Training When Injured

By Physiotherapist, Nate Chan

I am injured. What should I do?

If you have or had an injury in the past, you may have been wondering how much training you should be doing without aggravating your injury. 

The general rule of thumb I recommend is a strategic and progressive loading. In simple terms, avoiding sharp increases in frequency, volume or intensity. I have learned this both from my clinical experience and the work of Adam Meakins, a fellow physiotherapist in the UK. Adam has simplified two common behaviours of an injury athlete: avoiders and endurers. 

  • Avoiders: the athletes who avoid and do NOT enough during an injury

  • Endurers: the athletes who endure the pain and do TOO much during an injury

After sustaining an injury it is important to rest and modify. During this ‘rest’ time I would recommend keeping the frequency of training the same or the number of training sessions per week the same. However, reducing the volume (total reps and sets) and intensity (physical and mental effort) of the workouts. What this means is that you can still enjoy training and the benefit of training without imposing more risk on the current injury. 

For the Avoiders: The purpose of keeping your training frequency the same or similar, whilst reducing your total volume and intensity is to safely train whilst obtaining all the exercise benefits. Some of these benefits are muscle hypertrophy, improving your mood, boosting your immune system, and increasing cardiovascular fitness. Once you are able to commence full training at least it won’t be a shock to the system.

For the Endurers: Less is more. Less is sometimes better. What I mean is less in regards to volume and intensity. This is termed modified training. This allows you to rest to allow the injury to recover. No one goes to work 5 days a week without sleep. Sleep is rest. Your body (injury) needs rest too. 

Takeaways

The key takeaway is to continue training whilst supporting your recovery journey. The aim is to reduce sharp increases in training load to return to the field, court, track or gym. However, respecting the body’s need for rest and recovery is of the utmost importance. If you draw yourself closer to the middle of this spectrum during training with an injury you would gain a good outcome and function. 

Please speak to a health professional. This is a guide as an injury varies amongst individuals and depends upon many factors (training history, previous injuries, stress levels, weather and many more). You can book in for a telehealth session with one of our physios online or call to book in at 8599 9811.