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Injured? Tips on maintaining your physical and mental fitness

soccer-673488_1920My big sports injury came as a sophomore in high school in an indoor soccer game (an off-season way of staying fresh during the Midwestern winter.) I still remember the feeling of sliding for the ball and then crashing into the wall — and another girl — with my knee.

My knee benched me for the beginning of the high-school season, a blow that hit my fragile teen psyche the hardest. I felt inferior, damaged, irrelevant.

So, when I spotted this BeWell@Stanford piece on exercising with injuries, I devoured it eagerly. Although I'm much healthier emotionally than I was as a teen, I know I want to remain active, period.

In the Q&A, Gordon Matheson, MD, PhD, a sports medicine physician, says that an injury shouldn't kill your workout: "Fortunately, programs can be devised that work around almost any musculoskeletal condition."

He also weighs in on the mental benefits of exercise:

Regular exercise has two main effects. One is that exercise builds greater capacity within your body; it increases bone, cartilage, muscle, joint and heart health; and helps manage weight. The other effect is something known as self-efficacy or confidence. Both are equally important. Even if you aren’t exercising vigorously, the fact that you are taking time to do something good for your body sets the mental stage for further development of your exercise goals. Once you incorporate exercise as a means of increasing the health of your daily life, you will experience an empowerment that helps to overcome the feelings of frustration and limitation.

The article also includes advice from Joyce Hanna, associate director of the Stanford Health Improvement Program, on remaining on track when you have to change your exercise program. For example:

Exercise keeps you aware of the state of your body. When you’re running, or exercising vigorously, you get some feedback if you’ve eaten too much or too little. Your body sends you a message if you’re dehydrated. You can feel bloated and stiff if you've had too much salt or alcohol the night before. You have trouble finishing your workout if you’ve gone without enough sleep for a number of nights. All this feedback works to help you take care of yourself and to pay attention to habits that affect your health. So it’s important to pay attention to your body if you’re not able to exercise. Don’t check out and get numb to the effects of your eating, drinking, and sleeping habits. Pay attention.

I will, thanks.

Previously: Examining the long-term health benefits for women of exercise in adolescence, Even moderate exercise appears to provide heart-health benefits to middle-aged women and Exercise and your brain: Stanford research highlighted on NIH Director's blog
Photo by skeeze

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