When you’re the type of person who liked to push themselves to the limit, injury can be inevitable.  We’ve all been taught to “push through the pain”, but there is a point where doing so causes more harm than good.  Even the most adamant exercise addict should know when to take a break.  However, when you suddenly stop exercising, you deprive your body of the regular doses of dopamine and endorphins it has become used to.  In fact, if you’ve been relying on your daily workout for a mood booster or de-stresser, then it can be difficult to rest.  So many who suffer from chronic pain or severe injuries push themselves too fast.

This can cause long-term damage, though, forcing you on the couch for life.  So how do you balance feeling motivated, achieving your fitness goals, and your health?  Well..

Coping Methods

This is usually where people start when they know something is wrong. Access the severity of the pain. If your injury or condition has little hope of healing, you ought to look into ways to minimize the pain.  You might consider taking an aspirin before you work out– it reduces inflammation, as does copper and fish oil.

Additionally, you can use braces for any painful joints, both to support them and prevent further injury.  There are usually a range of support options available, from athletic tape to metal braces.  These can be especially helpful when transitioning back into your normal fitness regimen.

Try Alternative Workouts

If coping methods for your chronic pain aren’t working, and you’re in danger of abandoning your fitness goals altogether because of the pain, talk to a medical professional and ask what exercises you could try instead.  For example,  if knee pain is keeping you from running, you can swimming instead, to lessen the impact.  Even if you’re not a strong swimmer, you can work out in a hot tub or the shallow end too.

Do some research and find out what specific exercises you should avoid.  You should especially refrain from any repeated movement that causes intense pain.  If you were injured performing a specific workout, try something else that works similar muscle groups.  Try yoga, spinning, rock climbing, etc.  If you’re committed to a specific fitness goal, you’re going to have to be creative.

Focus on Another Area

If your chronic pain is in your arms, it’s time for some extended leg days!  If you fractured your ankle, work out your back. You can still get fit alternating your routine- actually, that is exactly what you should do to avoid hitting a plateau.   While it might be tempting to continue to work out your injured area, you don’t want to cause permanent damage.  This doesn’t mean you have to forget your specific goal; you just might want to put them on hold.  You can always return to the treadmill or bench press when you recover.

You’ll likely see a significant improvement quickly once you start working a new muscle group, although you should still keep your goals realistic.   Think of this improvement as an added benefit, although the main benefit is that you will still keep in the active mindset.  You’ll continue to work out regularly and won’t lose your motivation altogether.

Chronic pain is by far the worst to deal with and the most devastating to your motivation, but you can overcome it, just like you’ve overcome every other obstacle on your fitness journey.  However, this is something that can’t just be dealt with pure determination.  Nor should you just abandon your goals altogether.  You’ll have to modify your habits and actually deal with the problem, but you’ll be a stronger person for it, inside and out.

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