Getting Back into Exercise After Injury

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Being injured is an athletes worst nightmare – not being able to do the sport that you love is completely frustrating. And I should know.

I’ve had a shoulder injury which has seen my training scaled back ever since my last competition back in Feb and it’s been far from easy. I can’t even tell you where it all started as it wasn’t brought on by a single event but by months of repetitive strain, and a lot of training through the pain (mistake number one!). It wasn’t until I was in a small car crash back in January which jolted my neck and upper back adding insult to injury that I started taking the pain seriously.

And it wasn’t just the pain that I struggled with throughout my injury, it was the psychological aspects of not being able to train when all around me were getting fitter. I’ve always been one of those Crossfitters that regularly compared themselves to others in the gym and being injured just heightened my anxiety. Whilst others were pushing hard and continuously improving, I was alone in a quiet corner of the gym either rolling about on a lacrosse ball, pulling a band apart or squatting for the umpteenth time that week.

Like most other Crossfitters I love the community side of Crossfit – training as an individual but with a team of friends around is a great source of motivation for me – so having to provide my own motivation was a struggle and for a big chunk of my injury I’d completely fallen out of love with training. My gym visits became less frequent and my mood dropped considerably.

But even though I didn’t have the best start to my recovery, my stubborn personality and ‘I’m no quitter’ attitude managed to guide me through and I’m now on the road to recovery. I’ve learnt a lot about my body from how it feels to how to improve performance, and MOST importantly, when to take a step back from training.

So what can you do to come back from injury better and stronger, and just how do you stay motivated?

Go Slow

You may have fully healed but you still need to build up your strength again, especially around the area of injury. So start with light weights and low reps building up when, and ONLY when you are ready. 

And if you feel any pain then don’t be afraid to drop the weights again – leave your ego in the changing rooms!

Regular Rehab

Just because you feel fit and well again doesn’t mean you are 100% recovered. It’s even possible you could get injured again if you don’t look after yourself properly, meaning stretching and mobility work must become a priority. 

Footballers are often guilty of this – wanting desperately to get back on the pitch after a pulled hamstring that they end up pulling something else.

So make sure you’re continuing to follow your rehab plan and going back for regular sessions as and when your physio/doctor sees fit. 

Don’t Neglect your Nutrition

Sticking to your plan or at least continuing to eat healthy will make it easier to get back to your pre-injury fitness. And if you’re not training as much or as hard at first then you might even need to look at reducing your daily food intake. But make sure to continue to include fats, carbs and protein at every meal, as well as plenty of micronutrients to help aid your recovery. 

You’re also more likely to feel upbeat and motivated throughout your recovery period If you’re still looking after your body and looking good, inside and out.

Know the Difference Between Soreness and Pain

You should know your body better than anyone else. You know how it functions on a daily basis and you should know how it feels after a typical training session. 

You’ve most probably had DOM’s (delayed onset muscle soreness) before so should know the difference between this and actual pain. If you experience any pain throughout your recovery, or even DOM’s that last for more than a few days, then stop. Seek advice from your doctor or physio. And dial it back again.

Try Something New

This is the perfect time to try out something new. Yoga is a great all rounder and can help to realign your body and improve overall strength. Just make sure your yoga instructor is aware of your injury and if you experience any pain just sit out of that pose.

Practicing Yoga will also help to focus your mind – it’s the perfect way to end a tough week in and out of the gym and will help you to feel present and motivated even with an injury.

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As for me, I’m now on the mend and getting ready for my next competition. And although I’m not expecting to win I’m looking forward to seeing where I’m at physically & mentally, and I just want to enjoy competing in the sport I love. After all, if we’re not enjoying it anymore than what is the point?

Remember, I’m not a trained healthcare professional so please always consult your doctor if you’re experiencing any pain and think you might be injured. However, If you are injured/on the road to recovery and want a friendly chat then please feel free to comment below, email or tweet me and we can help motivate each other back to full health!

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2 Comments

  1. August 8, 2016 / 10:39 am

    Great post Ali! I know the feeling all too well – I had a stress fracture last year and had to sit out of CrossFit for a while and it was tough watching people train while I had to modify everything. Glad you’re back training again now though. What competition are you doing? Will you and your box be at Tribal the weekend after next?

    • August 8, 2016 / 11:04 am

      Thanks lovely! It’s so frustrating isn’t it – I’ve been set back by 6 months but I’m determined to come back stronger than ever!

      I won’t be at Tribal Clash no – are you doing it? I would love to do it next year. I’m just doing Rainhill again on 20th in Manchester to get me back into things.

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