As much as we may try to avoid getting hurt, injuries do happen. Whether the injury happened at home, at work, playing a sport, in the gym, or from overuse, you may experience pain while trying to do your daily activities and when working out.
When injuries happen and you have pain while working out, you may be unsure if you should go to the gym or just take time off to rest and let things get better. You may also find yourself losing your energy and motivation to get to the gym.
While injuries are frustrating, you should be able to continue training at the gym. You may need to modify your program for a bit or change your focus to successfully train around your injury and allow time for your body to heal.
Before I give you some tips on how to train around an injury, here is a quick disclaimer: If you are having pain or think you may be injured, it is best to talk to a licensed healthcare professional to determine the severity of your injury and develop a proper treatment plan. As physical therapists, we will thoroughly examine you to determine the root cause of your issue and make sure nothing serious is going on that would require a referral to a surgeon’s office. The following information is for educational purposes only and not intended to diagnose or treat your specific injury.
Here are 5 tips to help you train around an injury:
Limiting the weights that you are lifting will decrease the total amount of work and force in an area. Higher loads can also bring out movement flaws that you may not have at a lighter weight. This should be your first line of defense to stay strong while allowing the tissues to heal.
2. Limit the range of motion.
If you are having pain moving through a full range of motion, then try to perform a partial repetition. For example, if you are having knee pain at the bottom of a squat, then try squatting to a box to limit your depth. As you start to feel better, you can slowly increase the range of motion until you are at full range again.
3. Choose a similar (but different) exercise.
If you are unable to tolerate a specific movement, then you may need to avoid that movement altogether. You will still want to train those muscle groups, but in a different way. For example, if you are having pain with pressing weights overhead, you could use variations such as a landmine press to avoid the overhead position while still targeting the same muscles.
4. Exercise other body parts.
If you can’t seem to find any exercise modifications that are pain-free, then you shouldn’t work out right? Of course not! Why lose out on all of the benefits of exercise just because you have pain in one place? If you have knee pain with all squatting variations, well you still have another leg that is not in pain, two arms that work perfectly fine, and plenty of other body parts. Get to the gym and work out what you are able to tolerate and try to stay as balanced as possible. Exercising will also lead to improved health and improved healing abilities. The more time you take off from the gym increases the chance that you will never go back to the gym.
5. Focus on nutrition and sleep.
It is important to mention nutrition and sleep here. While all of the other tips are important in training around your injury, you also need to do things to speed up your recovery. Take a look at your overall nutrition and see if there is something simple to work on. Maybe this means subbing out some processed foods for produce. Try to get 7-9 hours of sleep each night and stay on a consistent schedule. Good nutrition and sleep hygiene can help with pain levels and inflammation.
If you are dealing with pain or an injury, contact us to see if we can help you feel and move better. We will find the root cause of your issue and provide you with a long-term solution so you can stay healthy and in the gym.