One of the most common questions we receive as fitness professionals is advice on what to do when a member is sick, hurt or has an injury.
Do they take complete time off, get a massage, and push through it, or do some type of modified training plan?
The answer is…
And, of course…
I have been in the fitness industry since 1992, and a competitive athlete since 1976 (I started with competitive motocross racing for 15 years, moved on to running and multisport racing for the next 15 years and, lately – probably, for 15 years – off road trail running and
As you can imagine, given my choice of competitive sports, and the industry I have chosen for my career, I have personally experienced and witnessed almost every sickness and injury that can happen to a person.
When we begin to assess what to do when you are sick, or hurt, or injured we have to start with where we start everything:
Why are you exercising, why are you competing, why is this important to you? Obviously, a professional athlete who earns their living at their sport is going to push a lot harder than someone who just runs the Peachtree 1x a year for fun (although I will tell you I have seen some recreational athletes push through more pain than the pros at times).
This being said, I have witnessed that most people (unfortunately very commonly at the advice of a trusted health care provider that means well but has probably had 4 hours total training in exercise and nutrition) tend to be way too conservative when it comes to taking time off from exercise.
What if I am sick?
It has been my experience, and most research shows, that light exercise (not letting your core temperature get up to high) will help strengthen your immune system and help you recover quicker. You will also feel better physically and psychologically which can help a ton when you are “down in the dumps” when you are sick.
The exceptions here are when you have a high fever, are contagious or throwing up. Please stay home and get better if this happens!
What if (my leg, my back, my wrist, my toe, etc.) hurts
This is where most people really make the wrong decision. Again, there are always exceptions but we have experienced that 80% or more of the time, light exercise will help recovery and make the pain less. Also, even if you have a broken bone, torn tendon or ligament, torn muscle, etc. if you stay off the affected area and train other parts of your body (i.e., doing upper body and core exercises when you have a torn Achilles Tendon – yep that one was me) will produce a great amount of total body Growth Hormone which will help the injured area heal faster and stronger! Light exercise also helps to reduce inflammation, and increase healing blood flow to injured areas.
For instance, do you know the BEST pain reliever for chronic Arthritis? You guessed it, not Advil, movement! It is counter-intuitive but it is true.
Plus, again, it makes you FEEL BETTER!
The great thing is, you belong to a great fitness club and have access to the best team of coaches around – they can modify around almost every exercise and are more than willing to spend more time with you when you need it. All you have to do is let us know and we will help you figure it out. We can even work with your orthopedist, doctor, pt, etc. to supplement whatever rehab exercises they have you doing.
So, don’t let a little pain sideline you. We are here to help you and make sure you don’t stop training all together!