If you are genuinely going to live a fit and active lifestyle, the occasional injury is part of the process.
Prevention is the name of the game, but at some point in the process of pushing yourself, something will pop, snap, or crack… If you are practicing good form and taking the necessary precautions, the injuries should be relatively minor and easily healed with some “time off”.
Depending on the individual circumstances, an injury can be very emotionally draining. If it prevents an active individual from performing at the level they are accustomed to, or if the individual loses strength/size, the mental response can be pretty tough.
I am going to be offering advice based on MY experiences with injuries over the years. ALWAYS consult a doctor when determining how to deal with an injury. You need to ensure that continuing your planned routines will not be detrimental to your recovery.
The first thing you need to do upon injuring yourself is rest. Depending on how much pain you are in, this can mean a variety of different things. Personally, when I popped something in my lower back last week I was able to transition from leg day into a light chest day for the workout. The next day I was very stiff so I took the whole day off. I was back in the gym 48 hours after my injury hitting some reduced intensity upper body moves. I will post a quick video from that workout soon. I kept the weight belt on for most moves (military press for example). After about 4 days the direct pain in my back was gone and the stiffness had subsided. I was able to hit a reduced weight leg work out that limited the stress on the lower back by using machines (as seen in the video above). In my experience, injuries of this nature can take between 2-4 weeks to recover with adequate rest.
After some adequate rest time and easing your way back into some light weight training you will need to push it in order to achieve your pre-injury training intensity. The longer you have been working out for, the better idea you will have about when this is appropriate. For newer lifters, or those with limited experience recovering from injuries, I would always lean more towards a very patient approach.
Before pushing any substantial weight, you need to regain your full range of motion, pain free. Once you are able to practice the full range of motion for whatever body part was injured, begin SLOWLY adding weight. This can be a shot to the ego, but it is essential. A few years back I injured my pec. It was a minor tear and was able to recover on its own. But, when I started reintroducing weights I was bench pressing 20 lb dumbbells. Needless to say, as a guy with almost 12 years lifting experience, it’s tough not to jump into “normal weights”.
Nutrition is not only important when recovering from a workout, but also when recovering from an injury. This is an often overlooked element.
Healing from an injury can take weeks or even months (healing time can vary from person to person), but you can dramatically accelerate the healing process by getting adequate nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
There are foods that have inflammatory effects and foods that have anti-inflammatory effects on the body. Fried foods, processed flour, tomatoes, potatoes, and hot peppers are some examples of inflammatory foods that should be avoided when try to accelerate recovery. Some anti-inflammatory options are garlic, radishes, and beets. Fresh ginger can be incorporated as well.
Micro nutrients to include when recovering:
Multivitamins: Helps prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies and aids tissue repair.
Zinc: Important in tissue repair.
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids: An important antioxidant which helps tissue repair and growth.
Magnesium: Strengthens wounded tendons and ligaments.
BCAA’s: Help promote the healing of muscle tissue, bones, and skin.
Essential fatty acids: Speed up recovery and promotes cellular health.
Glucosamine: Helps strengthen and form tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and joint fluid.
Calcium: Helps repair connective tissue.