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5 Ways to Stay Fit if You're Nursing an Injury

Losing your mind laying about? Easy does it.

Being laid up is every warrior’s worst nightmare. All it takes is one misstep - one bad grip, one weight too heavy or one rep too many - to trip you up and cost you days, weeks, or even months on hiatus. We know, it sucks.

However, the sooner you accept your predicament and adopt the right perspective, the sooner you can make peace with your fate and make the most of it. You might even find the recovery process to be character-building and cathartic.

Keep these 5 tips in mind to stay fit, healthy, and sane while you’re nursing an injury:


#5:
KEEP IT LOW IMPACT

Do what you can to stay active, healthy, and strong.

When you have an injury holding you back, the best thing you can do is adapt. Resist the urge to call it quits completely, even if your capability only allows for exercise that is much lighter and easier than your usual workout regimen.

Remember, anything is better than nothing when it comes to your fitness. Think low-impact exercises that work on range of motion and basic movement integrity work, such as gentle yoga and water aerobics. Focusing on stretching and flexibility is invaluable for your recovery process: By keeping your body moving, you'll speed up your wound healing process, as improved blood flow causes blood vessels to open at the injury site. This not only brings oxygen and nutrients to the wound that are essential for healing, but helps carry the muscle's waste back to the kidneys to be expelled from the body.

PRO TIP: If you're nursing a muscle strain or sprain, it's best to avoid stretching in that area until it's completely healed, unless you're under the supervision of a physical therapist. Let your body be your guide with adaptations of exercises and stretches that allow you to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your injured area.


#4:
mix up your movement

Cross-train to keep things limber.

Although hitting the weight room is likely not the best idea, incorporating some cross-training certainly is. Now, before you jump into a session with the battle ropes and tractor tires, cross-training in this instance simply refers to different types of exercise. We're talking about trying out some different methods that add variety to your fitness regime, whilst also nurturing your injury. 

Not only does careful cross-training allow you to continue staying fit and strong while recovering from your injury, but it also allows for flexibility in your training schedule and produces a higher level of all-around fitness once you're back on your feet. You can alter an activity you already enjoy to cater to your physical limitations, or try something completely new like stationary bike cycling, resistance bands or pool workouts. 


#3:
enlist the experts

Nobody gets a trophy for toughing it out.

Trust me, there's no brownie points for being a tough guy when you're sidelined. Fitness is obviously important to you, so be sure to think like a pro athlete and get it checked out ASAP if there's something slowing you down, no matter how minor. By checking in with a doctor or physical therapist early after your injury occurs, you'll not only prevent further damage by exercising incorrectly, but you could also unlock some strategies to accelerate your healing. 

A medical professional will give you advice on what your recovery timeline looks like, plus what sort of exercises you can safely do in the meantime to help your recovery along and stay fit in the process. We highly recommend getting a referral to a physical therapist who can help rehabilitate your injury with tailored and assisted exercises.


#2:
don't neglect your mental health

Sitting on the bench is tough. Keep your head in check while you're there.

It should be no secret by now that mental health is equally as important as physical health, and that the two are super intertwined with each other (even more so than we’ve previously believed).

We know... Working out is our favorite form of therapy, too. But there are tons of other outlets you can turn to put your mind at ease and stay sharp. Walking, cycling, learning a new skill, exploring new places, and picking up new hobbies are all excellent ways to stay sane and at peace throughout your recovery process.


#1:
get your nutrition in order

It goes beyond an apple a day when you're recovering.

Of course, you should always be mindful of what you’re putting into your body. However, eating well is especially important to stay healthy and speed up your recovery while you’re laid up and more sedentary than usual. Take advantage of the time you’re down and out to really hone in on your nutrition and eating habits. Experiment with new foods and try making new recipes to keep it interesting - you might even uncover an inner foodie you never knew was there.

Don't forget to check out our guide featuring 5 recommended foods that speed up muscle repair: Recovery Nutrition: What You Should Eat to Help Sore Muscles

All in all… Take it easy on yourself.

It can be easy to fall into a negative cycle of feeling frustrated and eager to get back out there, pushing yourself too hard and setting yourself back, then becoming even more frustrated with yourself.

Take a deep breath, remember you’re not being lazy, and know that giving your body the rest and recovery time it needs is crucial. Not only will your body thank you, but you’ll be more equipped to make the transition when you’re recovered and ready to jump back in the game.

Maggie Johnson | MME Lifestyle Contributor

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