Generally, I see two types of people. Those who are less than reluctant to move and those who are always training. Obviously, there are a few unicorns who find the balance, but the extremists seem to make up the majority. With this type of mentality, it can become difficult to know if you should be training with an injury. I am very rarely an advocate of complete rest, so perhaps the question really is, what should I do? Not what I can do because that is not always the most advisable choice. To start off with, I would assess the severity and nature of the injury
- How recently has it occurred?
- Is there anything broken or torn?
- How much impact does it have on my daily function? Do you have to comp[roise how you move or sit?
- Is my sleep being affected?
- Do I need to take pain medication to cope with day-to-day tasks?
- Is it something I’ve suffered with before or an acute new injury?
These are important factors to consider. Anything that’s torn or broken really should not be put under any stress until it has started to knit back together. The progression of this should be managed by someone who is trained in this area. However, a broken arm doesn’t mean you can’t do any training at all. It just means you need to be sensible about it. For example, with a broken arm, I would avoid anything high impact or with a high risk of falling. Needless to say, anything needing your arm to support you would also be out of the question, but something like an indoor bike or walking on a treadmill could be an option. In another scenario, if you are in so much pain that you’re barely sleeping, battling to walk or drive, and needing to take pain medication every 4 hours. Going to the gym is really going to be counterproductive at this stage.
Once you’ve determined the parameters of your training, it’s a case of being very honest about the situation. Some key pointers to look at
Is there a chance of making this injury worse
What are my goals for the session, and will I achieve those with my current state of health? If not, how can I adjust my preconceived ideas so that I still feel satisfied with the outcome?
Will I have to compromise on form or stability to achieve the required outcome – if yes, you need to review your choice.
Another critical point to remember when trying to train with an injury is the recovery you need and the fatigue your body will feel. Even if you are not directly training the injured area, your body is still constantly working to heal the damaged area. This needs to happen and be considered when you are structuring your training. It’s not unusual to feel flat and tired when injured -even if your training load has decreased. Your miraculous body is working behind the scenes to repair and realign the damage.
Obviously, this topic is very broad and should be very individualized. I always recommend having professional guidance in this, but as a few basic points to consider :
Make sure you are not loading an area that is not ready for load
Don’t be afraid to scale back on weight or reps
Ask for help if you are not sure. Trainers and coaches should be able to make adjustments for you easily.
Have a plan – don’t just show up at a class and see how you go. Know what you should and should not be doing, as well as some alternatives, so that you can be prepared.
Use the time to work on areas you usually neglect or don’t do enough of. It’s a golden opportunity to work on some weaknesses.
And most importantly
A few days off WILL not impact your fitness severely, but it could significantly prolong your injury.