If you have been doing group classes, personal training or ever participated in sports activities, chances are that along the way you have experienced some pain or discomfort associated with the activity. This is all part of the process and there are ways to properly address these issues to get you back in the gym or on the field as quickly as possible.
First Step: Assessment
When discomfort or pain begins it is important to do a self-assessment to determine the severity of the issue. First decide if the issue is painful or uncomfortable. Pain is often associated with stabbing, sharp, or stinging sensations. These are much different than feelings of discomfort which usually take the shape of feeling like pressure or tension in unfamiliar areas like wrists or elbows. Painful issues should look to be avoided by modifying exercises while discomfort can be worked through.
Second Step: Action Plan
Once you have determined that you are experiencing pain it is critical to develop a plan of action to start the process of active recovery. The plan should start with avoiding all movements that cause this pain. Now decide an appropriate amount of time to avoid the painful movements while waiting for the area to recover. Typically, two weeks is enough time for minor chronic injuries to subside. If after two weeks the pain is still persistent then it is time to make a doctor’s appointment and seek professional medical advice. An example of this includes avoiding all overhead movements while resting a hurt shoulder. Another example is avoiding squatting motions while experiencing knee pain.
Final Step: Getting Back to Full Speed
Once pain has been removed and all movements that were being avoided are feeling good again its time to get back to work. When coming back from an injury it is very important to start slow and ease back to previous levels of intensity. For most athletes following a two-week recovery period another two to three weeks of slow ramp up of intensity is required to avoid reinjury. This could look like using only the empty barbell for the first week then adding only light weights for the second week and finally getting close to full intensity on week three.
Listen to Your Body
If something doesn’t feel right take the time to examine the issue and give it some time to heal. When things are better start back slow.
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