sleep and as much rest as your body needs, but you’ll want to be sure to rest between excercises too. When you have an injury, your body has a lot on its plate. That means that you can’t push it as hard as you might be used to doing.
10. Be Patient
Being injured can be incredibly frustrating, particularly if you’re a serious athlete. It is normal to go through a grieving process after obtaining a serious injury if fitness was a major part of your life.
That being said, it’s important to recognize that time is an essential element in the healing process. Having patience can help you find peace with your situation. You’re likely not going to make your injury disappear over night, so don’t push through pain or be unrealistic about your length of recovery.
Treat Your Body With the Care it Deserves When Recovering From Injuries
Recovering from injuries can feel like a long and drawn-out process, but there are a lot of ways you can help your body out along the way. By understanding the limits imposed by your injury but also helping your body heal with good nutrition, sleep, and exercise, you can ensure that you don’t end up recovering for longer than necessary.
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