Let’s face it we have all had an injury whether big or small and have wondered whether training is still a good thing to do. Before you go jumping straight back into the gym and making your injury worse I want to share with you the process I use for determining what my athletes do when moving forwards. Almost all injuries can be trained around if you know what movements cause pain and discomfort and you have a good team behind you to help you through it.
Firstly you need to be asked a couple of questions which determine where you are and make an educated decision on what to do for your injury moving forwards. These questions are “What were you doing when you suffered the injury?” and “What movements now cause you pain?”
Don't try to be a hero:
If you’re telling me it hurts you too much to lift your shoulder and you have come in to the gym to train I am probably going to tell you to go home and rest it for a day or 2. If you are not a professional athlete competing at the Olympics or being paid to play sport then the short rest will be fine it is highly unlikely you are going to lose all of your fitness and strength in this time. Your priority is dealing with your injury or at the very least not making it any worse by putting yourself in a situation where that could happen.
Shift your focus to recovery:
You can start the recovery process immediately via many means. For example if you have rolled an ankle hot cold treatment over the first couple of days will reduce the swelling and promote blood flow through the area which accelerates the recovery process. If it is a stiff lower back performing 30 minutes of lower back or hamstring stretching morning and night to relieve the stiffness is perfect. If the injury is a little worse and you have no idea what to do the first point of call should be to ask your coach or trainer and if they don’t know they should have somebody to refer you to. A chiro, physio or other health practitioner who will be able to help don’t put it off because you’re probably going to end up there anyway and it is better to treat it early then wait and be a week or 2 behind in your recovery.
Listen and take advice from those you are paying to help:
When you are able to get back into the gym and train talk to your coach about how to work around your injury. Doing things that only hurt a little bit are not good. If it hurts a little bit it is not allowing the injury to heal. It might hurt a bit to start with and then when you get into the workout it goes away. This is not an ideal situation as it is probably the adrenaline keeping your pain receptors from registering the pain you are actually in and you may be doing more damage. I am not saying wrap yourself in cotton wool and don’t do anything but just be smart about the things you do and don’t do. There are always plenty of things you can do around an injury you just need to be smart about it or have a coach who has your best interests at heart to help you out.
DO NOT I repeat DO NOT injure yourself again:
If your injury is something which will take a while to heal and that body part is likely to be isolated for a while be careful not to overdo it on other parts. For example if you have a sore right arm don’t just do everything on the left arm every single day and expect it to not get injured too. Just training the other side is likely to cause some imbalances over time and you don’t want to end up injured again. Instead find other exercises or things you can do which don’t overwork another body part till it too ends up being injured and be creative with your programming so it doesn't lead to boredom because that is when impatience kicks in and you will try and push the envelope... I have seen it play out many times!
Don't expect an immediate recovery:
Because of the age we live in we all think everything can happen overnight or if we pay enough results will be delivered to us in express fashion. This is not the case with injuries. The human body takes time to heal and some things take longer than others. Be aware of anyone who offers a quick fix for injuries and if it sounds too good to be true it often will be. The worst advice anyone can give you is to dose up on painkillers or anti inflammatory tablets and get back into it. Worse yet is when the doctor offers you a cortisone injection so you can train. These things only mask the pain and allow you to injure yourself further while numbed to the damage you are actually doing yourself. A better idea would be to better your movement patterns, flexibility, mobility and practice better form so it doesn’t happen again.
The best person to have on your side in this situation is a coach. To correct your form when it is breaking down mid workout, fix movement patterns that will probably lead to future injury and program exercises to strengthen parts of the body which need it to avoid future injury to either the same area or to others weakened by this initial injury.
What does this mean for the long term?
Your goal when training should be to get fitter, stronger and healthier for the long haul. As your coach i want to see you get fitter and healthier progressively over time not up and down constantly. Longevity should be the reason for training, being able to live a longer, happier, healthier life without relying on others to help you with basic tasks as you age. In the short term training through pain and skipping out on things you could do to assist your recovery are not going to get you there. Doing this will haunt you in the future with continuous niggles and injuries, arthritis and chronic pain to name a few.
Now before you go and throw yourself back into training and say this thing I read on the internet told me so. I would strongly advise you seek the help of a health practitioner in your local area and do not run a google diagnosis. If your car needs a service you would pay for it so why be a tight ass with your body? It is your vehicle for daily life get it sorted out!