A few weeks of rest might seem like the perfect remedy for an injury, and while this may be true for some, personal trainer and fitness instructor Gisel Harrow said that exercise can actually accelerate the healing process for some injuries and aid the body's recovery.
“While some injuries may require a period of complete rest or avoidance of the inciting activity, many injuries can be actively managed with appropriate modifications to your regular fitness programme. The latter is important because when you stop exercising completely you risk inhibiting blood flow to the injured area, reducing the speed of tissue repair and reducing muscle, strength and mobility,” Harrow said.
She pointed out that some of the common injuries that are improved with exercise being a part of the treatment plan include muscle sprain or strain, knee injury, shoulder injury, back injury, broken or dislocated injuries, sprained ankle and sore hip.
Some modifications to regular exercise during the injury that you may want to consider include:
Warm up and cool down
This is the first and last thing that you want to do when exercising. You must get the body prepared for exercise by loosening muscles and encouraging gradual as opposed to rapid increase of heart rate. Some ways to achieve this include jogging, riding or even walking. The cool down, on the other hand, will bring your heart rate back to normal. Stretches and slow walking can achieve this.
Train your body
One important modification that you should consider is training the rest of your body, even while the central focus should be the area you injured. “So, for example, if the injured area is in the lower body which limits rigorous movement in that area, you can choose exercises that target your core and upper body. Also, any exercise that you will do now you want to make sure that your movement pattern aligns from head to toe since this will help to build balanced strength everywhere,” Harrow encouraged.
She explained that this would mean a good platform for the care and treatment of the actual injured area. As an added bonus, she said that training your entire body will result in support of the injured area.
For specific problems, Harrow recommends taking the steps below.
“High box squat is great for those experiencing an injury to their hips, or if the hips are feeling stiff and sore,” Harrow said. She explained that by decreasing the range of hip flexion, the high box squat will be less aggravating on the hip joint and once the pain lessens or the injury is feeling better, it's back to full-range squats.
“Floor press is a great alternative to the traditional bench press for those with sore shoulders. With a decreased range of motion there will be less stress on the shoulder capsule as well,” Harrow advised. The floor press, Harrow said, is also a great exercise to help bust through that sticking point.
“Sore knees require a refocus from knee-dominant movements such as squats and lunges to more hip dominant movements like deadlifts (and variations), back extensions and good mornings,” Harrow instructed. She explained that the more vertical shin angle during these exercises means less knee flexion. In addition, more hip flexion allows different aspects of the lower body to be trained when knees aren't being friendly.
Other general guidelines that you should follow whenever you are exercising with an injury include making smaller movements, staying in a pain-free range, starting by using little to no resistance, doing fewer repetitions, and of course modifying your workout so that it is less taxing on your body.
“Exercise is important, but until you are fully healed don't do the activity that triggered the injury or that will put a strain on the area. Also, remember that injuries can be prevented if you are careful in performing the workout; this includes always warming up and cooling down, use of the appropriate gears, and always following safety instructions when training,” Harrow advised.