Working out with an injury — the ultimate guide.
Injuries suck. But, even despite your best efforts, if you have any intention of pushing yourself in the gym, they will happen.
Hopefully not often, but at some point in time one may occur — and really, nothing derails your progress quite like an injury.
Yes, it obviously makes exercising a whole lot harder, but depending on the injury, it can even make getting off the couch feel impossible.
When combined with a reduction in motivation, a loss of mobility, and the general sadness that comes with not being able to train, and you have a recipe for disaster.
But is this how it needs to be? Does an injury really need to destroy all your progress?
I would argue no…
Should I Exercise With An Injury?
Injury strikes, motivation wanes, and you feel like shit — what’s next?
Well, in my personal opinion, stopping exercise is the worst thing you can do.
Like, the actual worst.
Lets face it. When it comes to making progress in the gym, there is one factor that is more important than anything else.
You show up, you do the work, and you build momentum. Over time, showing up gets easier. You get stronger, leaner, and more muscular — and you start to really enjoy this ‘gym’ thing.
It is about now where you really start making some progress.
Consequently, in the face of injury, you should keep training — even if it is just to keep consistency.
Which then begs the question…
How Should I Workout With An Injury?
There is no question that you should keep exercising if you have an injury — but you also need to acknowledge that your training regime will need to change for a short time.
And here’s how:
1. Avoid Exercises That Cause Pain
At first glance this may seem obvious, but coming from someone who kept deadlifting for twelve months despite it making my chronic back pain worse, I think it needs saying.
“Stop doing shit that hurts.”
In all seriousness, you should avoid exercises that aggravate your injury.
- This means squats and lunges might be off the menu if you have a knee injury
- A shoulder injury may mean pressing is out of the question for the time being
- Lastly, a lower back injury might mean you avoid squats and deadlifts for a few weeks
Adhering to this step really means leaving your ego at the door. It means being diligent with your rehab while other people are doing fun stuff in the gym. It means playing around with little booty bands instead of barbells.
In short, it means not being a dummy and doing anything stupid.
But, as negative as this may sound, I would argue that it could be viewed as a positive.
In fact, it should.
See, this gives you time to focus on exercises that you don’t normally do…
2. Smash Exercises That Feel Good
This rolls on from our last point.
Instead of cracking the sads about the exercises you can’t do, focus on those movements that don’t cause you pain.
Then train them hard, train them heavy, and train them often.
Use this as a chance to build strength in different movements. Use it to prioritize the growth of certain muscle groups and smash your weak spots.
Ideally you want to come back from an injury in better shape than when it occurred.
and of course, have fun with it.
Now is the time for knee extension drop sets and hamstring curls. Now is the time for a lot of dedicated arm work. And yes, now is the time to build that strong ‘core’ you have heard is so important.
3. Go Get Assessed
Now for the big one.
If your injury has been around for more than 48 hours and doesn’t seem to be getting any better, get checked out by a professional (physio would be my first point of call)
There is a good chance you would benefit from some hands on treatment or some specific rehabilitation exercises — both of which come from a detailed assessment with someone who knows what they are doing.
And no, don’t trust google — it will only make things worse.
Injuries are an unfortunate part of training. While we do our absolute best to minimise the risk of them occurring as much as possible they do happen.
However, they should not derail your progress.
By being smart you can keep training in the face of injury and come back better than ever.