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Do No Harm – Working Through Injury Setbacks

Text Only LogoWriters face rejection and setbacks on an almost daily basis. We can’t control rejection. We can’t control a lot of circumstances that affect how our work is received. The only things we can do is persist. We don’t persist in ignorance though! No, we keep trying to be better writers and try new approaches that lead to actual growth and success.

Fitness has its disappointments too, and they can often be outside our control. Nobody sets out to get injured or sick. Nobody develops a workout program with the intent of dropping out a couple weeks into it because of a sprain or strain. Let’s say you’ve injured yourself. You have attempted an activity and your body has said, “Nope! In fact, more than nope. I’m gonna break down on you here! Deal with it.”

Now what? There are three phases you should work through.

First: Stop. Simple enough, right? Quit whatever you’re doing and treat the injury as needed. Attempting to work through an injury or make up for lost time by working out even harder is a surefire way to injure yourself further. Your body has hit a limit and you need to respect that. Pain is its way of saying, “Uh, hey, can we maybe take it easy and deal with this issue first? That’d be great.” Proper treatment is obviously based on your personal situation and could be everything from putting ice on a sprain to visiting the doctor for a fracture or torn ligament.

Second: Recovery. Give yourself time to heal. It’s discouraging to not be able to make progress. But don’t try to rush the recovery process, as doing so increases the chances of hurting yourself even more down the road. The tricky part is, once the swelling or pain has faded, you might be tempted to jump right back in to where you left off. Try to resist that impulse. If you want to remain somewhat active during this time, focus on exercises that don’t involve the injured body part or muscle group as much.

If the injury necessitates going to the doctor, listen and adhere to whatever recovery timeline they give you for this and don’t shortchange yourself through impatience.

Third: Rebuilding. This is the testing phase when you bring the injured element back into the mix. Start light when you resume your normal exercises. To reincorporate the injured component, a good rule would be to decrease its effort by 50% for a couple weeks. Then increase the workload by 10% each following week until you’re back to 100%. Build back up to where you were slowly, being aware of any reemergence of discomfort. Recognize that, due to the downtime, the injured component may be limited in mobility or strength for a while. Again, if your doctor, trainer, or physical therapist gives you a rehabilitation program to follow…follow it! Listen to your body and listen to the professionals you trust.

The key here is expressing kindness to yourself during the whole process. Be patient with yourself so you don’t undercut the healing. You can often still find ways to maintain certain fitness elements in the face of an injury, but also recognize when you need time to rest, recuperate, and will eventually get back to where you were and move forward from there.

Have you ever been injured or experienced a hard setback to your fitness and health? How did you deal with it? Have you ever tried to rush recovery only to find yourself in a worse situation than before?

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