I was reminded this week how much getting injured sucks.
While I was at Brazilian Jiu-jitsu practice the other night, I hurt my forearm so bad that I haven’t been able to move it properly for days.
I’m not sure what’s wrong with it, but hopefully it recovers soon as I go crazy when I can’t workout.
It’s been about a week so far and it’s going to be at least one more if not longer before I can lift again.
With the amount of pain that I’m in with my arm right now, lifting weights or doing anything physical with it is out of the question.
While I haven’t had a serious injury in some time before this one, I have had many over the years.
I’ve suffered through multiple knee injuries requiring surgery, broken bones and every kind of sprain on every body part a human can get during my life.
The question of how to stay motivated when you get injured is something you never think about until you actually get injured.
When you have an injury, it’s easy to start feeling sorry for yourself and give up on the progress you’ve made.
You tell yourself that you’re not really quitting because you have the injury as an excuse.
You might even be relieved that you don’t have to spend all that time in the gym anymore.
It probably won’t surprise you to hear me say that being injured is not an excuse to give up!
Professional athletes are hurt constantly. Do you think they give up? No way. They do what they can while letting their injury heal, but they don’t sit on the couch for 6 months and watch reruns of Columbo (great show).
With my extensive experience of dealing with injuries, I’ve had a lot of practice on staying motivated while injured.
I’m going to give you 5 tips below to help you stay motivated through an injury, so you can stay on track and stay in the game. No matter how long you are injured for, these tips will help you keep your insanity until you are back to health.
# 1- Do what you can when you can
This is going to depend on the severity of your injury however, short of something totally catastrophic, there should always be something you can do.
I am going to use my current forearm injury as an example. I cannot do anything with my right arm, especially pulling movements.
That does not mean that I can’t do anything. The rest of my body works fine so I can use that. I just went for a 3-mile walk and I will be doing some ab work later.
I could easily just tell myself “hey Dan, You can’t do everything you want to so you may as well do nothing until your arm heals” and be done with it.
That would set me back dearly. Instead of losing a few gains with my upper body, I would lose gains that I’ve made all over.
Why should the rest of my body be punished just because a very small body part is injured?
The point is that you can always do something.
If you can’t use your arms, you can use your legs and vice versa.
If you can’t walk, you can get a band or hand gripper while you’re in bed and work on your upper body.
Doing what you can when you can while injured will ensure that your transition back to your active lifestyle is as smooth as possible when you are fully healed.
# 2- Stay on your diet
This is something that you can always do.
When we get injured, we get depressed. I know I certainly do.
Everything was going great and then out of nowhere, I can’t move my right arm. I certainly didn’t plan or expect that.
It’s easy to just say screw it and relax a bit. Eat a few things I wouldn’t usually eat or go off of my diet all together.
That will undoubtedly cause weight and fat gain that I don’t want.
I will have to train at least twice as hard when I am back to full health to get where I was before the injury.
Why should you or I do that to ourselves?
It might be easy to fall off the diet right now when you’re injured, but just think about how miserable you will feel down the road.
It’s said that every week off of your diet takes two weeks on your diet to cancel it out. I have found that to be quite accurate.
Staying on your diet will help you to stay in the best shape possible without being able to work out like you usually do.
It will help tremendously to maintain the hard work and gains you’ve worked so hard for.
Don’t let them slip away.
Whatever you do, stay on your diet while recovering from an injury.
# 3- Stay current
This one can be difficult. When I say stay current, I mean to stay up on whatever physical activity you were doing before you got injured.
If you are a bodybuilder, stay current by watching bodybuilding videos and reading bodybuilding books or magazines.
Don’t just give up on it totally because you can’t do it.
If you do yoga and can’t do it because of your injury- read blogs, watch videos or talk to others about it.
Make sure you keep it somewhere in your mind. Don’t just blank it out.
Regardless of how much you love to do it, it might still be difficult to go back to it.
Many people quit things permanently after injuries, even if they loved it.
It happens in Brazilian Jiu-jitsu all the time. People will get hurt for a year and don’t spend a single second thinking about it. Then they wonder why they aren’t motivated to do it again.
Keep up your interest and motivation by being as close to your activity/interest as possible without actually doing it.
# 4- Stay positive
When dealing with an injury, you have to stay positive.
You have to do whatever you can to avoid the negative self-talk.
When you’re sitting around your house because you can’t workout, it’s easy to start getting negative.
It’s easy to start feeling bad for yourself.
Injuries are depressing. Especially for people that are physically active.
I’ve known people that ruined their lives following an injury. They let themselves get into such a dark hole that they never got out of it again.
You need to stay positive. Read positive books, watch positive YouTube videos and listen to positive podcasts.
Flood your brain with positivity. As much as possible.
You will not have the typical outlet of exercise to release your endorphins, so you need to find another way.
Staying positive will help you do that.
You will have to juice yourself up over and over, but it doesn’t matter.
The important thing is that you keep your mind in the right place and don’t let yourself be like so many others that quit mentally when they get hurt.
Stay in the game.
# 5- Remember that it’s only temporary
I remember the second and third time that I tore the meniscus in my knee doing Brazilian Jiu-jitsu
I tore it twice within the same year.
After the first surgery, I spent six months doing physical therapy only to immediately tear it again the first day back to Brazilian Jiu-jitsu.
Can you imagine the frustration I felt?
My knee was injured for almost a year straight. There were so many things that I couldn’t do. I could barely move it.
I hurt my knee about as bad as someone can.
I remember lying in bed one day thinking that the pain would last forever.
I honestly feared that I would never recover and return to the activities I love so much.
Well, I did return. Through years and months of hard work my knee is almost back to full capacity.
I can do everything that I want with it.
That injury taught me to remember that injuries are temporary.
Obviously, some can linger forever, but I am referring to the average injury that people get during their lifetime.
Even people with major injuries typically recover fully at some point.
When you are injured, remind yourself that it’s only temporary. It will not be forever.
Be patient and focus on all the things you are going to do once your injury heals.
It will keep your spirits up.
Don’t let an injury keep you down
Most injuries you get will be relatively minor.
It might be a few days or weeks in most cases to recover.
In the grand scheme of your life, it’s not a ton of time.
It’s a dangerous time though for losing motivation and can be detrimental if not handled properly.
You must do what you can to keep your motivation up with an injury.
Now that you have my 5 tips for doing just that, I hope that you are able to put them to use if you are ever injured.
I hope that you aren’t, but the odds are good that you will be at some point if you work out.
If you follow these tips, I know that you will be in a far better place when your injury heals than you would have been if you didn’t follow them.
I’ve had to learn that the hard way.
P.S. How do you stay motivated when dealing with an injury? I’d love to hear your answers, questions and comments below!