For out­door enthu­si­asts and ath­letes, injury is avoid­able but, often, inevitable. Whether it’s a major injury that side­lines you for an entire sea­son or some­thing minor that takes you out of the game for a few weeks, it can be tough to keep an upbeat mind­set when you can’t do what you love. Wan­na beat the injury blues and return to your sport full-force? Here’s how.

©istockphoto/gremlin

Don’t Neglect Phys­i­cal Therapy
Depend­ing on the injury, you may be pre­scribed a round of phys­i­cal ther­a­py. Take advan­tage of this won­der­ful resource. Think of it as essen­tial­ly hav­ing your very own per­son­al train­er, only they’re train­ing your body to heal instead of per­form­ing. If your PT is worth their salt, the per­for­mance aspect will come lat­er as you start to progress and build strength.

Can’t afford a ton of PT ses­sions or your insur­ance lim­its your num­ber of vis­its? That’s okay. Many of the exer­cis­es your PT will have you do can be done at home or at your gym. Be straight with them by say­ing you can only come once a week or once every two weeks, then ask for work­sheets and plans to do on your own. They’ll under­stand and they’ll hold you accountable.

Swim. Seri­ous­ly, Swim Like It’s Your Job
Par­tic­u­lar­ly ther­a­peu­tic for knee injuries, swim­ming is the per­fect low-impact car­dio­vas­cu­lar work­out. Clear it with your doc­tor and phys­i­cal ther­a­pist first, then buy some gog­gles and get going.

Not sure where to find a local lap pool? Check out your local recre­ation­al cen­ters. They typ­i­cal­ly have lap swim and their prices (for res­i­dents) are usu­al­ly much low­er than more high-end gyms.

Go on Adven­tures (Even If You Can’t Ful­ly Participate)
An irri­tat­ed ten­don in your hand from climb­ing? Torn ACL after an epic ski week­end? Shin splints after a big race? It hap­pens. If you’re out of the game for a bit, that doesn’t mean you have to stop attend­ing events or social­iz­ing. In fact, con­tin­u­ing to hang with your out­doorsy friends is good for your men­tal health and will help you to cope.

Friends going away for a ski week­end? While they’re on the slopes, hit the mas­sage par­lor and hole up in a cozy cof­fee shop. Maybe meet them for drinks on the moun­tain. Just because your body can’t do what you’re used to it doing doesn’t mean you have to become invalid. Get out and explore all there is to do when you’re not obses­sive­ly prac­tic­ing your sport.

Lis­ten to Your Body First
If you have a major injury, every­one will have advice for you. Your doc­tor, your best friend, your dirt­bag bud­dies, the dude on the street who notices you have a limp. While well-mean­ing, these peo­ple are not you. Their advice may be good gen­er­al­ly speak­ing but, in the end, all injuries are unique.

That being said, lis­ten to your body, your doc­tor, and your phys­i­cal ther­a­pist first. You’ll notice that lis­ten­ing to your body comes before your doc­tor or PT. You know your­self and your body bet­ter than any­one. If you think you need more rest, a dif­fer­ent treat­ment, or that you’re ready to go hard­er, then rest it, seek it, do it. That being said, remem­ber that your doc­tor and your PT are pro­fes­sion­als, com­mit­ted to get­ting you the best care they can give.

Your body is smart and mirac­u­lous. It knows what it needs. Pay atten­tion to it.

Con­sid­er Alter­na­tive Medicine
Mod­ern med­i­cine is amaz­ing. Ortho­pe­dic sur­geons, podi­a­trists, and a vari­ety of spe­cial­ists have so much to offer. You should 100 per­cent be con­sult­ing with a spe­cial­ist, par­tic­u­lar­ly if you have a major injury. How­ev­er, sup­ple­ment­ing your care with less tra­di­tion­al meth­ods may be a good choice for you.

Con­sid­er acupunc­ture, mas­sage, or reflex­ol­o­gy as an alter­na­tive treat­ment. You may even want to con­sult a herbal­ist to see what foods, herbs, and vit­a­mins can help your heal­ing process.