What do you do when your fitness goals get set back by an injury? It happens often and being active sometimes means you will have the unfortunate obstacle of an accident or injury. Depending upon the severity, there are a few techniques you can employ to keep your goals from slipping too far away.
First and foremost, see a Doctor and find out what is wrong. It would be in your best interest to also seek out a Doctor who specializes in Sports Medicine and who has experience working with Athletes. And do what your Doctor says! Many times you’ll be told you need to rest and this is a crucial component to recovering. Do ask your Doctor what he/she will allow you to do for exercise. Sometimes, you can still rest the affected area while training another part of your body. If you Doctor suggests Physical or Occupational Therapy, do it. These types of therapy are meant to get you back moving and functioning well. When you are injured, your mobility can be hindered and most likely your body is not moving normally, causing an imbalance in muscle function. If you do not address the issue, you will likely cause even more problems.
If you are allowed to participate in a modified workout while recovering, find exercises you can do that are safe, do not affect the injured area and that you can do with proper form. I would suggest not doing any exercises where you are using your body in an imbalanced way. Don’t sacrifice your form and alignment just to work on a specific muscle. The mind set during this period of your training should be to work on the body parts that you can in a manner that will keep you moving and active. You may have to set your goals aside for the time being and work in a maintenance phase. Your new goal will be to heal and to keep the body moving as best it can.
Personally and professionally I have trained myself and others through injuries. Personally, I had to modify my training while in a boot for three weeks, over a 2 1/2 month period after breaking my hand and with minor injuries of muscle strains and pulls. Each time, I had to create a workout plan that I could do without causing further injury. During the time I wore the boot, I did all upper body and core exercises. When I broke my hand, I ran and did lower body exercises. When I have had issues with pulled or strained muscles, I employed the techniques of massage, dry needling, A-stym and rest. Professionally, I have helped many clients continue working out safely while in a modified plan. I even have a video I made for one of my clients who had to do everything seated. You can see that here.
If rest or an actual complete break from working out is part of your recovery, take it! I know this can be hard to do, especially for active people. This is what I always say to my clients, if you don’t rest and heal completely, you may actually end up exacerbating your injury and your recovery time will automatically be increased. Think about it this way, your Doctor may prescribe 4 to 12 weeks of rest. If you disobey and injure yourself even more, you might be looking at an additional 4 to 12 or even 16 weeks of rest. Why make your recovery time longer? Allow your body the time to heal. It will be better for you in the future.
It can be discouraging to have to take time away from your workout plan when dealing with an injury. Especially when you have started to make progress and are motivated. Try not to allow negativity to creep into your mind. Look at this time as a short season where you will do what you can and when the time is right, you will go right back to your plan.