How to Stay Fit While Recovering From An Injury
No matter what level of physical activity you engage in daily, injuries can have a physical and mental debilitating effect on your well-being. For a physically active person, the impact can be devastating and make you feel like you’ve lost progress. Taking it easy may be frustrating, but it doesn’t mean you’re out of the game.
While it may feel like you’re starting from Day One, your recovery, and how well you take care of yourself, will determine how well you get back into your routine. Instead of feeling like you’re out of commission, ease your way back into fitness by taking these steps to stay fit while you’re in recovery.
Listen to Your Doctor
Injuries are a part of life, and professionals are available to help you through the healing process. No one wants to sit through physical rehabilitation (especially if you’re stubborn), but the more thorough you’re about following instructions, the quicker you will heal.
Your doctor will most likely appoint you to a physical therapist, but it doesn’t have to stop there. According to Active Clinics (https://activaclinics.com/locations/kitchener-clinic/), there are many therapy services customized to help you heal from injuries and expedite your recovery.
Seek out professionals who work with an active population and can help you plan integrating back into your fitness routine. You may be able to find the perfect therapist for your needs at places similar to Luna (https://www.getluna.com/locations/river-north-physical-therapy), but this process shouldn’t be rushed, especially if you want to have the best chance at being able to fully recover. If you skip out on physical therapy, not only will it delay your healing, but your injury will limit your mobility as you age.
Listen to Your Body, Too
If you have one advantage over the professionals, it’s that only you can feel the message your body is trying to tell you. While it may be tempting to get back to your original routine and push through the pain, don’t. It’s recommended to stop as soon as you feel pain or discomfort that’s new or not expected.
Even if you’re doing the exercises recommended by your physical therapist, you should let them know what you’re experiencing before you proceed. Then they can help you pinpoint what’s causing the pain and offer a modified version to help with your recovery.
Modify or Switch Your Workouts
If you’re injured, it doesn’t mean you can’t do anything – it means you have to do things differently. How you modify your routine will depend on the extent of your injury. If you have a leg injury, you may be encouraged to switch to upper body workouts that allow you to sit down and vise versa. Here are some low-impact alternatives to consider:
MLK urged us to move no matter what, when he said, “… if you can’t run, then walk.” The same applies to your fitness goals. Before you can go back to intense training, you must conquer walking to keep your cardio levels up.
Resistance bands provide both cardio and muscle strength training – plus, you can do it from home. It’s affordable and makes a great temporary replacement for weightlifting.
While it can be tiring, swimming is a low impact workout that is easy on the body – all while providing plenty of cardiovascular exercises. If you can’t swim, there’s also water aerobics, exercising vertically in shallow water. Depending on your physical level before your incident, you might become fitter than ever.
While it’s not recommended for lower-body injuries, cycling is a low impact exercise that can be tailored to your fitness level. You can choose to bike upright or try recumbent biking if you have an injured back.
Adjust Your Diet and Calorie Intake
Eat for your success, no matter what your physical condition you have right now. Since your level of activity has changed, you’ll likely have to change your eating habits to match your current routine. Also, if you were planning to ditch the junk food and switch to a healthier selection – there’s no better time than now to reassess your intake.
If you’d like to take a step further and obtain some professional insight, consider consulting a dietician for macronutrient recommendations. They can work in conjunction with your physical therapist to calculate what you should eat, and how much of it to match your physical activity and recovery needs.
Allow Yourself to Heal Mentally, Too
Addressing the psychological impact an injury and change of lifestyle has on an individual is just as important. Many times, people who become injured and immobilized to some degree will experience anger and depression at some point during their recovery. However, your attitude is key to helping yourself heal because you can’t lose focus on what matters: getting better.
Acknowledge that you need patience and an optimistic outlook to get yourself through. Focus on becoming mentally strong as well as physically. Feeling angry or frustrated is normal, but don’t let it push you back from your healing process. Stay motivated to return to your original routine, and measure your small victories as well.
Life After an Injury
Every day, people and athletes associate injury as an end of their physical fitness – and sometimes their career. Instead of seeing it as the end of a story, it’s a new chapter. Envision recovery the same way you see fitness goals: a challenge that can be achieved through persistence to inspire others to do the same.