Recently, after excessive exercise and physical pressure, I injured my foot. My injury caught me at a bad timing and completely off-guard, as I had just found my new exercise routine without the gym. It’s the first time that I have a serious injury since I started working out more intensely over the last couple of years. While it’s important to take some time off to rest, heal, and recover, which I did, I also didn’t want to stop all exercise. So, I did some research and found ways to maintain base fitness while recovering from my injury. Here are some of my findings.
Despite what I wrote, there is no way around it – in sports, there are always injuries. However, if you simply want to maintain a base of fitness, there are ways to stay active. Before we carry on, it is important to add that dealing with an injury is just as mental as it is physical. So, whether you have to take two days or two months off from your schedule, make sure to prioritize both during your recovery. The mental health benefits of exercise include less stress, higher confidence, and even better creativity. And while it takes time to lose strength, the mental impact of removing exercise from your routine happens almost immediately. Of course, the treatment to use is the one most fitting to your condition. Here are the possibilities:
If you are sidelined for a few days – in the physical aspect, treat it as a time for recovery. Taking a few days off of exercise is no big deal. This time off is not only important for the recovery of the injury but also our performance. Our body needs some rest and recovery time, also for it to maximize the benefit from training and working out. In the mental aspect, use these few days wisely. Remind yourself that this is just a temporary situation and use this time on your hand productively, and if you are looking to replace the mental release you get from your workouts, try using relaxation methods like meditation.
If you are sidelined for a few weeks – In the mental aspect, use this time to cross-train. During an injury is the time to cross-train or to make time to train a specific strength or skill that will help with overall performance goals but gets forgotten during periods of training. If you are, for example, a runner and you injured your leg, this is an opportunity to work on your upper body, etc. In the physical aspect, you must work to fix the problem. See, when you are forced to take time off for more than a few days for a non-acute injury, it usually means your body is trying to tell you something. You can ignore the pain, can’t build strength on an injury without proper healing time. Try self-myofascial release or even turn to a physical-therapist.
If you are sidelined for a few months – in the mental aspect, stay positive, ask for support, and take action. Taking action, even simply by doing PT exercises or cooking a healthy meal, can reduce feelings of powerlessness and low self-esteem while simultaneously contributing to physical recovery. Turn to support from your surrounding and try to stay as positive as you can. In the physical aspect, seek and ask for an alternative. Unless you have an injury that affects your whole body, there is almost always something else you can do to stay active. Some general choices include yoga, swimming, and walking. And, if you are going to be out of commission for a long while, a good physical therapist will provide you with alternatives and substitutions to your usual workout. In any case, be careful and take care of yourself.