Training with an Injury

We’ve all been there – you’re making steady progress, learning new moves left and right, nailing stuff you’d never think you could do and then – BAM! You injure yourself. Suddenly you start panicking, wondering how bad it actually could be, which leads into the anxiety inducing spiral of thoughts that start to include thinking of all the time away from class, and lost progress, and how soon you can jump right back in and continue training again. Here are a few simple tips anyone can follow on training with an injury, should you ever find yourself in this unfortunate situation:

DON’T: Push through the pain – Muscle soreness from working out is okay, pain is NOT.
DO: Listen to your body – stop when it hurts.

DON’T: Assume everything is fine if you feel pain.
DO: Consult with a doctor to find the source of the pain and reason for it.

DON’T: Become sedentary.
DO: Train what is not injured and does not exacerbate the injury (within reason).

DON’T: Be unreasonable about your injury – you don’t want to throw yourself back into something your injured area is not ready to do yet.
DO: Focus on recovery & the long term.

DON’T: Rush.
DO: Rest & gradually come back to old exercises when healed.

Sometimes we find that our injuries are caused by pre-existing problems or underlying conditions in which case the injury is a symptom, not the main issue. In these situations, it’s best to take care of the underlying issue in addition to the injury as a preventative care step. As for seeking treatment, I’m a strong advocate for the physical therapy/chiropractic care route – but please do not hesitate to see a specialist if something is really bothering you – you know your body best, and when something isn’t right you’ll feel it. I initially was seen at urgent care for an injury, was x-rayed, and told I was fine and given a topical gel for pain. I still knew something was wrong – so I got an MRI – inconclusive, only showing some edema & bursitis. It took me over 6 months of having people including doctors assure me I was fine over and over, until my knee was fully popped out for days at a time to the point I couldn’t walk on it. Finally I went to see an orthopedist, who discovered my entire kneecap had been dislocating for months. Sweet validation that I wasn’t crazy. Followed by 3 months of PT to strengthen my quad muscle and stabilize the knee cap’s supporting tendons. What did I learn from this? Listen to your body, advocate for yourself, and see a specialist until you get answers, a solution, and relief. Once you’ve reached a point where you are medically cleared to work out the injured body part again, come back gradually, be gentle with yourself (both physically and emotionally) and understand that it will take time to reach the level you were once at again safely and without re-injury. Slow and steady will make your aerial and exercise life much longer than a string of unhealed injuries, and by listening to your body, you’ll be dancing well into your later years with vigor.