One week ago while training on trampoline, I rolled my ankle pretty bad. Aside from the fact that almost every time I injure myself it is on a trampoline and I REALLY want to be good on trampoline, the physical pain hurt a little more than the emotional pain. So, I had to take a few days off of training.
After one week, the pain is still there, not as severe, and the swelling has gone down considerably. I’m not ready to get back to training full on yet because I don’t want to risk re-aggravating it, but I can’t let my body simply atrophy in this time off. A lot of professionals I know ALWAYS have to deal with injuries and how to maintain a level of physical conditioning during the down time. Here are a few tips on how to work through injuries and come out on top!
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
You’re already injured, no need to kick yourself while you are down. Your injury happened and it will take some time to heal, nothing can change that, it is in the past, now it is time to focus on the present.
For my injury, R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, elevate) was the prescription. I am dedicating myself to this treatment at least twice a day. I’m not punishing myself or trying to fight through the pain. I’m taking care of myself and trying to heal as quickly as possible. For your injury, take to heart the advise or prescription for your injury and dedicate yourself to healing as much as you would to training as if you weren’t injured.
Start Up Slow
Getting back into the swing of things can be frustrating given that you can’t operate at full capacity for a period of time. Take it slow and controlled. Recognize the difference between pushing yourself and testing your abilities. If you start back too soon, you risk never letting the injury fully heal. If you start back too aggressively, you might risk re-injuring it thus prolonging the downtime. In order to get back to your old self, you need to adjust your workouts to include rehabilitation exercises as part of your daily routine.
Since we tend to have greater compensatory muscle reflex to higher weight exertions (eg. our neck tightens when we do leg lifts), recovery workouts should be done with lighter weights to reduce over-compensation. Lighter weights build strength and greater muscle control and are often overlooked during regular workouts. During recovery, muscle isolation exercises are essential to targeting injured areas and to rebuild weak areas that led to the injury in the first place. Lighter weight/resistance will help isolate muscles and reduce the compensatory muscles from firing. If you end up doing physical therapy, ask your therapist or trainer about proper form in doing exercises. Often, injuries result from bad form and too much weight. Your rehab time should be preventative for future injuries.
Lemonade is Served
I’ve talked with a lot of circus performers and acrobats and one thing that is always a part of recovery is working on what you are able to. A good friend of mine sprained his ankle and was out of tumbling acrobatics for several months. During his down time, he became a really good juggler.
Rarely do our workouts and time working out focus on the ENTIRE body. If we want better thighs then we hit the Elliptical or stair master for an hour, ignoring our core or upper back. if we sprain our ankle, then what? Well, we get the opportunity to focus on what we’ve been avoiding. Injuries are never setbacks, they are often opportunities to shift areas of focus.
When we get injured our bodies go into a protective posture. In the case of my ankle, I immediately noticed that my whole right side of my body started tightening up to protect that area of my body. As injuries heals, the body needs to release the protective measures to prevent imbalance. However, sometimes those protection habits kick in really strongly and have longer lasting effects than the original injury. Massage and deep tissue relief to the entire body is helpful to resetting the body’s natural disposition and non-compensatory muscle function. So prescribe yourself a little body pampering as you see the forest of injury starting to clear. Come out on top and come out stronger!!
NOTE: All the advice given in this article is given with the expectation that you consult with a physician about the best methods of recovery for your injury. YOU are responsible for your own health.