We hear it all the time, “I can’t make my session today because “I’m injured or “My injury is ‘playing up.’” or “I’ve been told not to exercise because my back/shoulder/knee etc is sore, and resting is the recommendation”. These are the two main reasons we get in the clinic as to why people cancel their appointments. In this months blog, I’m going to tell you why this mentality needs to change and we need to stop telling people to rest.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes the body needs to rest in order to get better and heal however, with an injury that doesn’t mean we have to rest the whole body. You can still get in an effective training session by manipulating the exercises you complete during the session as to not ‘flare-up’ the injured area. Whether that be sitting down to stop back pain, only using one limb rather than both or maybe a session that is less intense than normal. At the end of the day, doing something is going to be better than doing nothing. If the session is done correctly and by someone with the right training, such as an Accredited Exercise Physiologist (AEP) or Strength and Conditioning (S &C) Coach, it can even help reduce the time you are off sport/work.

Take a knee injury, for example, you may have to rest and wait for ligaments, tendons etc to heal, but if possible, you should be exercising the hip and ankle on the injured side. By not using a limb, it becomes weak and deconditioned which is a major risk factor for future injury. If you take the time to exercise and keep strength in the hip and ankle, once the knee is healed you only have to take the time to strengthen it up to pre-injury levels. With an upper-body injury, there is no reason that you can’t train the lower body and focus on areas of weakness. This will make you better overall and a more robust athlete or person. By getting a ‘head start’ on your rehabilitation you can reduce the amount of time you are off work/sport and get back to what you love doing much quicker. 

As an industry, we need to stop telling people/athletes to “rest” as they see this as doing nothing. We need to start using the term, “manipulate” as I feel this is a better term and encourages athletes/people to keep exercising as best as they can, ultimately increasing the rehabilitation process.