5 Strategies to Deal With an Injury


If you identify yourself as an athlete or fitness enthusiast, the scorn of injury in the form of a strain, sprain, break, or tear can leave you with a feeling of depression, loss, and extreme frustration.  I know this feeling all too well from two decades of elite athletic involvement.  I was voted “Most Likely To Have A Cast” in my grade eight yearbook and, 17 years later, I sit here once again casted from a recent ski injury.  The initial anger never goes away, but my coping strategies and outlook have significantly improved.

I can honestly say that I am an expert at modifying my routine to make the best out of the situation.  The worst thing you can do is fall out of your routine and think all is lost.  Of course you are going to have every Tom, Dick, and Harry telling you to relax and skip the gym but knowing this better prepares you to fight against the grain.  Focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.  We tend to work on things we are good at and an injury often provides opportunity to work on weaker or neglected areas.  Athletes hate rest, but a decrease in intensity might be exactly what your body needs to end up on top.  The intensity may have to be modified because, at the end of the day, preventing further injury and allowing yourself to heal are of utmost importance.  Dealing with health care professionals that have a background in sport can not be undervalued.  Athletes and elderly are entirely different populations and finding a doctor or physiotherapist that understands how important it is to get back to your regular routine makes all the difference.

Here are some strategies I’ve personally found to be beneficial in dealing with an injury:

  1. Listen to your body.   We are stubborn folk and likely the worst patients, but this is one time that the “no pain, no gain” mentality does not hold true.
  2. Maintain your frequency.  If you hit the gym four days a week after work, keep it up!  You might not be there for the same amount of time but I’m sure your loved ones will appreciate your smiling face home a bit earlier.  This will ease the transition back and ensure you don’t fall off the wagon.
  3. Be a little more cautious with your nutrition intake.  I would suggest that you cut back on your energy fuel (carbohydrates), specifically refined sources (white bread, pasta, sugars), and really watch your intake of “extras” and treats during this time.  You will find you are not as hungry anyways; pay particular attention to those cues.
  4.  Try new exercises.  Look online for a new upper body program if your lower body is hurting or try pilates to focus on your core strength that is often neglected because you’re spending too much time on your legs.  Water is often a great medium for injuries and deep water running intervals are some of the toughest cardio I’ve done to date.
  5. Stay positive!  Attitude determines everything.  Give yourself a day to mope and then strategize and have fun planning your modified routine.

I’m back at it tomorrow, look for the girl with the big smile and the cast, cycling, working on my shoulders, and tightening that tummy!  With every injury comes a new opportunity to build both your body and your character.


Kristen Vidlak is a registered dietician and personal trainer. She grew up as a competetive gymnast and later attended the university of Maine on a full athletic scholarship where she was captain of their record breaking women’s track & field team. Currently, Kristen enjoys modelling and competing in fitness events throughout North America. Her experiences in athletic training and competing, coupled with her dietetic education give Kristen a unique and well-rounded perspective when it comes to health in fitness.

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