Broken legs, rolled ankles and amputations are what come to mind when the word ‘injury’ is uttered to the layman. In reality injuries needn’t be so chronic in nature. In actual fact, acute injuries affect both the recreational and professional athlete alike, far more than huge scale, catastrophic injuries!
Some injuries can be so acute you may not even know you have them. Take shoulder issues for example…….niggles, cracks, pain in certain positions that are always passed off as ‘just something I’ve learnt to deal with’ would and could still be classified in the injury category.
Where this gets more complicated is in the diagnosis of such issues. Unless you see a good physiotherapist you will always be playing a guessing game as to what’s wrong and how to fix it. Obviously some injuries can’t be diagnosed without X-rays or MRI scans but experienced physios can get a pretty solid idea of what might be wrong with a consultation.
Quite often these shoulder complaints can be the result of torn muscles (be it within the rotator cuff or even the pec in more severe cases) and all this time you’ve just been training through it. But they say ignorance is bliss and as someone who had a shoulder impingement for over 18 months, I wish I sought professional help sooner rather than try to ride the pain out and go it alone.
It’s for the reasons above I strongly advise getting yourself looked at by a good physio if things don’t feel right. Yes, you read that right: things don’t FEEL right. Even an unusual feeling is usually the first tell of an injury incoming, so don’t ignore it and please apply the ‘better to be safe than sorry mantra’.
It will save you so much precious time and you will be a far better athlete than you ever would trying to figure it out alone. Seeking help shows strength, not weakness.
That said, I want to offer you 5 tips to help deal with injury. These tips will cover everything from training approach to mindset, to further damage prevention and more!
1. DON’T TRAIN THROUGH PAIN
You read that in a loud bellowing voice, didn’t you? Good. It is that clear and should be. Pain is always a sign that your body doesn’t want you to do said thing, so listen to it. Stop the offending movement or position and try to find a very similar alternative.
A personal example of this from my own training back in the day was neutral grip overhead dumbbell pressing, as opposed to pronated pressing. This didn’t impinge the shoulder at all and was a welcome substitute.
2. Don’t Cease ALL Exercise
There’s ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS something you can do even in the most dire of circumstances. You’ve got a leg injury? Focus on your upper body. Or vice versa. You can even work the same area, you just may need to avoid the pattern that affects the injured area. The point is: with a little diligence and creative thinking, you can work around all sorts of obstacles.
Why let the injury rob you of something so important to your well being – both mentally and physically – as exercise?
Keep the chin up and work on weaknesses. See it as a blessing, a chance to get stronger and come back better.
3. Focus On Movement & Blood Flow
People get confused with the difference between complete rest and rest as in rest from an intensity perspective. Complete rest would be vegging out on the couch and never moving the area again. Whereas rest from intensity means still mobilising and moving the joint/area but not using any weight, speed or anything that will increase the intensity.
Movement promotes blood flow and blood flow promotes nutrient transport. Getting blood to the area means getting nutrients to the area, and nutrients are essential to the healing process.
And to clarify, this means moving in ranges that don’t cause pain. If it causes pain, reduce the range to where the pain subsides. Anecdotally when I was training the handstand like crazy my wrist became very inflamed and overused. Even to this day it has issues if I overdo the volume, but one thing that always remedies it is high rep mobility work.
4. Revise Your Overall Training Program & Structure
A wise man always reflects retrospectively after a setback. It’s all too easy to see it as bad luck or wonder why it happened to you, but this approach isn’t conducive to anything positive.
Did you do too much of X and not enough of Y? Sometimes the program can be balanced and you still get injured because you don’t need balanced, but rather more of something you lack. This is where an experienced coach is worth their money.
A chance to reflect is a wonderful thing and only with time can you really see things for what they are.
5. Reduce/Remove Inflammation
When it comes to healing an injury, you want to remove inflammation as much as possible. Obviously the aforementioned movement approach contributes to removing inflammation in the affected area, but another key part of the anti-inflammatory process is your diet.
Eating low quality foods will do nothing but continue inflaming the system. If your diet isn’t great to begin with, now would be the time to really try and focus on improving this area. Ensure enough water is drunk. Have a decent serving of vegetables at every meal. Eat a wide spectrum of fresh fruit. Keep alcohol and processed sugar to a minimum. Aim for a good night’s sleep each night and try to de-stress as much as possible. Deep stretching before bed and/or meditation practices can be a godsend for this.
Your health and body are always a reflection of your daily habits, remember that.
Have you had an injury? If so, how did you deal with it? How long did it take to heal? Let’s chat in the comments below!
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.