How to Stay in Shape after an Injury

To someone that likes to exercise, a serious injury can be frustrating.

However it doesn’t have to be. You just have to modify your exercise program until you are healed and then you can resume your old program.

For example, if you are a runner and suffer a leg stress fracture, you won’t be able to put much weight on the affected area for a long time, so hard surface running is out. However, a good alternative is pool running.

When supported by a flotation belt, pool running has 12 times the resistance of regular running. Not only is it a good non-weight bearing no-impact exercise, it uses many of the same muscles used in regular running, so that when you can hard surface run again, your train-up time will be minimal.

Focus on Non-affected Areas

Another modification might be to not exercise the affected area at all, thus giving it the best opportunity to heal. Instead, beef up your exercise routine in other non-affected areas by either adding repetitions to existing exercises or adding in new ones.

This could be a good time to work on improving your strength and flexibility, of which a weakness in either might have caused your injury in the first place.

Yoga and stretching are two good ways to increase your flexibility. And by increasing your flexibility, you can increase your range of motion which can spur performance.

Working the injured area with light weights can help in the healing process. Just do it smart and follow the recommendations and limitations set by your doctor.

Listen to your body – it will tell you what you can and can’t do.

Eat Normally

Keep to your eating regimen while recovering from an injury. Not being able to do your regular training can be depressing and that can lead to eating things you shouldn’t have.

Stick to eating your “training foods”. Complex carbohydrates, proteins, good fats and fiber.

As far as good fats, focus eating foods high in Omega 3, like the cold water fishes salmon, herring, mackerel and halibut.

Also up your quantity of walnuts, flax seed and dark leafy green vegetables. All of these foods are anti-inflammatory and help the body heal itself more quickly.

And don’t cut back on drinking water.

Not only does it boost your metabolism, which helps burn more calories and prevent weight gain, it helps in healing the affected area by clearing toxins out of injured cells. It also keeps the fiber moving along in your digestive system.

Getting Fit Should Be a Long Term Goal

Keep in mind what your fitness goal is. Maybe it is losing a few of those winter pounds so you can look good at the beach.

That could be a great short-term goal, and definitely one you would want to attain, but what is your end-state fitness-wise in the long term and how are you going to get there?

Regardless of your goal, you need a path to the other end

An action plan that takes you from where you are now to your goal. Written down on paper and posted where you can see it.

Remember this when you are injured- goals have to be both realistic and attainable. Losing 50 pounds while your arm is in a cast is neither, however losing 5 pounds during the same time could be both.

Specific Goals

Also goals have to be specific if you expect to achieve success. A goal of losing weight isn’t specific enough; losing 50 pounds by Labor Day is better because it has a specified amount of weight to lose and an ending date.

However, losing 1 ½ pounds per week for a total of 50 pounds by Labor Day is better yet as it also includes a short-term goal along the way to keep you on track. And 1 ½ pounds per week is not as daunting as 50 pounds.

Short-term goals keep you focused; without them in our example, you could find yourself needing to lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time towards the end to reach goal.

Also, achieving several short term goals along the way provides the motivation to continue. Each week’s 1 ½ pound loss is a building block for the next week. The time and commitment invested to reach each week’s goal, further seats your investment of time and energy to achieving the end-state.

And achieving a short-term goal of a 1 ½ pound loss each week sets you up for the longer goal of keeping that weight off. For example, it takes about 30 days to establish a habit (or break an old one).

Healthy Lifestyle

If your method to weight loss was eating healthy, by the time you get to goal your new style of eating is an established part of your new healthy lifestyle. Once it becomes a habit, it is much harder to break and go back to your old way of eating.

And that is the real benefit of the long-term goal of getting fit – it becoming part of a larger goal of achieving a healthy lifestyle. Once you attain this goal, your next one for example may be running a 5K. Each long term goal supports the overall goal – living a healthy lifestyle.

The bottom line is an injury should not derail your fitness program. Adjust both your eating and exercise routines as necessary and keep going. You’ll feel better both physically and mentally.

Photo: durrah03