Should I exercise with an injury? In this article we answer this age old question and provide some practical tips that you can implement immediately.
Training is going well.
You are getting in the gym a few times per week, the weights are going up, and you are feeling better.
Then boom, disaster strikes.
Seriously, there is nothing that can derail your progress quite like an injury.
It not only makes it harder to exercise, but depending on the type of injury, it may even make something as simple as getting off the couch seem like climbing mount Everest.
Combine that with the fact that an injury can also destroy your motivation, and you have a recipe for disaster.
But does it have to be this way? Does an injury have to derail your progress?
Which begs the question — should I exercise with an injury, or should I rest and wait for it to heal?
Should I Exercise With An Injury?
So, you get injured.
In my personal opinion, stopping exercise is the absolute worst thing you can do.
I mean, as far as I am concerned, this whole ‘fitness’ thing is a simple game of attrition.
You show up, you do the work, and you build momentum. Over time, actually showing up gets easier, and you start to enjoy this whole ‘exercise’ thing.
You begin to push yourself, not because your trainer tells you too, but because you want to see what you are capable of.
And then the results start to come rolling in.
With this in mind, I would argue that even in the face of injury, you should definitely keep exercising.
In fact, it would be silly not too.
Which leads us to our next point quite nicely…
How Should I Exercise With An Injury?
While I am a huge proponent of keeping that exercise momentum going, your exercise routine should change in the face of an injury.
1. Avoid Aggravating Exercises
First and foremost, you need to avoid any exercises that aggravate the injury like the plague.
- This means that if you have a knee injury, squats and lunges might be out of the question
- A shoulder injury may mean that you need to avoid all pressing movements for the time being
- And a lower back injury might mean that you avoid heavy squats and deadlifts for a couple of weeks.
This first step doesn’t have to be hard — hell, I could probably summarize it by simply saying “don’t be stupid“.
While this may be viewed as a negative step, it shouldn’t be.
In fact, this may actually give you an opportunity to get better at some movements you don’t normally spend much time with — which will only benefit you in the long run.
2. Double Down on Exercises That Feel Good
Step number two rolls on quite nicely from step number one, and really, it just makes sense.
Those movements that don’t cause you pain?
Train them hard, train them heavy, and train them often.
Use the opportunity to build strength in different movements and prioritize the growth of certain muscle groups.
In short, have fun with it.
3. Get it Checked Out
And finally, if your injury has been around for more than a couple of days and doesn’t seem to be getting any better, get it checked out by a professional (chiropractor, physio etc.).
There is a genuine possibility that your injury might benefit from:
- Some hands on treatment, possibly a massage
- Some specific rehabilitation exercises
And a health professional can help you with both — which will ultimately get you back to 100% as soon as possible.
Take Home Message
While getting an injury is far from a good thing, it should not derail your progress.
By making some smart adjustments to your training you can keep exercising, and more importantly, keep seeing progress.