Injuries are the worst. You’re just getting into your groove at the gym (or with running, or tennis, or badminton) and suddenly you're down for the count. Dealing with an injury can be painful (obviously), frustrating, and really discouraging. Often your first impulse is to stay home, rest, and pout - but I am here to tell you that is not the only option. Keeping your body moving in some way can help you deal with the mental impacts of injury - and maybe get you back to normal faster.
Of course the very first thing you should do is see a medical professional (see item #1 below for more about that!). Once you’ve done that and you have a recovery plan, it’s time to look for ways to keep moving. There’s plenty of evidence to support the idea that maintaining exercise in some way will get you back on your feet faster and in better spirits. In fact, a recent study found that stopping regular exercise can “lead to increases in depressive symptoms after just three days**.” And once you get stuck to that couch, it can be really hard to get back up again.
With a little bit of creativity you can find plenty of ways to keep your gym schedule while your body heals. The wonderful thing about CrossFit is that “constantly varied” leaves lots of room for different movements. Sprained ankle? Nothing wrong with those arms, how about bench press!? Sore elbow? Seems like you should still be be able to run around the block a few times. Start by isolating the injured area, and then work out from there - what things can you move or use that don’t impact the injury? There is always something you can do at the gym (Physical Therapy exercises, anyone?), so don’t just assume there’s no hope and abandon ship.
What should you do if you’re injured?
Consult a professional! We can refer you to a trusted health care practitioner (we know a few!). Folks who know about physical therapy (PT), acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic care are all there waiting to help you get better (and in many cases, better than before your injury).
Talk to your coach. We can’t stress this one enough. We need to know what’s going on with you. Also, we worry! Don’t just disappear from the gym for two weeks – send us an email and let us know what’s going on.
Don’t just fade away into the couch waiting for your body to do it’s thing. You take ibuprofen and cold medicine, right? So why not do everything you can to support the healing process for injury too? Stretch, massage, mobility work - just keep moving!
In December 2016 I herniated a disk in my back and was out for a few months. My initial reaction was panic, especially when told over and over again that I couldn’t do anything but walk for the next few months (by those medical professionals I saw… hint hint). I didn’t want to get out of practice going to the gym and knew it was important to keep moving - so I went to the gym to walk. Eventually those trips turned into a walk + PT exercises. Then they became heavily modified versions of the workout everyone else was doing. Slowly but surely I was able to get back to regular classes with scaled movements. By the time May rolled around not only was I back to doing what everyone else was - I was stronger and better than before.
So take it from me, if the worst happens and you get an injury follow the steps above and then get creative. You know your body best and you’re all it’s got - so make sure you’re doing everything you can to keep it strong and healthy.
**University of Adelaide. (2018, March 22). Stopping exercise can increase symptoms of depression. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 16, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180322112720.htm