Injury equates to opportunity
27 November, 2018
-Your injury does not define you
-Every one of the best athletes in the world has gone through injury and still come out on top, why?
-Rest is not always the answer
Before I continue it is important to note that every single injury is an individual case, some take longer than others to heal and some may in fact not come back stronger than before but I do believe wholeheartedly that people hold on far too long to injury and use it as an excuse to stop training and moving and this is the issue I wish to deal with.
Personal experience: Shit happens.
Personally I was reminded twice this year that, to put it bluntly, shit does in fact happen that is or isn’t in our control.
At the start of the year I spent 5 days in hospital went through two minor surgeries to deal with a dog bight which was entirely my fault after taking the wrong actions in splitting up a scrap between two otherwise very loving and gentle dogs.
Secondly and more recently I was in a car crash, this time not my fault that involved a head on collision with a rather stubborn pole which resulted in a dislocated right elbow.
These and many other injuries I’ve had to work through and get over in the past 29 years along with the multitude of injuries I have helped countless others overcome over the past decade as a strength and conditioning coach have given me great insight into how to deal with pain and many injuries.
Thoughts and language: The glue that holds your relationship with your injury together.
Your injury is just waiting to be dwelled upon, waiting in the dark for you to claim it as your own until you begin to really become the injury yourself.
You start language yourself as a person with “back pain” or “shoulder pain” and that labelling or continued feedback to yourself that you are in pain does damage and only prolongs your relationship with said injury.
This injury is truly a monster, a monster that grows the more you feed it and the best way to feed this particular monster is with negative thoughts and complete inactivity.
Injury is a greedy mother fucker too who wants to be fed negative thoughts as much as possible so it can hold onto you for longer, so you can keep it with you even when its thought to be gone and so it can impact your physical life for longer than you think.
Good news is that it is your choice to either dwell on and therefor feed your injury monster or move on from it and eventually remove it from your physical self.
The bad news is you’ll have to learn how to deal with pain, work through some discomfort and also have to do some fucking work if you do want to really remove it for good.
God knows how easy it is to get hurt/injured, get a little sympathy from well to do friends or family and sit back on your laurels #Slothlife licking your wounds as your hard earned gains slowly but surely drift away.
We know that the easy route, the #Slothlife is not always the best option and the path to physical and mental self betterment comes through dealing with stress and in some cases a little pain.
So what do I suggest you do if you are injured?
The plan: I’m hurt, what the fuck do I do?
Well provided you have clearance from a health professional I suggest the following.
(1) Start with as little training as possible to ensure you are able to come back and do a little more each day without aggravating your injury. Treat training now like adding a salt to a meal, you can always add more but if you empty the entire shaker at once its going to taste like shit and in the case of your injury its likely to get worse. In short – Less is MORE.
(2) Explore pain free and controlled ranges of motion and use them. With my dislocated elbow I currently complete 200-300 small movements with the range of the cast I am/was in. These looking like little bicep curls and tricep extensions and cause no pain during or after but do increase blood flow and therefore aid healing. Every day after working through these small, light movements my elbow feels stronger and better recovered.
(3)Look at physical goals you can safely and effective train towards and crush them. Progress is motivating and motivation can be hard to come by when in pain.
(4) Think long term. Your pain, your immobility is likely not going to last forever. Think about how quickly the past 3-5 years of your life have gone, if your over the age of 21 it probably feels like its gone by rather quickly and looking back on this injury in a few months it will feel exactly the same.
(5) Be a sniper and zero in on 1-2 goals you can really focus on. Its common to be distracted by all the things we can do with our body, everyone wants it all. When your injured the truth is you often cant develop more than a few physical qualities. Personally I have picked decreasing body fat which I can do purely y changing how I eat and walking and secondly I am working on developing lower body mobility goals such as the splits and a few single leg squat variations such as dragon squats and shrimp squats.
(6) Finally….DON’T PANIC…It’s likely not the end of your physical world.
Remind yourself every single one of the best athletes in the world, throughout history has gone through injury and yet has still come out on top.
In your world you can get through it and you will in fact come out the other side of whatever the injury may be likely stronger and well adapted to dealing with pain, discomfort and the general ups and downs life throws at us.
In part two we will break down an example training template that could in some situations be used if you are rehabbing a single arm injury like I am currently.
“Depends” & “Maybe”…The golden words as a strength and conditioning coach. However as a client these are often the most frustrating words to hear when looking for a specific answer. You see rarely is an answer truly black and white, we live in the vast depths of a grey ocean of knowledge and opinions.
Truth be told although some principles apply to the majority there is still no one absolute answer or way to do thing…No magic pill so to speak. Many opinions have merit, many are valid but only when applied to an individual who’s situation, background, goals, needs etc. are assessed can we attempt to speak somewhat in absolutes. And even then the answer is often not simple. If you receive a response that sounds like an absolute, that sounds dogmatic I would advise you to tread carefully, especially if its directed towards a group or the general population.
You see everything evolves, opinions change and new research is constantly done to prove of disprove theories. I have heard coaches say one thing one year, in such a convincing, powerful and often forceful way that in turn boosts their image as a leader only for it to swing a full 180 degrees the next year to the other side of the fence. Ultimately where does that leave the people following these overly opinionated individuals? Confused, imbalanced with little to no progress at best and at worst injured. Here is an example of common questions asked and the beginning of some broad answers related to them.
Q: What’s the best exercise to help rehab “insert issue or area in pain”?
A: Well it really depends on who’s going to perform it, how long they have been training, what their emotional response is to pain is, how coordinated this individual is and much, much more.
Q: If I eat “insert nutritional approach” will I get leaner/bigger?
A: Maybe you will but maybe you won’t, it’s all going to come down to if you can adhere to this approach long term. If this approach allows you to effectively control calories. If this approach suits you as an individual from a digestive standpoint and much, much more.
The frustrating part of this discussion is that answers should be, at first anyway very broad. It is after discussion, assessment, investigation and implementation, reassessment and more discussion that things may become a little more black and white still with just a hint of grey! Stay open to the idea you and your coach have not yet figured everything out, keep an open mind, avoid talking and thinking in absolutes and again live in the GREY.