Getting injured while training can be one of the most frustrating and upsetting things that you have to face as an athlete. After all, your workouts are supposed to be making you awesome – not breaking you. Often, it can feel like a betrayal.
On top of that, you then have to rethink the way that you train and may even have to sit out any planned competitions. So, how can you get through that rough spot? Here are five tips for training with an injury.
Understand The Problem – The term “injury” can mean lots of different things depending on your training style and situation. It could be anything from tendonitis to a completely detached muscle – which require totally different approaches. The first step you need to take, then, is to educate yourself on your particular injury and how it will impact your sport specifically. Consult a doctor or other qualified professional to get a better idea of what you’re dealing with and how to proceed. The most basic and commonly used recovery method is known as RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate. This approach, however has been pretty heavily criticized over the past several years in light of modern research which suggests that both ice therapy and complete inactivity can actually slow the healing process.
Focus On Recovery – Once you’ve identified the injury, you need to make recovery a priority. This means that you will likely spend less time actually training and more time treating the problem. If you did receive specific guidance from a doctor or trainer, follow those recommendations. Otherwise, light stretching, foam rolling and hydration are powerful therapeutic tools that you can use at home while you’re watching TV or just generally doing nothing.
Change Your Mindset – Usually, you train for improvement. Which means that you are actively pushing yourself to make progress from session to session. When dealing with an injury, however, you simply can’t train that way. That will only lead to more injuries and slow your recovery. Instead, you have to think about how to adjust your workouts to compensate for your injury – whether that means taking it easy on that particular body part or avoiding it’s use altogether. Remember, at this point, your goal is to get better.
Crosstrain – An injury may actually provide a perfect opportunity for you to crosstrain and improve some other typically ignored aspect of your fitness. By using a different activity, you can avoid using or overtraining the injured area but still work on a skill that will complement your performance once everything gets back to normal. A runner dealing with an issue in their knees, ankles or feet, for example, may be able to cycle without much difficulty. Or this could be a great time to focus on strength training to develop power in your legs and help prevent the injury from showing up again in the future.
Active Rest – As mentioned above, complete inactivity isn’t always the best way to encourage recovery. Active rest, though, can be a powerful tool. While crosstraining can be a form of active rest, you could also simply train at a lower intensity. The idea is to stay moving, just at a much lower intensity than you would otherwise. Runners can walk or weightlifters can dramatically reduce the amount of resistance they use.