by Giacomo Marchese
It doesn’t matter how in tune you are with your body and what your level of fitness is. When you are pushing yourself past your limits to be the best you can be, it takes it’s toll, and sooner or later we all increase our risk of getting injured.
Now i’m not saying that you can’t prevent injuries from occurring and you should just power through your workouts. You need to be aware of when you are bordering the line between training hard and overtraining. Also, it is very important to listen to your body and be in tune with what it’s telling you. For example, let’s say you are training your biceps and you feel something different during muscle contraction that just doesn’t feel right. That’s your central nervous system signaling you with a warning. When this happens, it’s time to stop what you are doing mid set and evaluate the situation. More often than not, you should stop training the affected body part and possibly stop your workout altogether. You might be bummed out that you had to miss a scheduled training session but that’s much better than missing several weeks because you ignored your bodies warning signals.
That being said, there are times where an injury surfaces and there was simply nothing you could have done to prevent it…
Now what do you do?!
Do not lose sight of your goals. Yes it is discouraging and there is no denying the fact that this is a setback but remember that you play a hand in how long it will take to get to the next workout. This is a time to be mentally strong. Workouts require a certain amount of focus and mental toughness but when your body has been compromised, its time to bring your A+ game to the table.
What do I do?
Just like you made time for your training sessions and set benchmarks for your weekly progress, the same rules will apply for your rehabilitation. If you put the time in and take care of yourself, not only will you recover quicker, you will be in a better position when it’s time to resume your regular routine.
Develop an action plan:
Depending on the nature of your injury, you may or may not want to go see a doctor. Once you find out what’s going on, it’s time to put the work in so that you can get back to training at full intensity.
Here are some of the things you can do:
Reduce the inflammation. There are many ways to do this and I recommend using them all, to speed up the process as much as possible. By reducing the swelling around the injured area, you are allowing blood flow and giving your body the ability to initiate the healing process. Until the inflammation is at bay, your body cannot do what it needs to, to start repairing itself.
1) Anti-Inflammatory medications- such as ibuprofen may be taxing on your body over time but they certainly have their place for acute injures. If you are in pain, you can take up to 800mg at a time and it will also provide pain relief.
2) Heat and Ice – Ice will reduce the swelling and heat will increase circulation. At the onset of your injury and for at least several days, you should be doing this ALL DAY LONG. For a heat pack, I like to put rice inside of a tube sock and tie a knot at the end and then microwave it to heat it up. For a cold pack, I prefer a pack of lima beans, peas, or corn.
3) Acupuncture – This has worked wonders for me. In addition to giving yourself time to relax while being pinned, this is a method of increasing circulation and energy flow that has worked for 1000’s of years. I swear by it. I recommend finding a community based acupuncture center near you as they work on a sliding scale (between $15-$30, you pay what you can afford). This way you can hopefully get there several times. To find the location nearest you, go here: Poca Coop
4)Chiropractor – Depending on the nature of your injury, a good chiropractor can be the difference between you being injured for 2-3 weeks to 2-3 months.
5)Eat an anti-inflammatory diet – Limit your consumption of coffee or skip it altogether, avoid processed foods (breads, sugar, etc), no alcohol.
6)Use anti-inflammatory herbs and supplements– turmeric, ginseng, glucosamine, and devil’s claw all work wonders bring down the swelling. Recovery Accelerator – By Vega is a great formula that contains all of these ingredients and some others as well that will help you speed up the healing process.
Stretch. When you hurt yourself, your body tries to protect itself from any further damage. Your muscles around the injury may spasm and stiffen up to protect the injured area and to signal you to rest.
You should be stretching a minimum of 2-3x a day, for at least 20-30 minutes each time to loosen up the injured area. Doing this will make all the difference.
Rest. Last but not least, make sure that you give your body the time it needs to recover. No matter how on top of things you are, ultimately it will still take time to repair and heal up. The important thing though, is that you don’t beat yourself up and that you remain positive. It’s easy to feel like we’ve let ourselves down when there is a setback. When you are hurt though, that’s when you need to be at your toughest both mentally and physically.
Follow these steps and you’ll be back to training at max intensity in no time!