10 Injury hacks for the New Year – So we’re basically a month into 2016 and you’re likely one of the many people who jumped straight into a new workout routine with reckless abandon and enthusiasm. It feels great, doesn’t it? You bought all the latest gear, you were focused all month on shedding those love handles, and you ate the healthiest of foods. Let’s look at 10 injury hacks for the new year to keep you feeling your best and sticking with your new Mojo.
There’s just one problem – you never slowed down and now you’re hurt. Uh Oh, you may already have the injury bug!
The dreaded workout injury can happen to anyone at anytime, regardless of your fitness level. And it’s not because you don’t know what you are doing, but rather, you flat-out over trained or pushed your body faster than it can go. Now your hamstring is gimpy, your shoulder hurts, or maybe it’s your knee.
Don’t let that injury get you down, or worse, make you give up your fitness goals altogether! Remember … you are down, but you are not out!
Here are 10 ways to keep training, I call them injury hacks, so you can stay on pace with your fitness goals.
- Pace Yourself/Rest – This is a marathon, not a sprint. You started this year off on the right foot because you wanted to make a lifestyle change. That commitment takes time, so you might as well enjoy that time, right? Start your exercise each day and gradually build on your fitness level so that you aren’t taxing yourself too early and risking injury. I am all about high-intensity workouts, but not every one is meant to crush you – especially if you are just starting out. Keep tabs on the length of time you are working out and cut down to shorter sequences if you are nursing an injury. Don’t be afraid to rest! Rest is crucial before you launch into another killer workout – especially if you feel like you may be hurt.
- Cross-Training – Cross-training is ideal when it comes to overall fitness performance. Essentially, it’s a combination of various exercises to work your body in different ways. If you are a runner and you’re hurt, things like swimming, cycling, jumping on the Stairmaster, or running in water allow you to keep training while allowing your injury to heal. This takes creativity and an high level of positivity on your part, but even if you have a bothersome knee or sore shoulder, there’s usually no reason you can’t find other ways to stay fit.
- Lighter weight, increased reps – Slower and more concentrated repetitions with a lighter-than-normal weight will keep you going during an injury – especially if you insist on keep your injured area moving. Not to mention, doing high repetitions helps you lose fat and tones your muscles. It’s that simple. Once your injury is healed, gradually increase the weight back to where you were before.
- Alternative Exercises – I sort of touched on this earlier with cross-training, but it’s worth mentioning again because there are so many options to help you avoid high-impact training while adding more focus on proper form. High impact exercises like running and weight lifting may be a detriment to whatever workout injury you are dealing with, so why not give step aerobics, walking, elliptical, yoga, flexibility training, or resistance bands a solid tryout. You’d be surprised what they can do to keep you going.
- Nutrition – I’m sure you are thinking that nutrition is being mentioned way too far down on the list, and you are right. But what can I say – I’m trying to pace myself! I had a friend who loved to run so much that he developed a stress fracture in his left foot. Now that’s obviously a pretty significant injury, and because he knew he’d be on the mend for quite some time, it forced him – imagine that – to pay more attention to the types of food he was putting in his mouth. He lost 60 pounds, and that weight loss helped him reach and exceed his original fitness levels faster post-injury.
- Warm-up – Check out this link http://sportsmedicine.about.com/cs/injuryprevention/a/aa071001a.htm. There are endless benefits to warming up properly, but strangely, our tight schedules at work or home – sometimes we’re lucky enough to simply have the chance to workout – force us to jump right into the actual workout itself. Have you ever jumped right out of bed on a short-night’s sleep and ran three miles in the cold? Without a proper warmup, you likely won’t make it far, and your future workouts will suffer. Make the time to stretch, even if for 5-10 minutes. It will help you in the long run.
- Keep a journal – An old-fashioned idea for the injured soul that needs that constant daily reminder of what WAS accomplished rather than what WASN’T accomplished. That same friend I mentioned earlier with the stress fracture kept a journal of his daily activity. He tracked everything from what he ate to his daily weight loss. As he worked himself back into form, the journal helped him focus more on what he was accomplishing – even in a week’s time – rather than focus on the long road uphill.
- Stay Positive – This is easier said than done. All you want to do is go full bore into whatever you were doing. The last thing you want is to have to hold yourself back. An injury can tax you both physically and mentally, in that regard. So stay positive. Studies consistently show that a positive outlook can help you get back in the game faster. Set goals for while you are on the mend, then set future goals for when you are back to 100 percent! Don’t feel sorry for yourself!
- Proper Form/Prevention – Stretch and then use proper form. The majority of injuries in the gym take place because we move our bodies in directions they aren’t supposed to go (jerking, twisting motions). So focus on slower, methodical repetitions. Not only will this prevent injuries, but it will help you get through your current workouts while you are healing up.
- Consider a coach – I live for helping others set goals and redefine your mission. Sometimes you need that after an injury, especially if you’ve either lost focus or confidence in your abilities. A coach or trainer is there to work with you and help create things like a meal plan and workout routine while keeping you motivated, assess body weaknesses and so much more. It’s all in an effort to help build a better YOU.