Chances are, when you’re in pursuit of a fitness goal, it’s going to be extremely challenging to completely avoid injury.
Now, when I say injury it doesn’t mean a multiple month-long rehab process; it can be just your general aches, pains, or overuse of an area of the body. So, perhaps it’s not always an injury in the big, grand sense of the word but there are definitely things that can press pause on our fitness goals.
There are always going to be setbacks. It’s inevitable. But when we can plan ahead and think about these potential obstacles before they happen, it’s easier to tackle them head on and without delay.
Let’s talk about four ways that you can overcome these setbacks or injury when they do happen.
Control what you can control.
The hardest thing about any injury, in my opinion, is the loss of control. We feel like things slip out of our grasp. We’re forced to bend to how our body feels and the advice of our team (physical therapist, chiropractor, coach, etc.). This is often at the expense of our personal desires and plans.
This is challenging.
We don’t have a choice. Well, I guess we do, but if we don’t listen to our body it can often be at the expense of recovery and long-term progress. So, gone is the choice.
But there are things under your control. The problem is they aren’t the things we want to be in our control. But when we take a step back, we can take inventory of the things we DO have in our control.
Do you have homework or specific exercises that you have to do? Make sure you’re executing them as well as possible.
Do you have guidance to rest? Freaking rest! I know we can hate the sound of this, but think about it. You likely have a doctor’s permission to just take time off and rest. What could you do with this time? Instead of sitting around and sulking about your injury, what can you do with it? Is there a house project that’s been on the list or a new passion project you wanted to start? For me, I always take time off to try a new recipe in the kitchen or pre-prep some food to set my future self up for success.
Take this time off as a gift. What can you do with it? This brings me to my next point…
Focus on what you can do.
If you have a broken arm, can you still do lower body movements?
Often, we take injuries with an all-or-nothing mentality. Oh, I’m hurt so I have to take time off from the gym completely. But that’s not always the case!
While our treatment team might not give guidance right away, step up and ask. See what you can do with your injury present. This is why it can be helpful to have a coach in your corner. They can work with your treatment team to see how you can keep moving during this time.
Movement truly is medicine.
Really – Even if we don’t move the specific injured spot. Let’s say you’re in a cast on the right wrist. There’s research to show that when we train the left arm, we actually increase the healing on the right side. Or, and usually people don’t even think about it, but if you’re completely immobilized, there are different attachments we can use to have you still “use” your right arm without need for heavy gripping and use of the wrist.
The bottom line, we should focus on what we can do while we’re injured. As with nutrition, if we can focus on adding things to our diet instead of taking them away, it can make dieting and fat loss more enjoyable.
Focusing on adding movement in ways we can move can make the recovery process more enjoyable (and perhaps a little faster)!
Explore new movement opportunities.
One of the additions could be a new movement opportunity!
When we shut down in March of 2020 due to coronavirus, much of the people across the country lost access to their gym. As this was realized, prices of home gym equipment skyrocketed and sold out across numerous outlets.
So, no gym and no full home set up, what did we do?
We got creative! We found new ways to move and explore and train. We used what we had – a handful of weights, loaded backpacks, gallon jugs of water, etc. and moved!
This same opportunity is present when we have an injury.
If our normal activities are put on pause, what can we do? What new ways can we explore movement with what we already have?
This doesn’t have to require a big investment.
Say for example that you have to avoid impact and you typically run 3-4 times per week. Running is thousands of pounds of impact over countless steps and miles covered. It’s estimated that three times your bodyweight comes down as you take each step. With an average of slightly below 2,000 steps per mile, that weight adds up fast!
So, instead of not doing anything, let’s think about all of the ways we can move with less impact! Biking, hiking, walking, paddling (if you have access to a kayak, canoe, or paddleboard), or some traditional gym cardio pieces like a stair stepper or elliptical all allow for movement with less impact than running!
That doesn’t even count the strength training and cardiovascular training benefits that we can get from things like complexes, circuits, or other movement opportunities.
Just as we can focus on the things we can do, we can take injury or setback as a way to try something new and explore a new movement opportunity.
Finally, we’re at the most challenging of them all. Unfortunately, we have not yet found a way to speed up time and patience when recovering from an injury is paramount.
We just have to be patient.
Of course, as we do the previous three things, we can speed up the healing process by making sure we are moving as we’re able to, fueling our body with nutrient-dense foods, drinking enough water, and supplementing as needed.
But none of these things will turn the clocks forward. We just have to be patient.
There you have it – four ways that you can work to overcome setbacks and injuries. Because, at the end of the day, they’re bound to happen. But we CAN take time to think ahead and plan for them.
This week, I want you to think about a time that you’ve been injured or experienced another setback in your fitness journey. What did you do? How did you handle it? How did that work for you? Could you have done it differently?
Take notes and think about how this information can help you in the future. While we don’t want to manifest an injury, being prepared for when it does happen can help us to overcome the setback.