So you’ve finally gotten into a great exercise groove and nutrition plan to go with it. And suddenly an injury pops up – what do you do to stay on track?
Get checked out by a doctor. You may just need to rest for a few days, but make sure you haven’t done something serious. A doctor may prescribe physical therapy, or run further tests to see what the issue really is. Dr. Angela Fain a sports chiropractor, marathoner, and Ironwoman says “If someone is injured, I’d recommend they seek out a sports-related doctor, for example a CCSP (Certified Chiropractic Sports Practitioner) or a clinic that specializes in athletes.”
Try to prevent injuries before they happen. Dr. Fain has two recommendations before starting a new workout. Have a baseline level of fitness before starting something more challenging, such as a bootcamp. Also, be sure to get to the class early and speak to the instructor about any injuries you may have. She says “I can’t tell you how many people have come to me and said ‘I knew I was doing something wrong, but I didn’t want to stop.’ Had they spoken to the instructor ahead of time, maybe something could have been modified or the instructor could keep an extra eye on them to ensure proper form.”
Look for alternative workouts. Running injury? Try spinning or swimming instead. Look for a yoga class. If you need to stop the workout that caused the injury, it may not mean you need to stop working out altogether, but it may be a good time to try something new that works different parts of the body.
Rest and take time to recover. If the injury was a repetitive use injury, don’t jump back into that exercise too quickly. You may set yourself back several weeks by coming back too soon. Work with your doctor or physical therapist to ensure you have a plan in place to heal and strengthen before returning to work. Dr Fain says “In terms of getting back into exercise after an injury, I used the 30% rule. A patient can do 30% intensity for the full amount of time, or 30% of the time at full intensity. As they start to feel better they can increase by an additional 30% until they get back to their full activity. Don’t be discouraged if you lose some of that momentum you were building before the injury. Your muscles have memory and it won’t be like starting from scratch. Be patient and take baby steps.”
Stay focused on nutrition. If you are unexpectedly cutting back on exercise, remember to stay focused on your nutrition plan. You may not be burning the same amount of calories you normally do, so make sure to eat as clean as possible. Stick to fruits, vegetables, lean means and whole grains to stay on track and remember to minimize sugar and processed foods in your diet as much as you can. Lisa Lowrie, a Certified Nutritionist says “it is important to note that the diet should be rich in essential nutrients. Proteins/amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. These must be ingested because our body doesn’t make enough of them. This is standard care for everyone. Foods that are effective for inflammation symptoms are curry powder/turmeric, garlic, pineapple, cocoa, tea, blueberries, ginger, fatty fish. I would also go so far as to recommend reducing stress and cortisol by limiting sugar, caffeine, and alcohol.”