We have all had injuries that have interfered with our daily activities and exercise routines. No matter how major or minor, the approach to management and future prevention is the same. Here are the five steps to getting back on track:
- Define the problem. Is this muscle soreness or a minor strain? Does it require immediate action (for example, icing or bracing)?
- Accommodate. Sometimes resting that body part or taking a few days off from significant physical activity is all it takes. Underestimating this need often costs more in the long run.
- Seek advice. Of course, all serious injuries require medical attention. In addition, personal trainers, physical therapists, and fellow athletes can be great sources of guidance.
- Slowly transition to full recovery. Even after major surgery, I recommend a light exercise routine, often as early as one week. A focus on flexibility and light cardio exercise will allow a gradual and safe return to the normal you. Active recovery is much safer than a period of minimal activity followed by an abrupt return of activity.
- Identify the cause of injury. Understanding what went wrong is the key to future prevention. Do you have an imbalance of the three components of fitness – strength, cardiovascular, and flexibility? Were you using improper technique? Was that activity too risky for your abilities?
Maintaining some level of fitness while recovering from injury is a homerun. Avoiding another setback during this injury-prone time is a grand slam.