Ever notice how regular exercisers can be a pretty stubborn bunch? I should know; I’m one of them!
Don’t get me wrong, that stubbornness is a good thing when it comes to training consistently, but it can cause problems when you are ill or injured, as it may make you reluctant to miss a workout.
The trick is knowing when it’s okay to push on and when rest is your better option. Check out Shane’s overview of this topic and his approach to missing a workout here
Let’s talk about illness first
As a rule, if an illness affects you from your neck up, you can exercise safely. That means things like head colds and sore throats.
In contrast, if an illness affects you from the neck down, it’s best you skip your workout. Chesty coughs, and stomach upsets fall into this category. You should also skip your workout if you have any hint of a fever.
What about “sweating it out?”
Whilst good in theory, the approach of “sweating out” any illness is usually not a good one. When you are ill, your body needs to use resources for recovery. When you train, it also needs those same recovery resources.
In essence, you end up “double dipping” on your restoration resources and won’t recover well from your workouts or whatever is ailing you.
If you are experiencing anything other than a mild illness, a few days off from training is just what the doctor ordered.
Your fellow gym attendees will also be grateful if you make yourself scarce for a few days, so they won’t catch whatever it is you’ve got!!
Make sure you exercise common sense when dealing with an injury.
If you are unlucky enough to suffer an injury, make sure you do first seek out medical advice from your doctor or other trained professional first. It is best to learn what is really going on so you don’t risk making it a lot worse or causing permanent damage.
Sometimes complete rest, although hard, is what needs to happen. However, some injuries can also often be trained around – which is something most of us have had to do from time to time.
It’s just a matter of figuring out which movements and exercises you can perform without causing you any pain in the area. It’s rarely a good idea to try and train through pain, as you’ll only delay that recovery time and make things worse!
If you have to take a complete break from the gym, it is not the end of the world.
Injured your lower body?
Then you should have no problem training your upper body while you heal. In many cases, this will enhance the recovery process by giving you a dose of those exercise-induced endorphins to help you maintain a positive outlook and increase blood flow through the body as well as the injured area specifically – boosting recovery processes.
This positive mental attitude can also enhance the healing process.
Managed to hurt one side of your body?
You may find that training the non-injured side helps preserve strength and function. This is called Cross-Education.
For example, if you break your left arm, train your right arm, and you will maintain muscle mass and strength in the injured side. Cool, right?!
Once you feel better, you should return to full training carefully and gradually, trying not to push the area too hard.
Injuries, on the whole, are a BIG topic. We know lower backs, chest wall, hips, and knees can be such areas so don’t forget to check out this video on how rowing can help get you back on target (provided you’ve listened to the points above!)
Finally, don’t undo that benefit by confusing dedication for stubbornness!
If you really need to take a break from training to shake off an illness or injury, you aren’t being lazy; you are just being smart, like a Dark Horse!!
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