You’ve started to enjoy your running again, you are getting quicker, you are finding the shorter distances easier to maintain a decent pace without dying. Things are looking good. You’ve got a race coming up, you turn up smash it out and get a decent result, you go home happy.
Your next race is only a few weeks away, you are feeling good, legs feel strong on the morning of the race, you are buzzing for an even better result today. the count down begins and you blast off that start line, maybe a little too fast but you settle into your own pace and get into a comfortable rhythm ready to smash out the rest of the course. a slight slip on the balance beam obstacle but you recover well enough so no penalty. You start making your way up the first set of hill repeats and then BAM, something doesn’t feel right. A slight tightness in the Achilles, you push on, but it gets worse. So you stop to stretch it out and watch as people pass you by, dropping 30 odd places in a blink of an eye.
Your mind isn’t on the race anymore, your Achilles is screaming at you, people asking if you are ok, do you need help? You make you way around the course, nursing your injury, trying to workout if you will make it to the end to get that medal. You’ve gone from feeling great about everything to it all being taken away in an instant.
So that you is me, yep I’m the you in that story. Its what recently happened to me.
It may get you down, but don’t let it consume you. Yeah I get that it’s really shit, I mean really, really shit but it’s not going to get better if you put your head in the sand trying to ignore it. you always have a choice, do something about it and get things sorted or moan about it for the next, however many years. Stop using it as an excuse to not do something, it may not be what you love straight away but you’ll get back to it eventually.
Some people may not be able to relate to the racing or running but of the story but everyone should be able to think back to a time that things have been going great. Be it consistently hitting the gym, losing weight, dropping bodyfat percentages, gaining muscle or toning up then something happens, you get a slight knee tweak, you pull a muscle in your back, you tear a ligament. Basically you get injured when you are feeling at your most invincible. Man, that shit happens all the time. Like all the time. To loads of different people. It sucks massively, but what counts is how you react to it.
Are you one of life’s moaners, who blames their inactivity on an old injury, putting an excuse in front of everything you do? Or do you do a something else in the meantime and stop using excuses?
So what to do?
Well firstly, go get yourself seen by a healthcare professional, and I do not mean your local GP. They wont tell you much except rest up, don’t exercise, take some painkillers and come back in a couple of weeks, if nothing has changed, then we may refer you to a physio but there is a waiting list. Now there are some exceptions, they are some really good doctors out there (you know who you are) that understand that full rest is not needed, and that if you are injured that you need to get seen to straight away. Injuries do not just get better on their own, they have to be treated.
So what to do?
Go book an appointment with a Physiotherapist, or a Osteopath. Get them to look at the injury and get them to give you advice on how to recover from it. Now some, if not all of you, will say ‘but that’s expensive’ well I say what happens when you make it worse? Can you afford time off? What if you require surgery down the line because that injury, that you’ve left has caused issues somewhere else, causing more pain.
I hear all the time from people in the gym that they have had a knee injury for years, or a bad back and they just get on with things but wonder why it never gets better or that they can’t do certain exercises because it hurts too much. Come on, think about it, you are being an idiot. You wouldn’t leave a broken window or a busted boiler for months or even years on end, you’d get it sorted out asap, so why you leaving your own body to rot and waste away? Yep, I’m calling you out on this, you are being an idiot and thinking that by ignoring it, that it will get better… just like that. It ‘may go away’ for a while but it’ll come back eventually, because the whole time you are ignoring it, it’s getting weaker and weaker, and when it goes pop again, yep it’ll be a whole lot worse.
GO GET YOUR INJURY TREATED!!
The sooner you get it treated, the sooner you find out what the actual problem is, then the sooner you can get back to training. The longer you leave it, the longer you will be out for.
Ok so you’ve got yourself looked at and you decide that you are going to still go to the gym and work around your injury, then really work around it and make sure your Personal Trainer is aware of the situation, if you dont have a Personal Trainer then seek one out for advice and a few directed sessions . Do not do things that only “hurt a little.” If it hurts, stop doing it. If you are hurting it, you are not healing it. Yes, it might feel better once you get going into the workout, but that has more to do with endorphins and adrenalin than it does with whether or not you are causing damage and preventing healing. This does not mean you cannot move around at all, but do not do things that cause pain. Think along the lines of 1 to 10, 1 being feels easy and 10 being ‘that hurts a lot. 1 to 3 should be ok, but over that and you’ll be causing yourself further damage.
If you are dealing with an injury requiring a long time of recovery, for example a shoulder injury, then you need to be careful you do not cause other injuries or imbalances in your training. If your left shoulder is hurt and you spend three months only working your right arm and right shoulder, you are setting yourself up for future problems. It is not just your arms, but your back, hips, and legs that will be affected by this constant unbalanced unilateral movement. In this case you are better off focusing on lower body and core exercises. This is where a good personal trainer comes in , they will know when to push you and how to train you in other areas to not aggravate your injury.
So you’ve hurt your knee, so legs are out of action for a while, train upper body, do everything seated. Work on your grip strength.
There is always something that you can do for your training, to help you keep up that consistency and help keep your motivation up. Yeah I haven’t been able to run properly but I’ve been working on other areas to help keep me in shape in the meantime (you can checkout my instagram here).
An injury shouldn’t be an excuse to stop training completely. If you’ve hurt your hand, you can still train legs, you can still sit on a bike and work on your cardio. Stop with the excuses, because you are only making things worse.
THERE IS NO QUICK FIX!
As with most things in life, we are in a hurry to get to the next step and recovery is no different. Beware of the quick fix. I have had clients come to me saying their doctor wanted to give them a cortisone shot. Unless you are playing in the FA Cup Final tomorrow, there is no reason for you to get a cortisone shot. In my experience it only allows you to train through the pain and worsen the injury. Likewise, beware of painkillers in general. If you want to take something, double or triple your fish oil and deal with the inflammation aspect of your injury.
If It Hurts, Stop. It’s Just Not Worth It.
This one is worth repeating. For the vast majority of us, we work out for fun or because we are committed to a certain level of health, or we wish to attain a certain level of fitness. We are not professional athletes, nor for the most part even competitive amateur athletes. Our priorities in our lives are different from a pro-athlete and therefore our priorities in the gym should be also.
Your mission in the gym is to get stronger, fitter, and healthier for the long haul. As a Personal Trainer, I want to see you getting out of bed on your own at the age of 80. Training through pain and skipping recovery will not help you. You can do it in the short-term, but it will come back to haunt you in the form of continued injuries, arthritis, chronic pain and more. All gym motto’s should be ‘LEAVE YOUR EGO AT THE DOOR’
Think about the people in the gym who have the best form and put up the best numbers. They are the people who put in the work day in and day out, not the people who try to muscle through things. Treat your injury recovery the same way. Take the time necessary to heal properly, seek professional advice; it will help you in both your performance and your quality of life for years to come.
Don’t be an idiot – put your ego and pride to one side, your health is way more important
Seek professional healthcare advice
Get the injury treated, don’t leave it too long
Continue training – adjust your program, don’t use it as an excuse to stop completely, you can always do something else to keep active
Seek training advice from a professional
If it hurts, STOP
Have a bit of patience, it will not get better over night.
Relax about it, you are doing something to get better and recover from your injury.
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