Sussex Performance Centre

Should You Train When You Are Injured?

It can happen to the best of us. We train as hard as we can, push our bodies to the limits, and those nagging aches and pains always somehow manage to turn into an injury. What to do?

Most of us will probably want to “gut it out” and continue training, but what about the consequences of not letting an injury take the time to heal?

One lesson we have learned over the years is that it is OK to train through pain, but it is never OK to train through a serious injury. So if you are injured, that is something you need to take care of right away before it turns into a chronic problem or gets worse.

If you have an injury, you’ll probably want to do whatever you can to make sure you don’t miss a workout, but this can be a catch-22. If you continue training, or return to training too soon, you can increase your chance of developing a chronic injury that may never fully go away.

On the other hand, if you take too much time off, you will lose much of what you worked so hard to build.

If you’re like us, you won’t want to miss any time at all because of an injury, so here are a few tips that will help you effectively train with an injury so that you won’t miss significant time away from the gym.


This is number one on our  list, not only because nutrition is often underrated and overlooked, but also because it’s an important factor in injury recovery.

Healing from an injury can take weeks or even months (healing time can vary from person to person), but you can dramatically accelerate the healing process by getting adequate nutrition and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Healing is largely dependent on blood supply, and the stronger the blood supply, the faster you can heal because blood supplies the injured area with important oxygen and nutrients which help the injury heal.

Certain foods can promote inflammation within the body, while others have an anti-inflammatory effect.

Avoid inflammation-promoting foods such as fried foods and processed white flour and eat more foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

Be sure to drink plenty of fresh juices made from fresh, organic, raw veggies, because raw veggies are high in important enzymes and vitamins that can speed up the healing process.

Garlic, radishes, and beets are especially helpful. You can also mix in a bit of fresh ginger; ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties and helps reduce pain and soreness.

To create an optimal healing environment and get back on your feet quicker, be sure to eat 8-10 servings of fruit and vegetables daily.

Important nutrients that aid recovery:

  • Multivitamin: Very important. Helps prevent vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Aids tissue repair.
  • Zinc: Important in tissue repair.
  • Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids: An important antioxidant which helps tissue repair and growth.
  • Manganese: Strengthens wounded tendons and ligaments.
  • BCAA’s: Help promote the healing of muscle tissue, bones, and skin.
  • EFA’s (essential fatty acids): Speed up recovery and promotes cellular health.
  • Vitamin B Complex: Helps reduce injury related stress.
  • Glucosamine Sulfate: Helps strengthen and form tendons, cartilage, ligaments, and joint fluid.
  • Calcium: Helps repair connective tissue.
  • Silica: Important for calcium absorption and connective tissue repair.

Injury Types

So how do you know if you have a real injury? Generally there are three types of injuries: acute, sub-acute, and chronic.

  • An acute injury occurs immediately, and a few examples are spraining an ankle, tearing a muscle, or breaking a leg. Poor nutrition, failure to warm up, bad lifting technique, and even bad luck can be contributing factors. These injuries are usually serious, and hard training is not recommended.
  • A sub-acute injury is one that builds up over months or years. Examples are muscle strains and various wear and tear injuries that progressively get worse.
    These can be the most frustrating injuries of all because although you can still train, you can’t train at your maximum intensity level and performance is hampered.
  • Chronic injuries can be devastating. Examples are joint injuries such as rotator cuff injury, shoulder bursitis, or tendonitis.
    These sorts of injuries must be handled with caution because just one tweak and you could end up in the operating room. Be sure to take good care of a chronic injury and follow your doctor’s instructions to the tee.

Keep in mind that recovering from injury becomes much harder as you get older.

Older muscle fibers, tendons, and ligaments need more time to recover. If you have a nagging injury, remember that age plays a very important role in determining when it is safe to return to normal activity.

Be Creative

Just because your knee hurts, for example, there is no reason you can’t find other ways to work out and stay in shape while you are doing rehab or nursing that knee injury.

At SPC we have helped hundreds of members train through injuries, and we always try to come up with new and creative ways to work muscle groups during an injury period.

The important thing is to protect the injured area until it is fully healed, while training the rest of your body as normal. A good way to do this is by doing circuit training.

Performing workouts that focus on other areas of your body will also allow you to stay fit and maintain your conditioning level while you allow the injured area to rest and heal.

For example, if you have had shoulder problems in the past and it gives you trouble, you may try to do a training session where you don’t directly target the shoulders at all, but place more emphasis on your lower body. This way you are able to maintain strength in your non-injured muscles and stay somewhat on track.

Warm Up Properly

The saying goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The same logic applies here. We have all seen many people in the gym walk in and go straight into their workout with little to no warm-up at all. Even though this is an easy habit to fall into, it is a risky one. A proper warm-up is important.

If you quickly flex or place tension on a cold muscle, you increase your risk of injury to that muscle. But if you gradually raise the temperature of the muscle and then slowly stretch it out with dynamic stretching you will help elongate the muscle, and place it in an injury-resistant state. So be sure to mobilise and warm up before you train!

As an added bonus, mobility can also help you build more muscle because it can help promote circulation and helps increase fascia elasticity.

Stay Positive

Let’s face it; injuries can be a total bummer, but research suggests that maintaining a positive, upbeat attitude when injured or rehabbing can help speed up the healing process.

So instead of looking at your injury as bad luck, or as an obstacle, think of it as an opportunity to work on and improve a weaker body part while the injured parts heal up.

It always pays to look on the bright side, so even if you are injured, stay positive and you can still make progress, even while injured.

Rehab And Prevention

We cannot understate the importance of proper injury treatment and rest, but once your pain starts to go away you’ll probably think about jumping back into hardcore training right away. 

The primary concern here is reinjury. When you miss significant time from the gym due to injury, the rapid atrophy and degeneration of your muscle tissue that takes place can put you at high risk for re-injury once you start training again.

Not only is this cycle frustrating, but it is usually preventable.

If you have a serious injury, always get the approval and recommendation of a trained professional before returning to the gym, because developing a long term injury just isn’t worth it. 

Don’t try to avoid a nagging injury. It is far better to miss two or three days now than to be forced to take two or three months off down the road.

So there you have it: all the need-to-know information about training with an injury. Make sure you apply these tips so an injury doesn’t get you down!

This article was taken from

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