Unfortunately, most of us who maintain an active lifestyle will have a sporting injury at some point, and for many of us it is more than just once. Injuries can be devastating to those who are consistently active and particularly those training for an event. The physical repercussions are usually apparent, but the emotional and psychological issues are often less obvious and just as important.
CocoPro ambassador, CrossFitter and trail runner Sophie Adams shares her advice on dealing with the subsequent physical and mental struggles during injury periods.
Coping with injury
Exercise gives many of us a release and when we are unable to carry out our usual routine, it can have a profound effect on our mental health, often resulting in a feeling of isolation, or depression. From my personal experiences here are some handy tips on mentally coping with an injury:
- Create an alternative training schedule that provides structure. This will give you something to focus on daily as you recover so you don’t find yourself feeling in limbo.
- Try and stay social. Even if you can’t partake in your sport, still make an effort to go along and support others. This sense of community can help to soften the blow and make you still feel involved, even if you can’t fully take part.
- Listen to your body. Many athletes want to get back into training as soon as they can regardless of how their body feels. Powering through an injury is never a good idea as this can cause more damage. Be patient and work through your rehabilitation process to ensure your body is given the opportunity to fully recover.
- Find a silver lining. You learn a lot from injuries, about yourself and your body. From this experience you will often come out stronger and more knowledgeable about how to prevent injuries in the future.
Maintaining fitness whilst injured
How can you maintain a level of fitness when you are sidelined? Here are some handy tips I have used to ensure I maintain fitness whilst being injured:
- Work around your injuries. The key is to cross-train. Depending on the injury you have sustained, there will be various options for you to help continue training and avoid aggravating your injury. If you’re unable to run, check with your specialist if instead you can swim, bike or strength train. If you’re unable to cycle, could you practice yoga or pilates? Test yourself by trying something new whilst still moving and in turn potentially working on other weaknesses you would normally have disregarded (e.g. your mobility, core or glute strength).
- Walk, walk walk! A great option to include if you can. It is low impact and can be done anywhere. Adding in some extra daily steps keeps your body on the move and also helps your mind to focus. This could be anything from your commute to work, during a lunch break or a long hike over the weekend.
- Fuel right. Don’t reach for junk food whilst you are in recovery. Not only will this potentially lead to weight gain, but it can also hinder your recovery – good, highly nutritious foods can help you to recover faster.
If you are currently injured, it is important to try to turn the negative into a positive. From every injury we learn from it, adapt and become stronger. Keep as active as you can through cross-training and maintain a strong mindset by creating your own feasible and motivating schedules.