When You’re Less Than 100%

The string of people I know suffering from summer colds as well as persistent injuries influenced this column. Hopefully this will lend some insight into your ailment

Should I exercise when I’m sick? That depends on how sick you are and how well you know your body. If you feel slightly under the weather with a little runny nose for example, you’ll most likely be alright to do a light workout. But if you’re feeling light headed or have body aches, I would suggest against it. Also, you are your own best judge as to how sick you are, and over time hopefully you will get to know your body and be able to judge weather or not it’s a good idea. If you push yourself to workout out when you’re really sick, you will only worsen your condition and then be out for an even longer period of time. It’s a delicate balance and usually only experience will lead you to make the correct decision.

How do I rehabilitate an injury? If you strain a muscle, the best protocol is RICE, which stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This will help the inflammation to go down and allow the strain to heal. During the healing phase which will vary in length according to the severity of the strain, you will want to refrain from strenuous activity of the injured body part. However, light exercise after an initial rest period is recommended to keep the area active in order to heal faster. For example, if you strained your calf muscle, you would probably want to refrain from running, but slow to moderate walking would encourage the healing process. Once the pain has subsided, slowly increase the exercise intensity. If you have doubts, seek the advice of a doctor or trainer for your specific strain.

When is it better to use heat to treat an injury? Heat promotes healing by increasing blood flow to the affected area. Ice, however, is important during the initial inflammation phase of an injury and thereafter following any bouts of exercise which may cause inflammation. Heat can be applied in between icing or before bed provided the affected site is not inflamed. I’ve gathered from my own experience after straining my low back during training, that once the inflammation disappears but the soreness is still present, heat can prove beneficial. My back continued to hurt for three days following the initial injury, but upon application of a heating pad before bed on the fourth night, my back was back to normal the next day. Use caution with the heat setting and I don’t recommend sleeping with the heating pad on throughout the night.

Remember, if you have reservations about the severity of your illness or injury, you should seek the professional opinion of your physician.

Expert Author Melissa Allen

Melissa Allen is a certified personal trainer, Blackbelt & fitness consultant, as well as the owner of Optimum Condition— personal fitness training and kickboxing instruction. She is a self-syndicated columnist and a member of the San Diego Press Club and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists