So you can't work out - now what?

by - 11:15 AM

If you've ever been sidelined by an injury, you know the feeling - you want so badly to go for a run, do something active, heck even just run your normal after work errands -  but you are forced to sit on your ass. For a very active person, it is insanely frustrating.

So what do you do? Your normal routine has been halted. You subconsciously feel your pants getting tighter. How can you maintain what you have been working so hard for when you can no longer sweat?

Double icing is the new double fisting

I typically face most of my injuries in a prolonged state of denial - like, say packing my ski gear on a Thursday, while severely limping, thinking I'd be ok to ski Sunday (sorry Colls - I owe you! #mostunderstandingfriendever).

When I reach the acceptance phase, it is usually accompanied by a round of heavy tears, some Nancy Kerrigan-esque "whyyyy? whhyyy?" and then...crap. What do I do now?

Anyone else catch 30 for 30? Craziness.

As someone who has dealt with multiple sports injuries, I have realized it means something different now than it did when I was younger. Namely, it takes longer to recover (aka scary signs of aging) and I really have to watch what I eat more now if I can't work out, unlike when I was 18 and a metabolic machine.

Here are my tips for how to navigate being sidelined by an injury.

When you are injured and can't work out...

...Modify your diet

If you have reached a pretty good equilibrium with food intake and your activity level, it can be hard to figure out what to eat if you aren't burning off the extra calories. When I am super active, I crave a lot of carbs and I eat them, because I know my body needs the fuel. When you don't burn off excess carbohydrates, your body converts them to sugar, and begins storing them as fat. Conversely, if you don't eat enough protein, your body has a set requirement it needs to retain muscle mass.

My recommendation is to modify your carb and protein intake. I am not a calorie counter, but I know what a typical day looks like meal-wise for me. Therefore, I will sub out normal carb heavy meals for more protein heavy ones, as well as limiting my sugar intake.

And as always, avoid as many processed foods as possible.

...Move around

I know that sounds opposite of the "Rest" in RICE, but after fully resting your injury for a few days, it can be very beneficial to start doing some recovery exercises to decrease stiffness and stimulate blood flow. After a week of having a very stiff knee that was basically permanently bent in place, I incorporated some physical therapy exercises and was shocked at how much better it felt and how much the swelling actually decreased.

My at-home PT setup

Ask your doctor for some safe exercises you can do at home and if you have access to a pool, hydrotherapy is the BEST. Aquajogging is the best thing you can do for a lower body injury to increase mobility with no pressure on the joints.

...Spend the extra time doing what you love

Being injured always makes me realize how much time I actually spend working out. I have so much extra free time, I don't know what to do with myself! I also look to exercise mainly as a stress reliever and really look forward to that endorphin high I get after working out. This was EXTREMELY hard for me to get over in my first few days. I was an emotional wreck.

So I started spending the extra time doing things I enjoyed but otherwise didn't have (or make) time for, like getting into a really good book. Write down three things that bring you complete peace and relaxation so your mind has something to de-stress it and you have something to look forward to doing.

So yes, I messed up my knee. It's sprained right now, and I hope to be back in fighting shape in the next week. This just leaves more time for writing and focusing on my newest venture...

Up next week, look for a #meatlessmonday recipe for warm kale salad and on Thursday I will be sharing with you all my BIGGEST. NEWS. YET.  I am crazy excited about it.

Have a great weekend and #livehealthy!

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