Many people who are new to fitness – or coming back to it after months or even years of not having a routine – are afraid of getting hurt.
In some ways, I can’t blame them. The last thing you want to do when starting an exercise program that’s supposed to make you healthier and feel better is injure yourself and wind up having to stop.
Also, most of us have probably tried some kind of extreme exercise program in the past, thinking more intense workouts would get us better results. When in reality, doing a bunch of high-intensity, random stuff as fast as you can with 30 other people and only one trainer gets you an appointment for an MRI.
I’m here to share some good news: Your injuries do NOT define you.
They’re part of your anatomy, and we can’t ignore them. After all, the time machine is broken and not even the best coach in the world can un-tear your labrum or meniscus.
But injuries can and should be managed, and they do not need to hold you back from doing all the things you love to do.
As with anything else, focus on controlling the controllables.
Stress/Diet/Sleep: Unlike the damaged cartilage in your knee, you can control your stress, diet and sleep … all factors that have a massive impact on your physical and emotional health, not to mention your longevity. Simple changes to your diet (like eating lots of fruits and vegetables, incorporating lean protein and healthy fats, and supplementing where appropriate) can give you more energy for your workouts and help you recover better and faster. Healthy stress management practices, like mindful meditation, can reduce cortisol levels (the body’s “stress hormone”). And the holy grail of recovery – sleep – can keep you doing all the activities you want and need to do.
Functional Diagnosis: This includes things like joint mobility and soft tissue flexibility, and both can absolutely be improved with targeted and methodical corrective exercise, not to mention a proper dynamic warmup and cooldown stretch.
Having an injury history doesn’t mean you should stop working out or avoid certain exercises completely. With guidance from a qualified, experienced coach, you can continue doing all the things you love as you age.
And that’s really the name of this game called “life,” isn’t it?