Being injured is never fun. From broken fingers to broken legs, injuries are draining both physically and mentally – especially when you realize that your injury will most likely inhibit your weekly workout routine. Whether you workout once a day or once a week, injuries can prevent you from getting that much needed exercise.
Sometimes when you don’t feel like getting a sweat session in, it’s nice to have your injury on your side as a “valid” excuse to not workout – but that mindset will only last for a few skipped workouts before you start realizing that you actually miss getting your workout in. In fact, having to continually miss your regularly scheduled workouts because of an injury can put a serious damper on your mood.
As we all know, exercise releases endorphins in your brain that can make you feel good. Because of this release of endorphins, we tend to feel better and happier after we exercise. If you’re used to getting this exercise powered high on a regular basis, an injury can have serious effects on your attitude and your mindset. In other words, it’s easy to start feeling down and depressed when you suffer from an injury.
I am no stranger to injury induced depression. As an avid athlete and active woman, I’ve found that sitting on the sidelines during an injury is often unbearable. Whether I’m playing for a team or just missing my regular workouts, it’s hard to sit on the couch recovering while I watch my friends continue their workout routines without me. What’s even more difficult is getting back into the swing of things once I’m fully recovered. After days, weeks, and months of recovery, stepping foot back inside the gym can be intimidating and scary – especially if your injury was caused by working out or playing a sport.
All of my injury induced depression has been a result of some serious knee issues that I’ve had to overcome. I’ve had surgery on both of my knees – and I handled each of my surgeries in completely different ways. Through my recoveries, I’ve learned that the best way to combat injury induced depression is to actually continue working out around your injury [in accordance with doctor’s orders, of course!]
During my first knee surgery, I let my injury get the best of me. I sat on the couch for months, sulking around and pouting because I couldn’t workout like I wanted to, I couldn’t run like I wanted to, I couldn’t even walk like I wanted to! I let my injury dictate my mood and I succumbed to a serious bout of injury induced depression that ultimately caused me to not return to the gym for nearly a year – even after I’d made a full recovery.
My second knee surgery was three weeks ago and I decided to think positive and think strength during this recovery. Rather than seeing my injury as a stop sign, I see it as a yield sign – proceed slowly and with caution, but don’t stop! I waited about a week and a half after surgery and once the pain had subsided, I started working out around my injury to the best of my abilities.
Even though I was still stuck on the couch, I realized I could work out my arms – a bum knee doesn’t affect your arm strength! I started doing arm workouts as best I could with dumbbells and kettlebells – all while sitting down! Of course, my arm workouts aren’t near as intense as usual, but it doesn’t matter because I’m still moving forward and I’m trying my best! The workouts I do are generally less than half the intensity of my normal workouts, but I keep telling myself that half a workout is better than no workout at all!
I never do any exercises that hurt my knee, but I also don’t let my knee stop me from exercising entirely. Instead of complaining about all the things I can’t do, I embrace the things I can do! I choose to see the positive light in a fairly negative situation – and that mindset helped me completely avoid the severe injury induced depression I suffered from during my first recovery.
After my first surgery, I didn’t hit the gym again for almost a year. After my second surgery, I started doing workouts again after a week and a half – same surgery, different mindset! That is an incredible difference that I was able to make by simply changing my outlook and my attitude. Because I choose to think positive, I overcame my injury faster than I ever thought possible!
When recovering from an injury, my advice to you is don’t let your injury get the best of you! If you choose to think positive and think strength, you can find ways to workout around your injury with modifications and by focusing on other areas of your body. If you hurt your leg, workout your arms! If you hurt your arms, workout your legs! If you hurt them both, workout your core! Find a way around whatever injury obstacles you may face!
Think positive, think strength, and think sweat, and don’t let your injury stand in between you and your workout routine. Remember, half a workout is better than no workout at all – so modify your exercises and do as much as you can! Always listen to your body and never push yourself to the point of pain – the last thing you want to do is aggravate or escalate your injury. As long as you’re trying, you’re one step ahead of where you would be if you weren’t trying at all.
[Make sure you always check with your doctor before starting a workout routine while injured.]