Should You Train While Injured?

Here are 3 reasons why you should be training even harder!!

What are you usually told when you are injured?

“You need to rest it”

“Don’t do anything, you have to let it heal”

“You can’t keep training, it’ll just make it worse”

“You can’t train your other side, you’ll become unbalanced”

On the surface, all of these sound pretty reasonable. If you want to recover quickly and safely, this is the most logical approach right?

Well, what if I was to say this was the WORST thing you could possibly do while injured? That training through your rehab not only helps keep your strength and fitness up, but that it also works to accelerate the recovery process and prevents imbalances down the road.

Here are 3 Scientific / Evidence Based Reasons Why You Should Be Training HARDER When Injured

1.Don’t Punish Your Good Side

Even health professionals are guilty of advocating time off from training completely. Some even go so far as to recommend NOT training your good side in an attempt to reestablish “balance”.

“But, but, if you have a 10-15% difference in strength between sides you increase your risk of injury by…”

Ok. Settle down there junior. Adults are talking…

So, if I’ve got this right, you’re telling me you are deliberately trying to DETRAIN your GOOD SIDE to CATCH UP with your WEAKER SIDE???? Who thinks this backwards logic actually makes sense??

The only thing you’ll achieve here is TWO weaker sides that will be more prone to injury when you try and return to normal activity.

Here’s a pro tip

You want each side to be as strong as each other at the END of rehab. NOT THE START

I’ll repeat that again. The goal of your for both be as strong as each other at the END of your rehab. Not the beginning. I’ll give you time to let that sink in….

Secondly, the only thing you achieve by resting is losing all fitness and conditioning you did have, as well as decreasing the overall capacity for your body and tissue to handle load. Both of these an even a bigger risk for overloading the tissue when you do return back to “normal” training.

You’ll be weak, unfit and won’t be able to perform better, but hey, you’ll be in “balance”

2. Use the Magic of Cross Education

If I told you you could train your good side and it would help to make your injured side stronger, would you believe me? Or would you think it’s some sort of pseudo science BS made up? Well, rejoice, because thanks to the neuromagical wizardry that is known as Cross Education, you can!

Training your good side actually affects the opposite side and helps to offset any decreases in strength that occurs when you can’t train the affected limb directly.

It’s something physio’s have used for years in rehab. It’s something you should be using too.

So start training your good side even harder. This will have an overflow effect on to your injured side and actually help offset any strength loss and facilitate it’s recovery later.

This is where people will usually regale you with “you’re going to have one huge side one small side” or “you’re just going to become unbalanced”. In truth, you’ll be lucky to maintain strength and size on your good side (you’ll most likely still lose some) and you will attenuate losses on your injured side to the best you’re able to. Both pretty big positives in anyones book. So you have my permission to reply with “hahaha, yeah, get ($*&%”

3. Train the Chain

No movement in the body ever happens in isolation. Jumping, for example, involves the ankle, knee and hip joints, and – not surprisingly – a large number of muscle groups around and adjacent to these areas. Muscles coordinate with each other to perform specific movements and we’ve termed these coordinated groups a Kinetic Chain. Ok, stay with me here, I’m going somewhere with it…

You may have heard the term Posterior Chain when describing powerful hip extension. This posterior chain is made up of muscles such as your Hamstrings, Glute’s and Lower Back erectors and it’s the powerful coordination of these groups that add to power in a lot of sporting activities such as jumping, squatting, deadlifting, etc.

When you injure a joint, muscle or ligament, you not only affect everything in its immediate vicinity, but you also affect all the other related muscles further away in their respective Kinetic Chain.

Therefore, one of your goals in rehab is to not only prevent strength losses in the affected area, but also to promote strength in all of the muscles in the Kinetic Chain that are important for activity.

Sprain your ankle? There is evidence the Glutes can become inhibited for 6 weeks after. It’s imperative then you incorporate exercises to address all of these muscle groups. Not just focus on the injured area.

In other words, you have to TRAIN THE CHAIN. 

Also. You have 3 other fully functioning limbs!! Use them! Keep training. Keep active. There is no reason to EVER stop training and pushing yourself harder. By training hard through your rehab process you will stay fitter, stronger and return to full activity faster.

To Summarise:

Keep training your good side HARD. Keep training key muscles in the Kinetic Chain

  1. You want both sides to be strong at the end of rehab, not the start
  2. Cross Education helps mitigate strength loss on the injured side
  3. Keep the muscles in the adjacent areas and the Kinetic Chain strong

The obvious caveat to these are to consult your health professional for the appropriate exercises and loading progressions to suit YOUR own individual circumstances. If you are suffering from low back pain or neck pain, these specific rules may not apply to your situation.

If only there was a trainer, that was also physio, that was also qualified in nutrition that knew how to implement all of these things for you…?

If you want to know more about what is applicable for your individual situation, contact me for a consult today

Or join us now for the next 6 week challenge If your niggles and injuries are stopping you from making the commitment, now there’s no excuse.


Jill Cook Lecture Series Trust Me Ed, Current Concepts in Tendon Rehabilitation 2019

Ebonie Rio Lecture Series Trust Me Ed, Tendons – Load, Pain and the Brain 2019