Weekend Questions: Injured! What to do?

Q: Hey Rich and Gary! I recently had my spring break and decided to take the week off from the gym after reading a few bits online about how taking rest weeks are actually good for your body. Plus, it was spring break. Why not! However, when I came back, I thought I had enough in my body to do the same amount of weight I was lifting prior to the break. Unfortunately, I ended up hurting my back while doing bench press (it is due to the back arc I created). What am I supposed to do? I did finish that workout, though I felt much more limited and had a little bit of pain.

Before we answer this excellent question, we want to apologize for the lack of content. Gary has not been active for a few weeks now due to him spending time with his wonderful family, but I also need to carry the load more. Our readers expect quality content, and we should provide for them. With that said, we are still trying to push as much good, informational, and helpful fitness/health/well-being articles for you guys to gloss over.

All of that is finally out of the way. Let’s begin to answer the question:

I injured myself at the gym. What now?

Well, for our reader, the first thing we have to say is that you made a terrible decision to continue your workout after hurting your back. We will assume you were doing chest day or otherwise a full upper-body day. Whatever it may be, you absolutely used your back for the rest of the workout and risked injuring yourself further. It isn’t anything to be ashamed of, as many people make that mistake, but we need to get it straight with you: do not do any more work if you feel a sharp, stingy-like injury anywhere in your body. It could be a minor tear, and lifting after the fact will only further that injury.

None of that matters now, though. You are injured. This means you cannot hit the gym. Point blank period. I am unsure the specific details of your injury, as only you could provide that, but it sounds like it affects your lifting significantly if you were able to feel it. You need a break from the gym. I know it sounds ridiculous to take more time out, but I assure you that taking this time to rest is much more beneficial than any time you would have spent in the gym. It just is not worth it.

The way I see it, you may be out a couple of weeks. You are very likely not going to be making enough progress with lifting to make the trip to the gym worthwhile in that span, at least considering the injury. Take the time to rest. If anything, you should be able to do cardio a week or so into your resting period. This will offset the feeling that you are wasting your time, which I am sure many of our readers get. Do some light cardio, but most importantly listen to your body. If you are receiving negative signals from your body, like unusual body aches or soreness after exercise, rest it a bit more as it is not ready for the work you are putting in.

You should only be lifting after your body feels completely fine. Keep listening to it and make effort to see where it is at. Do some light stretching to see if the pain is still there. While you’re at it, I recommend doing the same body movements you use to life (ie. pretend you are bench pressing without the bar) just to test out your range of motion. If you still feel anything there, as a rule of thumb, it is best to rest even more.

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