YMCA of Greater Erie

Injuries are often unexpected, and dealing with an injury that derails your normal routine can be emotionally grueling!  After all, you’re being denied an activity that provided some measure of release or relaxation, while also worrying that your fitness level is on a steady decline.  Unfortunately anyone who lives an active lifestyle is at risk for pulls, tears, and fractures.  So it seems likely that many of us could stand to benefit from some positive tips on how to stay fit – physically as well as mentally – while injured.

To start, you have to take things slow and build back up.  With hard work and effort and dedication, you’ll get back to where you were.  Many are even stronger after an injury!  Here are some tips for staying sane and fit while injured.

  • Find the silver lining…

Obviously when you’re sitting out, your fitness level and endurance take a hit.  You have to rebuild!  Take this time as an opportunity to rest and give your body a break.  For pulls, tears, and fractures, you often need several weeks of rest and NO activity to start the healing process before you can get released to start adding some strength & conditioning back into your routine.

  • …Cry it out when you need to.

To have to sit out, to know that your progress as a physically active person has come to a stop, and there will be days where you just break down and cry thinking about everything.  But it’s OK to feel that way, let yourself get it out.  It’s part of the healing process.

  • Get back to working out as soon as it’s safe.

There’s always a way to work around your injuries.  My son had an ankle fracture, which required surgery.  He ended up w/ two screws in his ankle to tighten up the fracture so it would heal properly.  He fractured it during summer football camp, and missed his whole sophomore football season.  It was heartbreaking for him.  As a parent, it’s extremely hard to see your kid so disappointed and upset.  My son was cleared little by little.  After one month of rest, he was allowed to start lifting weights for his upper body.  After 3 months, he was allowed to add swimming to his routine for Cardio purposes to jump start his conditioning for sports.  At month 4, he was allowed to bear some weight and start working his lower body a bit.  It’s wise to get the approval and recommendations of your treating physician or therapist.  Follow their recommendations for when you can resume exercise, how much, and what type of exercise is best.

  • Rely on community.

The people in the gym, the people you play sports with, and the fitness community will be awesome and so supportive.  Many will reach out and tell you, “You’ll be fine.  You can get through it.”

  • Take your time.

You get one chance to heal.  Do it the right way.  Don’t push it by doing things that could aggravate your injury even more.

  • Focus on nutrition

While tough workouts are temporarily out, it’s especially important to make sure you’re eating healthy.  It’s important for your healing, and eating well while you’re sidelined can help you avoid putting on extra weight while you are laid up.

  • Busy yourself with something new.

With the extra time you have, do something else that you enjoy or find a new way to challenge yourself.  Try and beat a video game, read a book, or learn a new hobby.

  • Don’t let negative thoughts poison your return to workouts.

While you’re getting back into the swing of things after a forced break, do not beat yourself up for the workouts you missed, or judge yourself for the bodily changes that inactivity inevitably brings.  Don’t get mad if and when you struggle with something that felt easy a few months ago.  Don’t let negative self-talk pollute your workout space.

LAST, remember injuries are temporary.  You will need your family and friends support.   Ask for help when you need it!  Your loved ones will be there for you.

On a personal note…I have experience with sport injuries as both my sons have endured some serious injuries.  I watched my oldest son Alex work his tail off to keep up his strength during the healing process by doing all that he could with his upper body as he couldn’t bear weight for several months (ankle fracture).  He was so upset about missing his football stats his sophomore year.   I supported him and encouraged him through the process.  I am happy to say he came back stronger than ever his junior year, and I couldn’t be prouder of him.  The adversity he went through truly changed him and the growth through the process was incredible to witness.

My younger son David ended up tearing his ACL in his right knee which turns out to be a worse injury than a bone fracture.  The ACL repair and post-surgery regime was extremely difficult.  This injury has put him out of sports for 9 months.  The challenge with ligament repairs is that they are a lengthy rehab before you can get cleared for sports.  I have found, that letting him still attend practices really helped him get through this time.  Instead of playing basketball, he kept score for the team this year.  It kept his mind off of the fact that he couldn’t do what he loves for a while.  My number one tip is to Love the injured, and keep them focused on other hobbies they love.  You will not be sidelined forever, and your comeback is up to YOU! 

Kelly Gibson – Eastside Y Healthy Living Director