If you move, sadly at some point you will get injured. Whether you are a competitive athlete or someone who exercises just to stay fit, injury will surely interrupt your routine at some point. If you are a newbie a sudden injury may make you want to throw in the towel. And if you are a fitness fanatic, an injury can cause a lot of stress. Exercise can be addictive and when you miss your fix you start to feel irritable and frustrated.

When you get injured it is vital to know what to do and how to maintain fitness while you’re out of action.

The good news is there is no reason why you have to stop exercise completely; you can still exercise while recovering, maintain your fitness levels and enhance healing at the same time. It is, of course, essential that whatever mode of exercise you choose is pain free.

The key to a fit, safe and active rehabilitation period is cross training.

This simply means adapting your workout so that you use different muscles than those that are injured. Even if one body part or joint is immobilised, there’s usually no reason why you can’t use others while recovering (I highly recommend getting clearance from your physiotherapist, I’ll talk about this more later). I once injured my ankle so could no longer run but I was able to spin. I had to be careful of course but the most important thing for me was I was still able to be active. I hurt my lower back recently doing Yoga, it was a slight injury so I was able to continue with my Yoga practice but I avoided certain poses.

Cross training is not only great for injury but also because; Ø

  • It reduces boredom – beat the Groundhog Day with a new workout.
  • You gain a higher level of overall fitness because you are conditioning more areas of your body.
  • It improves a variety of skills such as agility and balance which are useful in everyday life and not just in the gym.
  • It reduces your risk of injury – you’re not overusing muscles.
  • It allows you to actively recover.
  • Cross training will allow you to train while injured so you won’t turn into a crazed maniac!

Start at the start

Before you embark on any form of cross training while injured you need to REST! This can be all the treatment you need, so suck it up people! Rest for 24-48 hours and if the pain persists then it’s time to go to a professional for help. When I get a twinge I head to my wonderful physiotherapist Elaine http://kerinphysio.ie/ who always fixes me. I have been very lucky with injuries and I think this is the reason. I nip it in the bud, get treatment and follow her advice on rehabilitation. This is why it is really important to know your body well and understand the difference between pain and discomfort. You must know when to push and when to rest. Exercise can bring discomfort and this is ok. Getting past this will give you a stronger, fitter body and mind. You could call it “going beyond your comfort zone”. I highly recommend it!

Once you know what you are dealing with and your tears have run dry, it’s time to pull on those positive pants. It’s not the easiest thing to do I know – it usually takes me a day or two – but it will make the horrid experience a little easier to cope with. Plus the people around you will like you more and you’ll get more sympathy which, let’s face it, is what we all need when we’re injured.

Being injured forces you out of your comfort zone. It can be scary, but it if you look at it another way, it can in fact be a good thing.

Many of us have the same exercise routine and rarely sway from this. We go to the gym at the same time for the same duration and more than likely we train the same muscles. When you do the same thing day in, day out, you are conditioning the same area of your body. After a while of doing the same movements over and over, your body becomes extremely efficient at those particular movements. But it limits your overall fitness. Eventually you may stop seeing any improvement in your fitness levels, shape and/or ability…So change it up!

Whether you got your injury from running or yoga, it is always good to try new forms of exercise. People generally don’t like change. Try it, you are sure to benefit from great gains by using muscles that may have been resting all this time. You’ll be surprised at how you can still work out and feel the burn while injured.

Cross training or changing your training up is also so good for you as it varies the areas of your body that you place stress on. This can reduce the risk of injury from repetitive strain or overuse.

The most important thing to remember when you are injured is that time heals so please give yourself enough time to fully recover. If you try to come back from an injury too quickly you risk developing a secondary injury trying to make up for lost time or by compensating for the injured area by overusing other muscles.

Be patient, be kind and you will be back to yourself, a stronger self in no time. And whether you like it or not it is all part of the wonderful journey we are on!