Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. -Lou Holtz
So you came in hot, got strong as sin, making great progress and turning your body in to a brick house. Then one day (or over several days, weeks, and months) Miley rides in on her wrecking ball and jacks everything up, your house is in shambles and you don’t know what to do.
If you are in the game long enough, an injury or two is going to happen. Could be as little as a strained muscle, a small muscular imbalance, or some bursitis. On the other hand, it could be a herniated disc, a blown ACL, or torn meniscus. The point I want to make is that there are ways around all of these and the quote above holds true even if you are pushing forward at 15% capacity!
Life as you knew it is not over
It might seem like it today and maybe tomorrow, but you will get back to pushing weights and slaying PRs, it is just going to take time.
Injury in general teaches you to appreciate every moment. I’ve had my share of injuries throughout my career. It’s humbling. It gives you perspective. No matter how many times I’ve been hurt, I’ve learned from that injury and come back even more humble. – Troy Polamalu
As we take a step back and begin the process of healing and correction, this is a great time to take it all in, learn from whatever mistakes may have caused this issue, and take this time to begin anew and build back bigger and better than before.
Although it is a pain in the ass to take a couple steps back, it can also be an excellent time to work on your weaknesses and muscular imbalances that may have helped lead to whatever catastrophic event that derailed you from training.
So, that being said, take a couple of steps to ensure that your time down is not wasted:
Do what you can, however you can, and when you can
As a coach, watching someone execute a lift with textbook form is like watching Forest run for the first time, you can’t help but tear up a little and enjoy the moment. That being said, if you not firing on all cylinders, I doubt your putting out all the horse power.
-Do what you can, however you can:
This simply means, if you have dead lifts programmed and it hurts to go all the way to the floor, put it up on some blocks and continue to lift (This is just an example and can be done for any lift). Lets keep whatever range of motion we have strong as we correct the range of motion we currently do not have, this will help us get back to 100% a lot faster than neglecting the motion all together and spending months trying to get all of the strength back.
I am who I am; no more, no less.
-Do it when you can:
Some injuries take longer than others to heal, this is just fact. Some injuries also take longer amounts of time between sessions to recover from the session before hand. Do not let this deter you from getting in and doing what you can, when you can. You might come in one day and squats just are not going to happen, because your hip injury is flared up and causing some pretty serious pain. So, take that day and do what you can, sticking with your pulls and upper body movements, and come in the next day and try again for squats. Remember, this is a time for healing, not being hard headed and continuing to push through pain (there is a time and place for that), so take it to a point and call it good, allowing your body to get better slowly but surely!
Push to a point and stop
Touched on a little bit in the finishing paragraph above, but thought it might need a little more explanation, because it is not always straight forward.
Rehab is painful, it sucks, and no one wants to do it, but you have to push it to get better. Now I say this with a grain of salt because you want to push to a point that does not re-injure the site of affliction. The best way I can describe it is the difference between the site being sore, uncomfortable, and fatigued (this is okay and is much what your lower back feels like after a solid deadlift session) vs. the site being painful, inflamed (noticeably), or any other alarming affects (such as discoloration).
Although some of us may just be doing corrective exercise or working on a new program the same applies. Say you just started squatting more frequently (4-6 days a week) and are having some knee pain (usually a little patella tendinitis due to increased volume and possible irritation to that area), well if you come in and it is super painful to squat heavy weights, try and remember that this is a marathon to build your body, not a sprint and take the day to work on squat mechanics and technique.
The other case is usually a sore or fatigued lower back due to increased squatting or pulling. Best advice is to pick days that you will go heavy and pick days that you will work on technique and form (better technique tends to lend itself towards increased weights in the long run, so don’t worry, we are still working toward the same goal and will not lose strength in the long run).
Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble.
Find those that can help and do what is necessary to recover
This is the hard part. We know we have an injury, we have stopped doing what aggravates and irritates the area, but now what? The truth is that without doing anything (besides time and rest) most minor injuries will get better with weeks or months of time. Will you get the same injury again, most likely yes. Did you learn anything from this injury or correct the underlying issue, most likely no. Wouldn’t you instead like to see that same injury cut in half and be able to benefit from it and come back better than before (if you say no, I don’t really know how to talk with you)…
Find those that can help:
-Look for those professionals that are good at what they do and can lend your body the help it needs. Look for people that deal in:
- Chiropractic services (Thankful that we have one on staff)
- Dry needle
- Muscle Stim.
- Cross frictional Massage
- Massage Therapy (deep tissue or myofascial, this is a massage with a purpose)
- Corrective Exercise (We can get you started down that path)
Look for someone that uses result driven therapies to help you get you to where you need to be. Look for a professional that does not try to sell you some B.S or tells you only they can fix your aches and pains and look for someone that gives you what you need, when you need it, and teaches you how to help yourself prevent the problem in the future. Know that every single person is different and not all therapies work the same on each individual so keep that in mind while trying out different modalitites, but also remember this when someone says “This works for everyone”, because if they say that, you might want to rethink using their practice or gym.
Do what you can for yourself:
-This simply means do everything you can (that is not outside your expertise) to help yourself recover faster and better:
- Muscle stim. if you have it (Compex and other companies provide guides to help with pad placement)
- Foam roll and mobilize regularly (This will help prevent injury or help with muscular imbalances)
- Heat/Ice when necessary (Especially with muscle strains, heat is a great way to bring blood flow to the effected areas)
- Muscle Soak: This is just a nice relaxing way of heating that area and allows us to relax a little more than just a heating pad
- NSAIDS: Check with a doctor prior to taking, but this can be a great way to reduce inflammation and pain in given areas
- Topical Analgesics: Help with pain and swelling (Rock Sauce is a fan favorite)
These are just some of the ways that can help produce a faster recovery time for certain injuries. As you go to different professionals, they might also suggest other modalities to try during your time of recovery as well as give you certain stretches and exercises to do in your off time.
And once the storm is over, you won’t remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won’t even be sure, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain. When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in. That’s what this storm’s all about.”
― Haruki Murakami
Hopefully, if you have an injury, this post will help steer you in the direction you need to be going. The goal with injury is to heal as fast as possible, but do so in an well thought out, effective way, that lends itself to bringing you back at 110-120% of your previous capabilities. At Pure Health we strive to provide this in the corrective exercises we program into our custom programming for our athletes, in hopes that it will help imbalances they would otherwise acquire in their given sport.
Train hard, Recover HARDER