How to Keep up with Training When You Are Injured
When you practice a physical activity, sometimes you will get injured. In the sport of running, for example, one out of every three runners gets injured every year. What should you do when that happens? Should you take the risk of continuing to train at a slower pace? Should you stop completely?
Note: we are talking about muscle, tendon, ligament, bone or joint injuries; head traumas and concussions are not discussed in this article. These types of injuries should not be taken lightly and require immediate medical attention!
Can you train with an injury?
That depends on the severity of the injury. There are different types and degrees of injuries, but without going into too much detail, here are a few important distinctions:
- an injury that keeps you away from your activity for less than 3 days is mild
- an injury that requires you to stop your activity for 3 to 7 days is a moderate injury
- if you have to stop for more than 3 weeks, that is a severe injury
In general, there is a good chance that you will have to stop practicing your physical activity for a time, which may be longer or shorter depending on the severity of your injury. However, it is possible to adjust your training routine to work on parts of the body that are not affected by the injury, even very soon after the injury. This is known as alternative training. For example, instead of running, you might do a low-impact activity like swimming or riding a bike. The effects of the training will often be similar to your preferred activity and allow you to remain active and to maintain your performance level. Muscle strengthening, core building or flexibility training can also be quickly added and continued.
Can I train other parts of my body?
In most cases, yes, except in the case of very severe injuries and head traumas in particular. As a general rule, physical inactivity is never advisable. Anything that does not cause pain or negatively affect the injury may be done.
Should I adjust my diet?
Since recovery from an injury is an anabolic process (the tissues must be rebuilt), good nutrition, in both quality and quantity, is very important. In fact, for best tissue regeneration, your metabolism should have a positive energy balance; your nutritional intake should therefore be slightly greater than your normal requirements. To regenerate, tissues also need materials, including protein, which provides the main building blocks.
Should I see a physical therapist if I want to continue my training?
That depends on the severity of your injury. If you have a moderate or severe injury, the answer is “yes.” A physical therapist will be able to guide you toward complete and timely healing while providing a framework for you to continue your training.
Injuries are an integral part of the life of an athlete. However, getting injured does not mean you need to completely stop your physical activity. On the contrary, there is sometimes a silver lining: your body, which is sometimes overworked, gets some rest. You may also take advantage of the opportunity to work on your weak points and sometimes you may even discover a new sport or a new passion.
Remember that the Health and Performance team at Hôpital de La Tour is always available to offer you advice and guidance so that you can stay active despite an injury.