Take risks: If you win, you’ll be happy, if you lose, you’ll be wise.
I saw that quote – not sure where – and it reminded me that in everything we do, there are risks.
Doing exercise, working out or whatever else you want to call it, poses some risk for anyone involved.
The win – you improve your health and overall well being. Yay!
The loss – you can get injured. Bummer!
Injuries in general can happen to anyone at any time.
Even though you know there’s a risk, you don’t really think it can happen to you.
Not when you are strengthening muscles and bones, or taking as many precautions as you’ve been warned to take.
At most, you anticipate the occasional muscle soreness, cramp and possibly a side stitch here or there.
What you don’t expect is to throw your back out from trying to get up after crawling down on the ground.
You don’t expect to be writhing in pain the day after rocking out all night at a Gospel concert.
Nor do you suddenly expect to not be able to take your shirt off because you can’t lift your arm above your head.
And you certainly don’t expect to have to navigate sitting down because of a sharp pain behind your knee.
But those things have happened. To us.
Three of The Most Common Injuries
A quick internet search revealed that while unfortunate, these issues were in fact among the most common exercise related injuries. The three we experienced specifically were back strain, knee pain, shoulder strain.
Noted as the number one injury most likely to occur, two of us experienced this within weeks of each other and it hurt like hell. Pain so bad you think your back is broken. The cause? A combination of lifting with the back instead of the legs, not having strong enough back muscles (including core) to support an activity and going from 0 to 60 a little too fast.
While not a new occurrence for the three of us who experienced it, knee pains re-emerged after a period of gradual increases in exercise intensity. In some cases it was easy enough to ignore (we don’t recommend you do this) or work around by avoiding an exercise of using an alternative. The pain however only subsided instead of disappearing. The likely suspect? Instability and/or weakness in areas of the butt, hips, thigh muscles, caves or ankles.
With two of us suffering from severe shoulder pain through a variety of movements – both weight bearing and non-weight bearing, it was clear that this was no simple injury. A point emphasized when daily activities like sleeping, showering and raising an arm overhead became challenging. Why? We’re still not sure except we suspected that dysfunction and or instability was at play.
How to Improve & Minimize Them
So how did we get past these injuries?
We didn’t. At least not completely.
With complete rest, some issues (like the back strain) cleared up. But with others, we’re still working on improving and minimizing recurrence.
We share the ways in which we have been doing so below.
Disclaimer – the information provided below is not medical advice.
Find A Doctor and/or Physical Therapist
Working through pain does not make you a badass. It makes you a dumbass.
So too is avoiding an activity and hoping the pain goes away. It may do so with some rest, but chances are it will come back, particularly if underlying issues are unknown.
If it’s debilitating pain or pain that’s getting in the way of normal daily activities like sleeping, sitting or even eating, then it’s best to seek medical attention immediately. Visiting a doctor or a physical therapist (PT) is a great first step to finding out why you are in pain and possibly how to solve.
Try to avoid the self-diagnosis ok. Ye, we’re taking to you looking up your symptoms on Webmd.com. That’s no substitute for a real doctor.
Follow The Recommended Plan of Treatment
Now that you know the why and assuming there are no tears, broken bones or severe trauma, you should now be looking to execute the ‘how to get better plan’.
This requires following the advice from said professional as it relates to your rest, recovery and rehabilitation. Said advice should include a specific plan for addressing any weaknesses or imbalances found, if any, so you can get back to your fitness program. Such plans may require physical therapy sessions or you performing rehabilitation exercises on your own.
Tip: If your doctor or PT does not discuss a plan for recovery, or at least recommends someone who can do so, with you, please find another doctor.
Modify Rather Than Quit Exercise Completely
The way our bodies move makes it next to impossible to avoid using an injured body part.
Of course you should rest your injury, especially if swelling or severe pain is present. But once you’ve gotten the clear that nothing’s broken or will require surgery, you ought to keep moving instead of laying down waiting for it to get better.
In most cases, movement help speeds up recovery.
Don’t expect to be able to simply pick up where you left off though. Just aim to use lower impact and modified movements until you are healed enough to pick things up again.
Incorporate yoga poses and gentle stretches to get the body moving or warmed up.
Opt to swim instead of run or ride, for a full body workout alternative that won’t stress the knees.
Use the PT recommended exercises as part of your warm up pr workout.
Ease Back Into Your Program Slowly
If you’re once again pain free or was at least given permission to go full steam ahead, slow your roll. We mean that literally.
We know you have places to go and things to do, but in this you don’t want to rush.
So be sure to warm up properly and slowly before diving into the meat of your workout. Gradually increase your weight, duration and/or intensity. Whilst doing so, try to keep that good form and alignment.
Your aim here is to not re-injure yourself or worse pick up a new one. So take your time, you will get where you need to go.
Give Your Body Some TLC…Regularly
Understand that regular exercise puts additional stress on the body.
It means then that we have to manage that stress to prevent – you guessed it – further injury or worse a total body collapse.
A few ways to do that include:
- Taking complete rest days. Whether it be every 3 days or other day, a day off from exercise stress will do your body good.
- Get more sleep. Sleep is the body’s recharging station. It re-energizes your body, improves your moods and brain function.
- Up Your Nourishment. A well fueled body is a strong body. So be sure to include plenty of leafy greens, lean proteins, sensible carbs, healthy fats and water to give your body the nourishment it needs to repair and recover.
- Soak. Whether you throw some bubble bath in or epsom salt, a good soak in your tub is a great way to decompress.
Get a massage. Deep tissue or Thai, it really doesn’t matter when the aim is to get rid of some of those kinks and knots that have developed in your muscle tissue.