We’ve all been there. Hit it a little bit too hard at the gym, ran a few too many miles and put yourself out of action. Depending how severe the injury it could be for a week or many months. Last year I suffered a dislocated shoulder during a mountain biking accident and unsurprisingly this put me out of the gym for a few months (though I kept on spinning my legs!).
If you suffer an injury that is going to take more than two weeks to recover, your physical fitness and strength is likely to suffer especially when it comes to muscle mass and strength.
While some degree of muscle loss is inevitable there are a few tips that can help you maintain as much muscle strength as possible. Here they are:
Maintain Your Protein Intake
When you reduce the amount of exercise you’re doing the natural response is to reduce your calorie intake, and that’s the right decision to make whether you’re trying to cut or bulk up. However, your body needs considerable calories to heal successfully and more importantly requires a lot of protein. Consider that the muscle rebuilding process specifically requires protein to function and it’s clear why this is important. We’d recommend adding a protein shake into your mix by brands like SCI-MX or Reflex Nutrition.
Eat Healthy Foods
It’s very easy to get complacent during downtime from the gym, especially if you’re feeling a little sorry for yourself. While your local takeaway or pizza joint might enjoy your business 7 nights a week your body and your recovery journey won’t. While I’m not here to suggest you shouldn’t treat yourself every now and then, fatty and nutritionally poor foods can have a negative impact on your recovery and even slow it down.
Drink Plenty of Water
Hydration is the key to any athlete’s success, whether you’re a bodybuilder, cyclist or rower. Despite all of us knowing this it’s very easy to let good habits fall by the wayside during illness and recovery.
While you might not be running a marathon every week, your levels of hydration play a critical role in the healing process and gives your body the extra help it needs recovery rapidly and with lower stress levels.
Find the Balance
During recovery it’s important to find the balance between resting up and maintaining some level of movement. Obviously if you start using a damaged part of your body before it’s had a chance to recover at all you can increase the chance of damaging it more. On the other hand resting for too long can cause your muscles to stiffen up and make the recovery process that much harder.
If you can, try the focus on normal use of a muscle, if you’ve hurt your knee but can still walk without hurting yourself, that’s significantly better than nothing.