If you are active, you probably get periodic injuries, most of us do. I am not talking about sore muscles after a good workout, but pain or discomfort from a tear or strain that stays with you for weeks. How you react to these injuries can have a huge impact on your overall fitness.
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Conventional wisdom says to rest and rest is important for staying strong. Your body is good at telling you when you need to rest. Soreness that goes away in a few days comes from tiny muscle tears that occur during exericise and this is normal. Staying active and lightly exercising that area will stimulate blood flow, remove toxins from the sore area and accelerate the healing process.
More sharp pain that lingers is your body telling you to take a break and it is usually good to listen.
But don’t stop being active.
I once had a pretty painful lower back pull. I was reaching for something under my desk at the office and rip (…embarassed to admit it wasn’t a more glamorous injury). It was real sore so all common sense said to hit the couch and stay there for a few weeks. When I noticed it wasn’t healing, I went to a physiotherapist (actually went to chiro first, but that’s another story). They showed me how to engage in safe stretching and absolutely wanted me to stay active to maximize blood flor for healing. They advised sports that didn’t disrupt the healing process such as swimming and yoga. The results were almost immediate and I was back at full speed within a few weeks.
Over the years I have had dozens or perhaps hundreds of sports injuries. I pretty much have at least one at any point in time, but I never stop exercising. I just avoid the exercises that aggravate the my injured body part.
One time I recall going to the gym for leg exercises with a cast on my wrist after having surgery to repair a hockey injury (actually I also went rollerblading and used the cast as a stopper when I wiped out, but I was young and dopey and would advise no one do this).
There are lots of ways you can stay active. If you have a sprained ankle, you can go to the pool or ride the bike.
Tennis elbow? Go for a run. Sore knee? Light yoga. Sore neck? High rep leg machines at the gym which gets your heart rate up with your neck immobilized. This will keep your heart strong and when your injury finally heals it won’t feel like you have lost all your fitness and are starting over.
Find ways to stay active through your injuries and you will always keep yor fitness level high.