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Can I Work Out With an Injury?

Working out is a stressful body activity. Beachbody programs like Insanity, P90X and Turbofire are no exception to the rule. In fact, they’re designed to introduce a certain amount of bodily stress. The kind of stress that makes you stronger and forces your body to adapt while making it better, more efficient and stronger.

But with any kind of stress or work comes a certain element of risk. Sooner or later, inevitably,chances are good you’ll enjoy some kind of injury at some point. Even I’ve enjoyed my share with a couple wrist tweaks and a current,  long-lasting lower thumb injury (I’ll never forgive you, snowmobile trip 2012).

As a note, I’m not talking about post-workout soreness. That’s NOT an injury per say and working out with sore muscles doesn’t hurt anything– may even help as you encourage blood flow, which helps ease the sore. No, soreness isn’t an injury. As another note, I’m not a doctor. If you have serious injury concerns, see one. Their advice will trump mine every time.

So with that disclaimer stuff out of the way… a lot of people wonder if they should work out when they DO sustain an injury?

I’ll cut right to it: the general rule of thumb is this: If it doesn’t hurt when you’re using it in your workout, go for it.  That comes with all kinds of exceptions, though. I mean, many moves call on many different body parts to work in conjunction with one another. For example- a shoulder injury might keep you from doing shoulders, but it could also keep you from doing push ups, despite pushups being focused on chest. So really, the key here is to play it smart.

To put it another way: Only idiots work through serious injury shouting the motto “No Pain, No Gain”. When that shoulder goes out, when you tear that MCL, when physical therapy becomes mandatory… what good did working through that pain do? Nothing. It put you out to pasture. It shut you down. It closed the book on you… maybe for the foreseeable future. So yeah… don’t be an idiot.

Avoid Injury… That Or Let the Injury Heal

No one wants to get injured (except me as a kid…scars had serious street/lady cred). Overall, injuries stink and always seem to sneak in when you’re enjoying some serious momentum.

So first off, do your best to avoid injury. The best way to avoid injury is to know your limits and watch your form. Don’t load up those heavy weights to soothe your ego. Don’t turn your back into a sideways “U” when doing squats. Good form and smart choices go a long way in avoiding tears, strains and pops that will take you down for weeks or months.

If you DO get injured (and in most cases, this will be soft tissue stuff (connective, muscle, etc.) listen to your body and see how it responds. Working on that injured part will never allow healing. Even in a best case scenario, you’re looking at continued discomfort. Give the injury a rest, roll it out, see a doc and go from there.

But if you’re injured, don’t despair. There can be ways to keep activity going around certain injuries. Tony “Functional Fitness” Horton is famous for saying (after he tore his bicep in some crazy-man crucifix ring maneuver), “If lower is injured, work upper- if you can’t work upper, work lower”. That’s a pretty good rule of thumb to go by.

If you’re in the unfortunate situation where you can do neither, know that sitting it out and allowing your body to repair will allow you, in the long run, to continue your journey. Working out with a torn ligament or hurt shoulder? Not so much.

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