Unfortunately injuries can occur. So what should you do when this happens? Risk it and train lighter? Or sit it out completely?
In our 2-part injury special we highlight a few steps you can take when it comes to training and nutrition that will make your healing process as speedy and painless as possible. Here are our top tips to maintaining muscle and staying fit even when you’re suffering from an injury.
To be on the safe side, always speak to your doctor if it concerns a serious injury. The answer always depends on the specific physical conditions and type of injury.
By no means ignore your injury
No one enjoys being injured. No one wants to sit on the sidelines and watch. Especially when you’re so close to achieving a goal you worked so hard on for so long. But what’s even worse than this is ignoring your injury, potentially making it worse and not being able to train for even longer.
The first thing you should do is have your injury checked by your physician. Don’t just hope the pain will go away. If you feel an injury coming on, cut back on training or stop altogether. The sooner the damage control starts, the sooner you can get back to work. A minor injury for 1 or 2 weeks is far better than a major one for 1 or 2 months. Don’t you agree?
Will you lose your muscles if you don’t train?
Studies have shown that you can still gain as much muscle by taking a break from time to time, compared to constantly training every single week. Actually, taking a break away from training is rather a good thing: It’s during recovery from training that your body adapts and gets fitter. Sure, a muscle building stimulus is still necessary in order to grow bigger, but you probably don’t need to train as often as you think.
In addition, you have probably heard about muscle memory. Muscles don’t forget everything they’ve learned. It’s all very scientific, but in a simplified version: incredibly, your muscles have some kind of memory of their previous state. Although they might become smaller, if you’ve trained them before, they will regain strength and size much quicker this time around. Keep that in mind. It’s important that you know a little time off isn’t going to make much difference. Your muscles will still be there, ready to get back to work when you are.
Should you train on an injury?
Probably best to hold back on doing a full Helios, Aphrodite or Bastet, but there are other forms of training you can do to maintain your progress and your muscles:
Train other parts of the body, lightly
If, and only if, you are not in an excruciating amount of pain and your doctor gives you the go ahead, try out some light exercises for other parts of the body. Just ensure they are in no way going to cause any pain or strain on the affected area. For example if it’s your shoulder or your upper body, why not try some Crunches, Lunges or Squats? Or why not start running? Or if it’s your leg, go for Pullups, Pushups or Situps instead. Every little bit helps. Just be cautious and careful. Here the rule of thumb is: try to keep doing as much as possible, as long as it does not hurt.
Don’t underestimate the power of stretching. A stretched muscle has a better metabolism, so can therefore absorb more nutrients (by this we mean protein of course) from the blood and regenerate quicker.
And it doesn’t stop there, stretching also helps us build muscle. It’s a relaxing way of ensuring your muscles stay supple and firm, even when they aren’t being trained.
But don’t wait until you’re injured before you start stretching regularly. By making this a consistent part of your warm up and cool down you can reduce the risk of injuries so you won’t end up in this mess in the first place.
Another thing you could do is start a mobility routine. Here as well, you should ideally not have to wait until you’re injured before you start mobilizing. However, your time off from training could be a good opportunity to start reaping the benefits of a mobility routine. Mobility will help you move more efficiently, as well as being pain-free in all ranges of motion. Try some of your mobility routines in the Explore tab.
Don’t lose heart! Recovery does happen with time.
The most important thing is that you don’t lose motivation. It’s tough, we know. It’s not fun thinking that others are training whilst you are lying on the couch. It’s frustrating when you look in the mirror and imagine how much progress you could have made if you had trained this week. But it is not the end. Who knows: maybe it’s your body's way of showing you that you need a break. Pay attention to the warning signals. Take it easy. Take a break. Eat clean and stretch your way to recovery.
Your setback is the platform for your comeback. Take your time and make it monumental.