It always happens just when you’re on the right track to eating healthy, losing weight and living a more active lifestyle as a whole – a disastrous injury strikes, leaving you out of the gym for weeks and feeling bad about not being able to continue with your workouts. Then the bad feeling leads to “comfort” eating. Then comfort eating leads to gaining back all the weight you were working so hard to lose before you were injured.
Let’s face it, injuries stink. All they do is set you back while you’re right in the swing of things. But everyone ends up having to deal with them at some point in their lives, whether it’s knee injuries, back injuries, foot injuries or something more severe. The key, then, is to know how to overcome them quickly to get back into your workouts as soon as possible, and these simple tips should help you accomplish just that.
Most people know that when an injury occurs, it likely needs to be iced. Applying ice with a little bit of pressure can help reduce swelling in the area, and long-term icing practices can help relieve and prevent injuries well into the future, as well. What most of these people don’t know, though, is how to properly ice their injuries.
Proper ice application should not feel comfortable, and in fact will immediately feel cold against the skin, among other things. Make sure you are placing a thin layer of fabric between the bag of ice and your skin to avoid any major cold burns. The initial feeling should be cold, followed by a burning sensation in the area being iced, then a general aching feeling. Finally, the area will go numb (remember the acronym CBAN – cold, burn, ache, numb). This is when you should remove the ice.
Too many people either don’t ice for long enough due to the discomfort of the ice bag, or they ice for too long, which, in extreme cases, can result in tissue damage. Apply ice for roughly 20 minutes, take 20 minutes off, then repeat as necessary. A regular icing routine will have you back up and ready to work out again in no time for minor injuries.
Allow Enough Rest
The best thing you can do for your body if you suffer from an injury is obviously to rest it, but that’s often the hardest part about the injury. You hate sitting still. You’re dying to get back in the gym. You want to go out for a run. You want to jump up and play with the pets or the kids or friends, or so on.
It’s important to remember that allowing yourself proper time to rest will only help increase the rate at which your injury will heal. If you try to push yourself through an injury, you will only end up making it worse. Do your body a favor and make your mind suffer through the rest. Both will thank you later.
As is the case with many injuries, it may be sport- or exercise- specific. The bad news is that you’ll have to take some time off from your favorite activity while your injury heals, but the good news is that you can always try cross-training.
Cross-training involves choosing a different form of exercise that will help supplement the workouts that you want to do. For example, if you are a runner, and you develop plantar fasciitis, try swimming for a little bit while your foot heals up. It’s still a heavy cardiovascular exercise, and it will continue to work out the muscles in your entire body, but it will eliminate the impact on your injured foot.
Different sports work well with different forms of cross-training (if you suffer from a shoulder injury, for example, you may want to consider a stationary bike as your major form of exercise for a while), so do some research on what you can do without making your existing injury any worse.
Know Your Body
Knowing your body can be a help not only in quickly overcoming an injury, but also in preventing them all together. For example, if you know you have flat feet, you may be prone to foot injuries if you run. Learn how to take care of your feet properly, then, to avoid injury as best you can.
If you know you frequently suffer from specific muscle strains, take extra time at the gym each day to stretch out those muscles and treat yourself to massages in an effort to prevent injuries. If you can prevent an injury, you won’t have to worry about how quickly you want to overcome one, but injuries, unfortunately, happen to everyone.
The biggest trick is to stay patient and figure out what you can do rather than dwell on what you can’t do. Stay positive through an injury and look toward the future with your diet and workout plans so you have something to work for as you rehabilitate from your injury.
Sarah Barnes is a freelance writer who often works with a social security disability lawyer to explain work benefits to injured people. She’s seen (and suffered from) her fair share of injuries and knows that staying positive throughout the process can truly help along the recovery process.