Dealing with Injuries
Dealing with injuries is a part-and-parcel of training, and life generally. At some stage unless you’re exceptionally lucky, you’ll have to deal with them.
There are two broad categories of injury as they relate to training.
The first of these is where something specific has occurred, this is an acute injury e.g. you may have performed a high-risk exercise such as jumping up and down to a box and caused a knee injury. Just to note, in all of our workouts, we avoid exercises that are generally considered to have a high-risk associated.
The second type of injury can be more difficult to deal with and these are the chronic. When something you’ve been doing for a significant amount of time, whether in training or everyday life, bursts through a threshold and starts to cause a level of pain that hampers your quality of life. The frustrating thing about chronic injuries is that it often ‘sneaks up on you’ and something that was quite manageable yesterday becomes unmanageable today.
The single most important aspect of dealing with injuries is to remember that while fitness is very important, health is paramount. Your mindset has to put preserving health before worrying about losing fitness. In the long run, this approach gives a better chance of achieving or maintaining the level of fitness you seek.
Obviously, you should consult a treatment expert such as a physiotherapist or a general practitioner to get some recommendations for how to address the immediate pain and the underlying cause. Prioritize their recommendations over your normal activities. Often, a good way of tackling a physiotherapy routine is to incorporate it into a warmup before your workout.
Next, is to stop doing the movements that are exacerbating the pain, at least temporarily, if not permanently. You’d be surprised (or maybe you wouldn’t) at how long people stubbornly persist doing a movement they know is contributing to their pain. A classic example is someone who insists on overhead pressing when a shoulder impingement has developed or performing standard lunges when they have knee pain. You’re not going to lose impossible-to-recover ground by stopping a movement for a few weeks. If you stop for long enough for the pain to completely disappear but it reoccurs when the movement is reintroduced then permanently stopping the movement is probably required. As unpalatable as this may be, common sense should tell you that ignoring this could lead to permanent damage. Don’t become dogmatic about certain movements, there are always alternatives e.g. a reverse lunge instead of a forward lunge or a landmine press instead of directly overhead.
Of course, with a chronic injury which may have emerged due to everyday life, stopping the movement can be more difficult e.g. you develop hip pain due to the way you press the pedal repeatedly while driving. But even here there may be ways you can at least modify your habits to reduce the pain e.g. use the handbrake more, adjust the car seat.
Once you’re following a treatment program and you’ve eliminated the painful movements, the next step is to commit to continue to do as much of the remainder of your regular workout as possible. There are three reasons for this
- First, it helps your mental state, you won’t be as likely to fall into a funk you have difficulty getting out of in relation to getting back exercising.
- Secondly, you’ll maintain some of the fitness you’ve built which makes the road back easier.
- Finally, experts agree that people who continue to exercise experience quicker recovery times.
So, that’s our take, injuries are going to happen, health is paramount, follow your health professional’s advice, drop the problematic movements and don’t let a setback be a full stop.