ANYONE MOTIVATED IN fitness is likely to go into a form of denial about the messages their body gives them, especially when it is telling them to STOP!
Indeed, resting is just as important as the actual exercising. The body needs to physically assimilate the rigors of a good workout, and it needs time for this. Even if there is no apparent injury or sudden pain during exercise, muscles can tear, ligaments and tendons can get over-stretched, and bursa (the fluid sacs that lubricate the joints) can get inflamed by constant repetitions. Resting is the only way to allow any of these potential problems from getting worse, or chronic.
I have spoken to several older fitness professionals and experienced yoga teachers and they all agree it’s very rare to not be carrying a niggling pain or injury.
Anyone who knows me knows that I am my own worst enemy when it comes to being kind to my body! And, unfortunately, the likelihood of injury from exercise or pain from ‘wear and tear’ increases with age, so knowing how to heal becomes an essential tool in the ‘fitness box’.
Healing the hurt
If it hurts, don’t do it! And don’t do it again until long after it stops hurting. People with injuries tend to test or challenge the area; someone with a healing knee injury will do some squats, just to see if it still hurts, and of course it does, and they’ve set themselves back to Square 1! The best policy is to substitute what you can’t do with something that you can.
Time is the Healer
The healing process is a lengthy one, and increases with age. Just think how long it takes to mend a broken bone – 6 weeks in a plaster cast, then another 6 weeks to get the limb back to full function. Tendons and ligaments take even longer to heal than bone, so patience is the key.
Stay active! Keep going with cardio-vascular workouts to increase oxygenation and good blood supply to the injured area. Nourish your body with good amounts of protein and superfoods to provide the building blocks for cell regeneration and repair. Use ice and heat therapy, and massage (but only when the inflammation has settled and it is pain-free). Remember, the body will always heal itself – if you treat it right!
Never start work on strengthening the injured part until all the symptoms have gone and it is completely healed. Instead, work on increasing the amount of movement gently and progressively. Once you have not had pain for a good period of time, (say 4-6 weeks) start with slow and gentle movements and take weeks, not days, to build up to a full range of motion and strength. Think about your technique – get an instructor or therapist to look at how you move and what your posture is like, in case that was the cause of the injury in the first place.
So, be patient, listen to your body and embrace the opportunity to change your workout if you are unlucky enough to get injured – after all, a few weeks of doing something different will set you up to return to your normal routine with more energy, and with a positive mind. Remember a muscle strain can be minor or severe. Minor injuries may take only two weeks to heal, while severe injuries need three months or longer
You know what they say: “A change is as good as a rest.” All I have to do is heed my own words!….