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What Do You Do If You Hurt Yourself Working Out?

    A workout injury can happen to anyone, from gym newbies to professional athletes. It’s true that the stronger and more experienced you are, accidents won’t happen as often, but even the best athletes can’t completely avoid workout injuries. Muscle pulls, knee injuries, sprained ankle, shin splints, wrist injuries, and tendinitis are the most common.

    If you suffer a workout injury, keep calm and ask a more experienced person to assess the situation. Depending on your injury, you may have to take your time and let your body heal. In the meantime, adjust your diet and stay active in any way you can. Most importantly, stay positive during the recovery process and focus on getting better.

    It’s essential to know how to act if an injury occurs during exercising and prevent workout injuries in the future. Read on to find out.

    Is It Injury or Soreness?

    First, let’s make sure you’re not confusing muscle soreness with an injury. Injuries are completely obvious, but more often than not, athletes become so caught up with working out that they don’t realize they’ve been injured. Then, they’ll end up confusing the pain with soreness.

    Moreover, gym newbies that get sore after working out might think they’ve been injured and quit working out for no reason.

    If you don’t warm up properly before a workout, or if you’re starting a new workout plan, your body will respond with Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness or DMOS 24 to 48 hours after exercising.

    You’ll feel like an area, or muscle group is tired, tender, achy, stiff, or burning. The soreness starts to go away with some rest, a hot bath, or some anti-inflammatory medication. If you start exercising again and warm up the sore muscles, the feeling will fade away.

    If you feel a sharp and stabbing pain in a specific spot, notice swelling, and the symptoms don’t go away after a couple of days or get worse, you’re facing an injury.

    Discomfort vs pain

    Steps to Take After an Injury 


    The first and most essential step when facing an injury is to take a deep breath and relax. What’s done is done, and now it’s important to keep calm and not freak out. Once calm, assess the injury and see if you can walk on your own. Seek help if you can’t handle the pain.

    See A Doctor

    Once you’re sure you’ve been injured, or even if you suspect it, head to the doctor. Don’t put off seeking medical attention, even if you think it’s a mild injury and will heal on its own. You may end up injuring yourself further.

    Your doctor will tell you what exactly went wrong and how long you’ll have to rest until you get back to normal, depending on the location of the injury, the severity of it, and your overall health and strength.

    Your doctor can tell you if you should continue with your routine workouts, adjust your exercises to lower-intensity ones, or stop working out altogether until you’re better. They can give you a resistance training program or refer you to a physical therapist to help you stay strong while recovering.

    Let Your Body Heal and Recover

    Listen to your body and doctor when they tell you that you need to skip a workout or two and rest. As frustrating as it can be, heading back to the gym too soon can worsen your injury and prolong your recovery period.

    Along with your doctor’s advice, keep the RICE therapy in mind, which stands for Rest, Ice, Compress, and Elevate. It means you should rest your injured body part immediately, apply ice on it for the first few days, apply pressure to the injured area and bandage it, and finally keep it elevated above your heart.

    The POLICE principle is a more detailed method that stands for Protect, Optimum Loading, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It means you should protect the injured area with rest and necessary devices if needed, such as crutches, a brace, or a splint. Then start moving the area gently after a few days and slowly increase the movement intensity. Ice, compress and elevate the area as explained in the RICE method.

    Adjust Your Diet

    Gaining weight is a legitimate concern during the recovery process. You can’t exercise like before, and you’re afraid you’ll gain back the weight you’ve worked so hard to lose.

    However, by adjusting your diet, you can maintain your weight and even lose more! First, you need to learn about the five basic food groups for a healthy life. Include plenty of protein, healthy fats, and food rich in vitamins and nutrients in your diet to help you heal faster. Minimize your liquid calorie intake and stay away from refined carbs and sugar. Load up on vegetables and fruits.

    If you need help adjusting your diet, you can refer to your doctor or use diet & weight loss apps to assist you through the journey.

    Stay Active and Adjust Your Workouts

    You can adjust your workout routine and skip exercises that aggravate the injured body part while staying active. For instance, if you have an upper-body injury like your wrist or shoulder, you can still pull off lower-body workouts, go for walks or runs, and so on. Likewise, if your knee, hip, or ankles are injured, you can focus on upper-body exercises.

    You can switch to low-impact workouts like yoga, Pilates, swimming, walking, and so on. Remember to consult your doctor or physical therapist about changing your routine.

    Stay Positive

    Try to keep a positive attitude during the recovery process, even if it takes longer than you expected. Everything will go back to normal soon.

    In the meanwhile, try to make the most of your rest time, stay as active as you possibly can, and pay attention to your mental health as much as your physical recovery.

    How to Prevent Workout Injuries?

    Warm-Up and Cool Down

    Starting your workouts with a warm-up and ending them with a cool-down is as important as the workout itself. They should last for at least 5 minutes. 

    A warm-up gradually increases your heart rate and the oxygen rate and blood flow to the muscles. It prevents injuries by loosening up the muscles and joints and increasing the elasticity of the muscles. 

    A cool-down helps bring your heart rate and body temperature back to normal.

    Don’t Overdo It

    Be honest with yourself and consider your abilities when setting your workout goals. When beginning a new exercise routine, you need to start slowly and build up the duration and intensity gradually. 

    Don’t lift weights that are too heavy, don’t continue sets longer than you can take, and stop pushing yourself too hard. Building strength and endurance takes time.

    Use Proper Form

    Other athletes at the gym, your friends, and the guy on TV don’t always know what they’re talking about. You need to learn how to do your exercises and use the gym equipment from a professional. Using lousy form when working out, like straining your knee, hunching your back, or swinging the weights, puts your body at the risk of injury.

    Take Short Breaks and a Recovery Day

    Take short breaks between your sets, and do not push through the pain. Also, even the best athletes need to take at least one day off to rest their bodies and recover. If you’re always tired, you’re overtraining. So, stop before you get hurt.


    If you’ve been stuck with the same workout routine for a long time, you have to change it because you’re putting stress on the same set of muscles and joints repetitively. That increases your risk of overuse injuries like shin splints, tendonitis, and stress fractures.

    Mix and match activities that use different movements and muscles. Go for a walk or run today, do some weight lifting tomorrow, go for a swim the day after. You get the idea.

    Wear the Right Shoes and Equipment

    It’s needless to say that you should use the proper equipment for your sport. The equipment should fit you, be in good condition, and be the right design for your sport. For instance, playing tennis in these Under Armour Running Shoes might injure you as well as they are.

    Under Armour mens Charged Assert 8 Running Shoe, Black/White, 10.5 X-Wide US
    • 4E Sizing built to better fit athletes with extra wide feet
    • NEUTRAL: For runners who need a balance of flexibility & cushioning

    Don’t forget about safety equipment like helmets, goggles, knee pads, mouth guards, and so on.  

    Hydrate and Eat Properly

    Not fueling your body enough may lead to lightheadedness, dizziness, or fatigue during workouts, increasing your risk of injuries. Focus on both pre-workout and post-workout meals and plan a healthy diet. Here are 6 Easy Ways to Eat Better for Health and Fitness. Also, hydrate before, during, and after exercising to prevent cramping and fatigue.


    Working out isn’t just about hopping on the treadmill or picking up some weights. It needs proper planning, learning the correct form, considering your body’s abilities and needs, having a healthy diet, and drinking enough water. If you miss out on any of the details, you’ll risk injuring yourself. If you’re hurt now, focus on recovering, don’t push yourself too hard, and find out what caused the problem so that you can prevent it in the future.

    Last update on 2023-11-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API


    James Wright

    James (36) has been working out since he was 15 years old. He has a home gym where he pumps iron, does bodyweight workouts and boxing. He likes sharing his experiences with others who want to build a better physique.

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