What can we learn from injury?
I'm going to start with a dirty word today; injury.
If you train with any intensity or purpose, injury is something you are going to come up against at some stage.
So if we know we are going to face this adversity, the questions then become:
1) what can we do to reduce risk?
2) how do we recover?
Seems like common sense, doesn't it?
We want to not get injured, and if we do, we want to recover.
So why do so many people not run through some simple steps to make this happen?
Let's run through 3 steps to minimise risk, and 3 to maximise recovery.
1) Work your imbalances! If my left leg is 3x stronger than my right, what do you think happens when I squat? I am placing all that strain on one side of my body, causing twisting and rotation that I can tell you my body doesn't like.
Work single leg deadlifts, split squats and lunges.
The body craves symmetry, help it out a little.
2) Know your limits (or if you don't know them, have someone coach you who does). If my max deadlift is 200kg and I load 240kg on the bar...it won't be my back that wins the battle.
Be smart and measured in your training, stick to incremental increases and get guidance from someone who knows what they are doing.
3) I wish someone had explained this one to me earlier. My body is a car (not a Ferrari, more like a Mitsubishi Mirage in my case).
Training costs fuel, which must be replaced.
So simple, right?
Recovery protocols are what will help replenish that fuel. Things like rest days, proper nutrition, and treatment from those who know best.
If you are training, it isn't indulgent to get a massage (or treatment of your choice) once a fortnight, it is a necessity.
So now we are doing all these things, we won't every get injured. Perfect.
Wait.....life doesn't work that way.
To paraphrase the great fictional Dr Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum, for those of you playing at home)- "Injury finds a way".
So let's look at how we can recover from it.
1) Keep moving. Bed rest is not the answer, unless you have completely broken your spine somehow someway. If it was a technique breakdown then use this time to refine your technique, with guidance if needed.
If it was an instability injury, work some unilateral movements and shore up weaknesses.
There is always something you can do. As boring as sitting on a stationary bike for 30 minutes may be, it is still going to promote recovery.
Get those endorphins flowing and feel better immediately.
2) Understand that you have had an injury. You are not going to be attempting a personal best in the shoulder press first session back from a torn labrum.
Slow and steady wins the race. Cliches become cliche for a reason, as they are often true.
Be smart with your comeback and be conservative with your weights and movements.
If you are unsure, don't do it until you have sought out advice from a professional.
3) Do the boring rehab work. Nobody ever got excited about banded stretches and loaded carries...which is why they don't do them.
If you pre-paid for dinner and then left before dessert, you would be wasting money yes?
Then why seek out treatment and rehab advice and only get the treatment done?
Make yourself accountable. Get a practitioner who is going to check you have done the work, or a training buddy, or a coach.
Injury sucks. So does death and taxes.
All three are inevitable unless we move our money offshore or Elon Musk gets cracking on some longevity research. Looks like injury is still going to happen.
So let's do what we can to minimise the risk, and maximise the recovery.
If you need help, reach out!