Training Around an Injury - Week 2 Come back
Week 2 Update
Week two- back in competition training and it was another challenging week. I had started this training for the competition with my knee bothering me, and in the beginning it felt minor, only muscular and just constantly tight at first. As I continued training I ignored the small, nagging pain, and convinced myself that I was just sore, post Murph, just a bit out of shape, and that I could utilize various mobility exercises to get it to dissipate. But we were not warmed up at all and I had done some muscular damage. My quad and knee became more painful both inside and outside of the gym and eventually I broke down and admitted to myself that the pain was more that just post workout soreness.
I couldn’t even power clean without pain let alone walk up or down stairs without pinching and aching. So I finally coached myself and did what I would have told any athlete of my to do a week ago, I stopped anything that bothered it and subbed for something thing that didn’t.
Injuries do not mean you can not train, they just mean that area of your body needs extra rest and recovery.
Seek Professional Help:
Another week went by and the pain outside the gym had gotten slightly better but I was still not able to Power Clean let alone squat. I knew it was time to get a professional opinion and some body work. I did not think it was anything serious, just a very pissed off muscle or more professionally referred to as a strain (stretch or tear in the muscle). Although minor, it wasn’t going away with what I was doing so I knew I still needed professional help to release it.
My PT did his full eval and came to the same conclusion. I needed to stay away from anything that hurt it BUT I was cleared for anything without pain, and even I could do anything that allowed movement just before the pain started. Example: if I could not do a full air squat without pain but I could go half way before pain started, I was cleared to squat till just before the pain. He not only cleared me for this he prescribed it!!! This is the new age thinking with many physical therapists and doctors these days and I greatly agree. That injuries and muscles can recover better and faster through controlled and progressive movements. That doesn’t mean since I strained my quad that I can go full out squat, but I can and SHOULD move my leg. That it will heal better through slow progressive and controlled movement vs no movement at all. There are many theories of increased blood flow, nervous system and mental connection. But whatever it is I think it is progressive, amazing and ideal for athletes.
You Will Not Lose Your Gains in One Week:
Honestly you will not lose them even in two. But this is where the line gets very blurred for many athletes. We don’t back off as much as we really should. We push past a little too much pain and are still adding to the injury and not taking the true time off because we are too scared to lose all our hard work that came before. But you have to be honest with yourself and your body. You do yourself no good by pushing past that pain limit or not listening to your body’s natural way of communication. Pain is your body telling you something is wrong and more damage is about to be done if you continue. Listen to it.
Athletes get so obsessed with the thought that they will lose their gains, or lose time and progress if they take time off for an injury. But honestly you lose more by not listening to the injury soon enough than you will if you take time off.
Trust Me, I Have Been There:
I remember the first time I thought I injured my hip. I had horrible pain when squatting. I was about 3-4 weeks out from a huge meet where I had major PRs planned. I was stubborn for about a week or two trying to just roll it out and stretch. Nothing got better, it got worse and constantly painful and unbearable. So I finally went to a PT. The PT said nothing seemed damaged, I should take time off and see how it goes. I was told to take two weeks off. These two weeks were two weeks out from the meet. SHIT. But the pain had gotten that unbearable, so I listened. All I did for two weeks on Squat day was any PT exercise that didn’t irritate my hip. Side walks, monster walks, stanky leg, glute bridges… anything. Squat day became butt band day for like 15-20 mins. I showed up to the meet not having tested any opening numbers the week before and just accepting whatever I could get that day. Warm up went smooth and strong so I went for it. I ended up PRing my squat EASY. I don’t say this to brag, or make my usual point that PT is a vital part of training, I say it to prove that you can train around an injury and STILL keep all that work and progress you had made before. IF you rest it soon enough, and if it is not already a major injury. A few days in the grand scheme of the months of training before, or months to come after are nothing. But if you ignore an injury for days, or weeks, the recovery time can mean many weeks or even months to come back. Yes, tons of time off CAN take away from your progress. Major injuries suck. So would you rather take 3 days off? Or 3 months?
Training With an Injury is Under 100%:
When you’re in pain you can’t train to your full potential anyways. The pain will hold you back from giving it your true all, finishing your sets or doing all the training prescribed most days. This can decrease your progress more than resting a few days. So, you are better off resting, healing and getting back to full potential anyways. And that’s not even addressing if you ignore a minor injury for long enough and it turns into something more serious. I have always said “I think every athlete should go through a major injury” not because I think that everyone should get injured, but so that they understand and appreciate what it means to take that forced long extended time off. I wish there was a way to simulate it almost like with high school kids and fake crying dolls. To allow athletes to truly fear the consequences of big injuries and listen to the warning signs. The physical and mental battle of a major injury is real. And it is never worth being stubborn and ignoring a small injury you could heal in a few days or weeks leading to something that could take months, a year or more to fully come back to.
Listen to Your Body:
The sooner you listen, the sooner you’re back to 100% training. Injuries from minor to major are no joke. But they do not mean you can not train. Train around the injury. How do you think major games athletes get big injuries at the games and come back the next year to dominate? They don’t just sit on their ass till that injury heals they do everything else they can around that injury that doesn’t make it worse but lets them stay strong elsewhere. If you break your foot, do strict pull ups and bench. If you strain your wrist, do air squats or box step ups, single arm KB swings… there are so many options to train around an injury. And if you can’t think of them ask a friend, a pt, a coach or try google! There are endless options, but you only get one body. Listen to it.
My train around:
My routine to stay up with my training has been simple and I feel just as strong as the week before, if not stronger since I have more time to dedicate on other weaknesses that don’t involve squatting.
Cleans and Snatches = Deadlifts, pulls and high pulls.
Back and Front Squats = BB Hip Raise or Glute Bridges.
And I just dedicate more time to gymnastics and upper body work for the time being.
Keep training smart and stay tuned for updates and insights!