For a Free Athlete, the pain of sitting out on a workout is worse than the pain of an injury itself. No one wants to stop training, but everyone wants to recover as fast as possible. 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.
Will you lose your muscles if you don’t train?
Don’t panic.The first thing you should know is that muscle memory is a real thing and once you return to training you’ll see for yourself. 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 round. 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:
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.
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 leg levers, lunges or squats? Or if it’s your leg, go for pullups or situps instead. Every little bit helps. Just be cautious and careful.
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, making it worse and not being able to train for even longer.
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?
Stick to a rapid recovery diet
Nutrition plays a huge part in the healing process. Use it right and it will be your secret weapon. It’s all about providing your body with an adequate amount of the right fuel for the power it needs to repair itself and get back on track. Want to find out what this is? Discover more about how nutrition can help heal your injury in our next injury article.
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 know’s: maybe it’s your bodies 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.