Last week I injured my heel. I have to yet to figure out how, but the pain manifested on my daily walk. Forced to cease walking for almost a week, I had plenty of time to contemplate injury management in general and how difficult it can be to accept an injury and support your body in recovering.
As a trainer I am well-versed in how to advise clients on managing an injury. But it can be so frustrating to deal with, that it’s difficult to remember that some (or all) aspects of the exercise program will have to shift until the injury is healed. I’m a trainer, but I am also an avid exerciser, and giving up my daily walk is not something I particularly wanted to do. (Nor did I until I was forced to—I do not recommend trying to work through that sort of pain!)
Here are five tips on managing an injury (please do not use this as a substitute for medical advice):
1. Rest immediately. As soon as you become aware that you are injured, stop doing the activity that aggravates it. Just stop. Your body has to have a chance to heal without continually re-stressing the injured area. The time it will take to heal varies depending on the injury, but at a minimum four to seven days of rest is a good place to start.
2. Assess the injury. You might need to visit a doctor if it’s very painful or does not heal after taking time off. Please do not hesitate to seek medical advice.
3. RICE is the standard place to start with self-treating your soft-tissue injury and is intended to reduce inflammation in and around an injury and support the body in healing. Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. Some or all of these treatments may be appropriate, depending on your injury. Again, medical advice may be necessary.
4. Relax! Your injury will heal. You will exercise again. You will be back to full health doing everything you love to do. It really will happen, trust me.
5. Alter your workout. Depending on your injury, it’s completely possible to still work out. For example, if you have a shoulder issue, you can still do cardio/work legs. If you have an ankle issue, you can still lift weights or possibly bicycle for cardio. If you need help, consult a qualified trainer who can help you adapt your workout.
The most it important thing to keep in mind that the sooner an injury heals, the sooner you can resume working out normally.
Pritam Potts, owner of Advanced Athlete LLC, is a NSCA-certified trainer and strength coach with 12+ years of experience working with athletes and clients of all ages. Her specialty is in functional strength applications, developing core and overall strength and coordination specifically for the purpose of enhancing the body’s ability to function optimally and safely in athletic movement. Connect online at www.facebook.com/mrsathlete and www.twitter.com/mrsathlete.