“If your dog gets lost you don’t look for an hour then call it quits. You get your ass out there and you find that f*cking dog.”
So you’re injured. You feel like Hercules after being pulled down from Mt. Olympus, never to return and to always have only a fraction of your (what could have been) God-like strength. Well, before you start dressing in all black listening to Death Cab for Cutie and mourning your gains, let’s talk this out logically and see if we can bring a little brick and mortar to your Eeyore stick hut.
It is not the end of the world, so do what you can:
I know it feels like all hope is lost. You have trouble doing things you once excelled at. It is frustrating, and sometimes (or all the time) you just want to stop. Before you give up all hope and change into your “Golden Coral Sweats”, sit in front of the T.V and binge watch Gossip Girl; try doing what you can. We have all different types of athletes currently that have a many different types of injuries (luckily, these were not sport or gym related).
We have an athlete who had wrist surgery, so guess what? He squats and he squats often. He continues to keep his Olympic lifts going by practicing technique with the bar and weights that don’t bother his wrist. He wraps his wrist daily and practices range of motion training and grip training to prevent atrophy. He got injured, but did not let it hold him back, so instead he does what he can and he excels at it!
We have a female athlete who has a mystery spinal aliment that keeps her from most degrees of trunk flexion (You what exercises require trunk flexion? All the best types). Instead of sitting around and feeling defeated, she does what she can to keep her cardio up on the bike and rower, try to keep her range of motion through yoga, and kills some upper body bro days.
We have another female that has a chronic lower back issue, and she is probably one of the hardest workers in the gym. She does what she can to increase strength in the surrounding muscle groups and when it gets to that fine line of discomfort and pain, she switches to metabolic conditioning exercises.
The point being, you might not have the use of your whole body, but neither did Lt. Dan and he still jumped his ass out of a boat and swam..
Be smart about your recovery:
Follow the first rule by all means, do what you can and do it well. However, remember that you are working with a couple cards short of a full deck, so mind your limits. This is an interesting predicament because you have to push yourself in order to overcome and get better, but if you push yourself too hard you are going to take a lot longer to recover or possibly make the injury worse. The bottom line is to figure out the fine line between discomfort and pain. Push yourself to your limit for that day, stop, and recover, and then come in day after day and try and increase that limit just a little more until it is gone.
Treat yo self:
Pay special attention to these areas during your time of recovery. Follow a couple of rules of thumb in order to try and speed up the process (these all depend on the type of injury. Obviously if you have a compound fracture heat and ice are not going to do much…)
- Heat/Ice after and before workouts to try and increase blood flow/decrease swelling
- Get taped up to help alleviate some of the stress on the muscle or joint
- Wear wraps, braces, or supportive gear to take a little load off
- Adapt your workouts in order to compensate for your injury
- If you have an injured leg muscle and ass to grass squatting hurts, maybe don’t go full depth (I don’t say that often, but if it hurts, don’t do it…)
- Increase your time doing Range of motion training, stretching, and rolling
- For strained muscle or a sprain this would be a bad idea as the muscle or tendon is already in a stretched and damaged position.
Nutrition plays a role:
Just because you’re injured does not mean you get to eat garbage–If anything you need to make sure you are eating even better than when you are full capacity.
- Fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocados and fish oils can help with inflammation, so try and increase these during healing times.
- Avoid lots of processed foods or foods high in trans-fats as those can promote inflammation
- Foods such as berries, pineapple, turmeric, and garlic also help decrease inflammation, so make sure and work these into your daily macros
- Supplement with Vitamin a and c, zinc, and copper as well as arginine, glutamine, and HMB. These have all been shown to have a positive effect on healing.
- *Make sure and consult with your physician/dietitian if you have any prior medical condition or are pregnant before starting a supplementation regiment.
Getting injured is both a physical and a mental battle. Make sure you use the network of support around you and talk with your coach and fellow athletes during your recovery, because, often times, the mental battle can be more damaging than the physical one.
It is easy to look up to top tier athletes, but in my opinion, it is the injured athletes that come back full force that are the true inspiration to their sport. To be on top, get cast to the bottom, and tooth-and-nail climb your way back to the top, well that is a victory worth talking about!
The bottom line, don’t get injured, but if you do, know that it is not the end of the world and that it will take hard work, but soon you will be back on top!