Why workout injuries are a learning opportunity

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Those of us who work out in order to get fitter know, as well as anyone, that there are potential drawbacks to our good intentions. The main example of this is, of course, injury. Ironically, our efforts to get in better shape and feel fitter can all too easily result in time spent rehabbing a strain, a break or a pull.

The truth is that we’ve probably all ended up with an injury at one time or another. The point of exercise is that it places a strain on us that allows us to build strength, endurance or flexibility. Because humans are not robots, sometimes we overreach, and we end up hurt. Of course that’s bad news, but if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. So in this case, if you suffer an injury or setback in your workout regime, you can at least learn from it.

Lesson #1: Know Your Limitations

For all the inspiring #fitspo talk, the real truth is that you are not a gladiator. You are not an Amazon warrior. Not yet, anyway – you’re working out so you can be those things one day, but right now you have some limits. It’s understandable you want to hit it out of the park on Day One, but a steady build is how you reach the top. You’ll get there. You won’t get there “yesterday”, and trying to do so will end badly. Be confident, but be patient; the alternative is never learning and never reaching your goals.

Lesson #2: Recovery Is An Activity In Itself

Sports professionals and gym fans alike will often speak of feeling frustrated and caged when they’re on the sidelines through injury. We can probably all think of an example of someone who returned to the fray as soon as it was physically possible, and then aggravated a not-fully-healed injury because they were too enthusiastic.

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Don’t see your setback as something that will deposit you on the shelf – instead see your recovery as another exercise. If you nail this, you’ll be back in the gym sooner, which is what you want; as a bonus, you won’t reinjure yourself immediately. Read up on your musculoskeletal system. Learn about rehab exercises, as well as supplements and their positives and negatives. Educate yourself on the potential dangers of taking too much protein as a supplement, AlgaeCal plant calcium side effects or how you have to be very careful to ensure you’re taking the right kind of Vitamin D. Learn about other techniques such as yoga or even reiki, so you understand your body’s needs better. Then when you’re back in the gym you can work smarter instead of harder.

Lesson #3: Balance Makes You Healthier

The person in any gym who the majority of people admire most is probably the one who can deadlift the heaviest weight, or the person with the fastest mile. Those are achievements to be proud of, but they don’t make the strongest or the fittest people in that gym. In fact these are only desirable goals if you’re not damaging yourself to achieve them. Balance is key to real health and fitness – it’s important to build muscle but not at the expense of dietary and mental health, for example.

If you’re having difficulty spreading your focus then a few yoga classes may be to your benefit. There are plenty of expert bodybuilders who credit yoga with helping them reach their goals. It’s worth putting in the time – and there is no better time than when your normal routine has been disrupted. Start with some gentle exercises that won’t aggravate your injury and go from there.

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