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Training with an Injury

Updated: Mar 25, 2021

Written by Physiotherapist Matthew Matson.

With everything reopening again, I know we are all really keen to get back into the gym and the local sporting ground. Training for the first week/month is going really well and then that dreaded niggle, ache or pain begins.

SO, the question is... do you stop the activity and lose all motivation that you originally had?

The short answer is no.

Before we get into the crux of it all, please be aware that this blog is not individualised to your specific injury although it may give you some ideas on what you can do to keep going. It’s always wise to consult your medical or healthcare provider to get a clear diagnosis and treatment/rehab plan.

This blog IS specific to overuse/load related injuries. Now you’re probably thinking whether your current injury is in this category or not. A nice way to differentiate can be looking at when the pain first begun:

- Overuse/load related - arise over a period of time

- Acute - have a severe and sudden onsent

What should you do if you have an Injury and want to keep training?

Firstly, there are some injuries that just need rest, for example a stress fracture where you need to offload that area for a period of time.

On the other hand, having too much rest can lead to increased fear and a lack of confidence when returning back to the sport or hobby.

In most other injuries, relative movement is ideal for optimal rehabilitation. You have some options:

- If the injured part is really sensitive, then just train another body part and give your injured joint relative rest. For example, an achey knee after doing a bushwalk on the weekend. Instead of going to the gym and training legs or doing hopping/jumping movements, just train upper body until it settles

- Modify the activity – do it for less time, do less weight, do a decreased range of motion. For example, shoulder pain after surfing longer than 40 minutes – surf for just that time and aim shorten your paddle length

- Talk to your medical practitioner or coach about what other activities you can do to keep fit. For example, if you have a lower limb injury, doing laps at the local pool with a pool buoy in between your legs may help you keep aerobically fit whilst offloading the injured area.

The main message here is that in most injuries (apart from a couple of serious ones), movement will increase the speed of your recovery and is essential to avoid poor movement patterns associated with pain!

The next blog post will be on a pain scaling system you can use while you are training to determine whether you are doing too much or help you increase the load.

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