Have an exercise injury? Here’s how to get healthy faster
It’s never fun to sit on the sidelines, but almost everyone who exercises or plays sports will have to deal with an injury at some point. And when that happens, it’s important to handle it the right way. While it might be tempting to wallow in self pity, laze about, or push through the injury and exercise as usual, those mistakes will only make it tougher to get back to your pre-injury routine. We’ve been there before, so here are some tips for handling an exercise injury that we found most helpful:
Own your injury. You didn’t decide to get a stress fracture or sprain your ACL, but you can control what happens next. Talk to your doctor or specialists about what caused your injury and the treatment options they’d recommend. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to listen to your body during rehabilitation and avoid situations that may cause you to get hurt again.
Focus on what you can do. You’ll likely work with your doctor or physical therapist to rehabilitate the injury, focusing on strength, flexibility and balance. In addition to this treatment, experiment with workouts that don’t put too much pressure on your injured body part (as long as you get the go-ahead from your doctor or physical therapist first). For example, go swimming if you’re sidelined with a stress fracture or try the stationary bike if a few weeks have passed since you hurt your knee.
Maintain a routine. You may see your injury as an excuse to sleep through your a.m. workout or go to happy hour instead of the gym, but these decisions will impact how your body responds once you get the green light to work out again from your doctor. You worked hard to build up positive fitness habits; keep up the momentum so you don’t have to start from square one. Just substitute your usual exercise plan for one that’s approved by your doctor.
Focus on the long-term. The road to recovery is a marathon, not a sprint. During the rehabilitation process, prioritize small, recovery-oriented goals to stay motivated when things get tough. Once you’re cleared from a medical perspective, remember that you’re not going to pick up right where you left off before you got hurt, no matter how diligently you exercised in the interim. Stay patient as you work to get back on track, since overtraining today increases the risk that you’ll be hurt again tomorrow.
Have you had to deal with an exercise injury? How did you stay mentally tough?
Photo credit: Doug Sparks