Getting a sports injury can feel like the be-all-end-all of a healthy lifestyle, if you allow it. Depending on the severity of the injury, you can be required to rest for up to 12 weeks and the long term effects can prevent you from participating in certain activities. Not only does this impact your physical health, but it can also challenge your mental strength as you try to adapt.
We recently chatted to Lauren Hannaford, former Gymnast turned health and fitness professional to find out the best ways to manage an injury, so you can keep on top of those health and fitness goals and feel good in no time!
What are the dos and don’ts of exercising with an injury?
It depends on the level of injury that you have. The first thing would be to judge the severity because you know your body and pain level the most. Then decide whether you need to see a medical practitioner… If you feel like it’s just a little niggle, then any exercise you feel it in, don’t do! Allow it to rest and recover and find alternate exercises that help build strength around the injury and ease back into it.
When is it safe to start exercising again?
It’s safe when you get the all clear from the Doctor and assistance from a trainer… You need to listen to your own body and if it is saying ‘ouch’ in a way that doesn’t feel right, then stop and reevaluate… Even when you feel like your injury has gone, continue the rehabilitation exercises. Don’t expect that you can pick up where you left off. Lessen the weight you were lifting, the amount of reps you were doing and the intensity you were working at and make sure you have correct form.
What’s the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle if you’re unable to exercise?
Find an activity which suits what you can do, so you are getting those endorphins going and so as your brain and body are active and positive. For example walking to work instead of driving, or maybe some rehab water exercise classes. Even with an injury there is always an alternative to being able to keep yourself active and working towards achieving your goals.
Should you change your eating plan while you recover?
If we can’t move our bodies in the way that we like to get a good workout, then we need to adjust the food we put in it. We don’t want to be depriving ourselves of anything either though… Find little alternatives that can make a big difference in your week. For example, depending on your current diet and lifestyle maybe just opt for the one sugar in your tea each day instead of two. Or use a smaller bowl for your meals and pack the left overs away in the fridge so you are less likely to go back for seconds. If you create these habits now then it will only be more beneficial when you can start training again.
What’s the best way to overcome the mental barrier associated with an injury?
You have to keep a positive mind to have a positive response with your body. You see so often people not wanting to do alternative rehab type exercises because it reminds them of what they aren’t able to do due to their injury. You need to change your thinking and see it as a positive progression and a step in the right direction, because without doing the rehab, the time off training could be potentially doubled.