Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation - medical acronymNobody enjoys getting injured. For athletes, injuries are a part of the game. You give it your all when you play. Your competitive spirit drives you to be the best you can be and go for gold every time. For exercisers, injuries also creep up at inconvenient times. Overuse injuries like tendonitis can pop up. Sore, tight muscles can lead to strains and sprains. And improper form is probably the number one reason for injuries in exercisers.

With the reason for injuries aside, if you become the unfortunate victim of an injury that sidelines you for a number of weeks or even months, your doctor may prescribe rest or physical therapy. Either way you’re going to be recovering from an injury. But how can you stay fit as you heal?

You don’t have to throw in the towel and give up exercise! Obviously it depends on the nature of your injury, and physical therapy will focus on the specific injured area. You will be getting some exercise with physical therapy, but for the most part, the attention will be spent on retraining your neural pathways and teaching the muscles to get strong again. If rest is prescribed for your injury, ask your doctor what you can do, so you have a clear idea of your limitations or freedoms. The worst thing you can do when injured is try to come back too fast or too soon. You risk re-injury or bring the possibility of disallowing the injury to heal properly.

If you have a foot injury and have to wear a boot for a month, don’t stop lifting weights with your upper body. Keep that same mentality if your shoulder is in a sling. Find a recumbent or stationary bicycle and keep those legs moving! The point is, recovering from an injury is zero fun. You want to be back to normal. You’re sick of the pain. It’s completely understandable, but you can stay fit as you heal. Just be careful. Your doctor will tell you what you are allowed to do, but don’t be afraid to ask, for he or she may not just come out and tell you it’s OK to keep exercising the other areas of your body.

Pay attention to your diet as well. Some injuries need a lot of rest, and this rest is going to lead to a more sedentary lifestyle. When you stop moving, it’s going to get tougher for your body to burn calories. Don’t overeat. If at all possible, focus on your core muscles to maintain proper posture and strength.

When you recover from an injury, you can stay fit as you heal. Don’t let the injury get you down or make you feel like you shouldn’t workout. The endorphins released from the exercise can definitely help your mood and help you stay positive as you heal.