TRAINING WITH AN INJURY
Injuries are an unfortunate reality when it comes to exercise, and no one wants injuries to get in the way of our training or our goals. However they do not have to be the end of the world, and there are right ways and wrong ways to go about dealing with them…
Don’t Push Through Pain
Pain is your body’s protective response, encouraging action and behavior change.
Pain is an output of the CNS (central nervous system) that is produced when your brain thinks something is damaged or under threat. The sensation of pain is your brain telling you that it believes something is wrong, and that it is trying to protect you from harm.
All pain comes from your brain, and not your tissues. Your tissues send signals to your brain as you exercise, but it is not until those signals are interpreted by your brain that a pain response (if necessary) of some severity is produced.
There are many factors that influence the severity of pain that you may experience, and severity does NOT correlate to the amount of tissue damage or the severity of the injury.
Nevertheless, any pain experienced is a warning signal to your body that something needs to change, and that should be respected.
Pushing through pain will generally lead to either:
- a) Tissue damage & further injury OR
- b) Increased sensitivity of your central nervous system, causing increased severity of pain.
Either way, not a great result…
Know the difference between exercise pain and injury pain. Yes your quads will burn doing walking lunges, and yes your chest will be feeling every bit of your 12 reps of cable flies… But this is very different to your back hurting when you deadlift or your hips pinching at the bottom of a squat.
Train Around It
The good news is that complete rest is rarely the answer to recovering from injuries. I know that the majority of people taking the time to read this are highly motivated to train and don’t want to let anything get in the way of that. So this is good news for you. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t train! You just need to be smart about it…
There’s more than one way to skin a cat, and thankfully there is more than one way to get lean, to build muscle, to build aerobic fitness, whatever your goals may be. So change it up!
If a particular exercise hurts, then vary it. Play around. Alternate your grip, your posture, your range of motion, or the equipment you are using. Find a way where you can move efficiently without pain, and do that instead.
Always ensure you focus on form and technique when dealing with injuries. There are close to zero “bad” or “dangerous” exercises, but performing exercises with reckless abandon or just throwing weights around for the sake of hitting numbers is a direct path to hurting yourself.
Use injury as a reminder to acquire proper skill and efficiency of movement, even if it means putting your ego aside for 5 minutes and dropping some weight. Your body will thank you for it.
Seek Professional Advice
It is highly unlikely that you are the first person to have experienced your particular pain or injury. You are not alone.
We are lucky enough to live in a world where professional advice is available everywhere you go, and even luckier to live in a country where healthcare is easily accessible.
If your car broke down you wouldn’t walk everywhere forever. You’d call the RACV. If your hot water stopped working you wouldn’t shower in the cold forever. You’d call a plumber.
Yet for some reason when it comes to our health, so many constantly put off going to the doctor or to the dentist or to the physio… Which is quite puzzling and illogical.
If you have a coach or a trainer, discuss it with them first. Work together to troubleshoot the problem. If that is not possible, get assessed by a professional. Whether it be a physiotherapist, osteopath, chiropractor or general practitioner. Find someone you trust, who is reliable, and who can give you the correct guidance and a rehabilitation plan to get you back doing what you love.
Oh, and don’t believe everything you read when you Google search your symptoms…
Take Control of Your Health
Unfortunately having good physical health is not a given. The human body is an amazing system of self-regulation and healing, however it does have its flaws and it still needs looking after. And we are only given one of them.
Health professionals are there to help you, and their help should be utilized. However it is not their job to “fix” you. Health professionals have the knowledge and the training to give expert advice, education and facilitate your recovery. What they don’t have are magic hands or healing powers.
It takes a lot of work to maintain good health, to prevent degeneration and injury, so look after yourself. Take the advice of professionals, do your rehabilitation, and take control of your recovery
It is important to remember that rehabilitation does not stop when symptoms stop. Once injured, your likelihood of experiencing the same injury again skyrockets. Save yourself the pain of repeat episodes. Find time in your weekly schedule to continue your rehab, and once recovered, stay recovered.
There is generally no quick fix to injury, and your body and your health is your own responsibility.
Perhaps the most important part of this whole process…
It is far too easy to feel sorry for yourself when you’re injured and to let frustration get the better of you. But we aren’t perfect and s*** happens…
Physical health issues can impact severely on your mental health, and before you know it an injury is not only having a negative impact on your training, but also your work, personal life and relationships. Not to mention the increased CNS sensitivity that comes with feelings of depression and low mood – leading to increased pain severity and a longer recovery.
Don’t think that you are unfortunate, hard-done by and that the world is against you. See your injury as an opportunity to correct weaknesses and imbalances, and attack your recovery and rehabilitation head on with a positive attitude! Your mindset is an under-valued recovery tool.
B. Health Sciences (Physio), APAM