Getting Your Groove Back After Injury

August 26, 2009 by  
Filed under The Fitness Bug

Avoid gym injuries

If there has been one thing that has affected me (like some kind of chronic disease) since I began to workout, it would injury. Whether it’s been self-inflicted or not, this has been the No.1 reason that has hindered me in achieving top workout results.  In my case, it had been an on going battle with a dislocated shoulder. Once you have a dislocated shoulder, it can always come back out, all it takes is for one odd ‘out of motion’ movement to happen and ‘pop’… out it comes. Injuries like this not only affect you physically, it also affects you mentally as well. The mental aspect of an injury will lead to thoughts such as

‘I’m injured, I’m gonna be out of action for weeks… again!’

‘That pain was insane… what if it happens too many times, my arm my fall off!’

Some of it might sound a bit silly, but when you are in pain you can’t help but think the worst. But it doesn’t have to be like that, after all, there is a positive in every negative. A silver lining in every dark cloud!

You can still workout

You can still work out because most injuries consist of one muscle or joint. Yes, if you workout while injured you may feel pain from moving that injured muscle, but most of it is psychological. Just isolate that muscle completely with bandages or whatever else you may decide to use.

The key thing here is that you must change your mind set from,

‘I’m out of action, time to curl up into a ball and cry’


‘What exercises can I do now that I’m injured’?

Better yet, try and avoid injury altogether by warming up, warming down and stretching before every exercise.

How to workout when injured

A key thing to avoid is compound exercises. These exercises work all joints of the body, such as doing rows and squats. When you are getting back into the groove of working out there are some things to keep in mind, some may seem like common sense, but many still seem to forget them.

Take it slow

You will naturally still want to push yourself like you do normally, but slow it down, you’re still injured.

Alternate exercises

By doing this you will prevent possible further injury, as working on one muscle group repetitively in one motion can lead to that.

Slight Pains or sores

If you do start to feel pain on your existing injury or else where, STOP!
Rest for a day, and then come back. If the pain persists after this then you should definitely see a doctor… (We don’t want your arm falling off now…eh)

It could possibly be a sore. If it is, you will probably feel soreness 24hrs after the workout, not during. The cure is simple. Rest and eat some pasta with meat and drink coffee or green tea. (Helps with muscle recovery)

Don’t try to be a hero

No one cares that you can train in pain. But you will care once the doctor tells you that you have a near terminal injury that will put you out of action for good. That is not cool, trust me, I’ve seen it!

Exercises to perform when injured
Lat pulldowns

Now that you know what not to do when injured, I’ll now describe what you can do when certain muscles are out of action.

Shoulders and elbows

Shoulder or other upper body injuries often allow the most possibility for continuing traditional cardio exercise because the lower body can still be worked on. This would include activities such as,

  • Walking (Treadmill – with care!)
  • Stair climbing
  • Cycling
  • Elliptical trainer

And exercises such as,

  • Leg press
  • Ab crunch
  • Lunges
  • Low back extensions

Circuit training routines are another option. By doing a circuit with the above exercises you will maintain strength and power in the non-injured muscles and joints. Do these 4-5 times a week and you won’t even realise that you had an injury to begin with.

Leg and knees

This is a tough one, because almost all exercises require the movement of the knee joints. Being injured here might leave you wanting to reconsider and stay at home, but don’t give in. Key activities would include,

  • One-legged cycling
  • Kayaking
  • An upper body ergo meter (hand cycle)
  • Swimming

Key exercises would include,

  • Pull-Up or Assisted Pull-Up
  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pull down
  • Overhead Press
  • Seated Cable Rows

Lower back injuries

These types of injuries really are no joke. If you get an injury here, be sure to consult with your doctor first, as further damage will almost definitely put you out of action for more than 3-4 weeks. Activities would include,

  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Recumbent cycling

Key exercises would include,

  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pull down
  • Overhead Press
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Leg Extension Machine
  • Wall Sit

Foot or ankle injuries

Providing that you can still walk and move around and only one foot is out of action, you have plenty of options to workout while injured. Activities would include,

  • Rowing machine or a stationary bike with one leg
  • Swimming is a possibility

Key exercises would include,

  • Leg Extension Machine
  • Chest Press
  • Lat Pull down
  • Overhead Press
  • Seated Cable Rows
  • Stability Ball Push-Up
  • Ab ‘Bicycle’ Crunches
  • Hanging Leg Raise

There you have it. No longer will you be curling up into a ball and crying when you are injured. If you are, it’s not likely that your body will change much in 3-4 weeks of being out of action anyhow. They key thing here is finding or keeping that motivation going and keeping in the groove. If you do have troubles doing so, I’d be happy to be your gym partner 😉

See you in the comments.

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