So how can you continue being active after you’ve suffered an injury? After some injuries, you really shouldn’t be active at all. Depending on the nature and severity of your injury, you may need to take a good, long break from your exercises or at least modify. The most important step you can take is to check with your physician and heed the proper medical advice.
The worst step you can take is to ignore it. Many people mistakenly assume that all injuries just disappear after time. What really occurs is that the body attempts to heal but may “heal” completely out of place, creating an asymmetry in the bone structure of your body and changes in your muscle that may create a lifetime of tightness in that area. You have probably heard (or even said), “My wrist (or knee or elbow or whatever) just hasn’t been the same since I injured it. And that was years ago.” Sadly, that persistent bothersome body part could have been less bothersome had you treated the injury properly in the very first moments it occurred. But even the best of us stubbornly expect too much of our bodies and deal with a persistent bad knee, shoulder, wrist, or elbow.
If your injury is minor, you can continue exercising, but you will have to modify your regimen and again heed the advice of your doctor. Here’s a basic rule of thumb for post-injury exercise:
- During the first 72 hours, REST! If you continue exercising with a new injury, you will inhibit your body’s natural healing mechanisms and possible exacerbate the initial injury. Don’t make it worse than it already is. Apply RICE- Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.
- After the first few days, you may begin slowly increasing your activity, modifying your routine as necessary. The body is an amazing thing–if you listen to it, you will know exactly what activities you can and cannot perform.
- Expect to feel post-injury pain and discomfort for weeks and even months. Take the appropriate measures to allow your body to continue healing–modify your exercises, keep the body part (wrist/elbow/knee) wrapped during activity, seek physical therapy, such as massage or adjustments, if that is recommended by your physician. There is also a new physical therapy technology out that uses laser to speed the healing of injured muscles. While it doesn’t perform miracles, it can aid in the healing process.
Above all, try to avoid getting injuries by exercising properly. Use control and correct form always. Let your personal trainer or group fitness instructor know of your injury so that he or she can offer appropriate modifications. And if, during a workout, any exercise causes discomfort, discontinue that specific exercise and opt for one that offers similar benefits without the impact or strain. Never “work” through a cramp or a pain, no matter how much pride you have. Stop, stretch, and modify. Remember, your body is the only one you’ve got, so be good to it!