It happens at the worst possible moment - everything is just hunky-dory when out of the blue, something tragic happens. Maybe you pull/tear a muscle, sprain an ankle or break a bone. You may be on the squat rack, out on the trail or just walking down the street. There is a wide range of injuries you could suffer and each takes different amounts of rest to heal. The common thread: injuries frustrate athletes. An injury can make you feel like all your progress just crumpled in the trash and your whole motivation crushed to bits.
But when you get bucked off the horse, you get back in the saddle right? Yes, yes you do!
An injury doesn't mean quittin' time. It means it's time to get tough and smart, so you can heal the injury fast and keep your progress perpetual. But what's a bombproof plan of action that will keep your results coming without risking a re-injury?
Learn From Your Mistake
If your injury was one of those freak accidents (you tear your hamstring running from a bear), that's one thing, but if the injury occurred from your training method, exercise technique or lifestyle choices, then you need to get to the source of the issue. There's no sense applying a solution if you don't know the problem; that might make things worse or allow the problem to resurface.
Don't be proud or too stingy. If you need to see a doctor or physical therapy specialist, do it. If you catch the cause early, you'll save yourself more money and time in the long run.
Adjust The Diet Dial
Your physical ability is limited with an injury, so what does this mean for nutrition? It is not an excuse for packing on the fatty pounds. Do not wallow in couch-cushion self-pity and succumb to an alcohol binge. You can still maintain a great physique by eating a proper diet.
It's all about adjustments. If your injury doesn't prevent you from doing most of your training, you should be able to maintain your current intake of macronutrients. But if you're likely to miss most of your workouts, let's pull back a little on the food intake. As long as your diet matches your activity level, you'll be fine!
Your body also enjoys a change of pace diet-wise every once in awhile, so don't sweat it. Remember not to cut back too much, because your body needs macronutrients to repair your injury.
Tune Up Your Training
An injury means your body isn't running at 100%, so you shouldn't expect it to. After an injury, it's incredibly important to make sure your training stays at the highest level possible without causing a re-injury. You must know what area you need to protect and not overstress it.
This is also the perfect time to get started on a specialized workout program to target any weaker and non-injured areas of your body that you want to bring up.
Allow your injured area to recover, but don't allow the rest of your body to slack off!
Rehab Sucks, But...
The worst thing you can do after an injury is to seek rehabilitative advice from a specialist, and not heed that advice. Many of us cherish an excuse to throw a pity party, but you absolutely, positively must rehabilitate your injury. Yes, it can hurt, but you'll return to your previous fitness levels much faster if you push through the painful exercises and strict recommendations.
Just like normal training, injury recovery is a no-pain-no-gain scenario. People often do nothing after an injury and when they feel better, they just suffer another injury because their muscles were left unattended for weeks on end. Don't let your recovery become stagnant!
Slow It Up, Cowboy
Yes, you need to train and do rehabilitative exercise, but don't make the mistake of doing as much as you can in attempt to recover as fast as possible and progress at lightning speed. You are human, not lightning. Your body naturally works hard to recover, and if you ask too much of it, it will crash on you. You might risk re-injuring yourself or inhibiting your body's ability to recover.
It's also not smart to immediately submit your recently-recovered injured area to the intense training grinder. Work it back up to speed slowly - this prevents repeated injury and will allow for increased strength in your target area. If your body tells you that your training is too much, too fast, then listen to it.
Help your body along the whole way, and you'll be back to normal (or even stronger) in no time!