Injury is an Opportunity for Improvement
Before you read this, I am not a doctor or a physiotherapist writing about clients; I write this from my own experience of being injured from sport and training.
I have had more injuries than there are letters in the alphabet! These injuries are custom to the sport I play but still everyone is likely at some point in their life to be injured from something, whether it be falling over after having one too many at the pub, stubbing your toe on something (we’ve all been there – ouch!!), or maybe a postural injury or muscular imbalance. However, I don’t think we should let these injuries stop us from still being active!
My most recent of injuries was a dislocated collarbone, at the SC joint. In the past when I’ve broken hands and fingers, torn rotor cuffs and dislocated the AC joint, to name a few, I have never let the injury get in the way of my staying active. I used the injuries as an opportunity to improve something else. When I broke my hand I ran all the time – and if you know me you’ll know I hate running – and I managed to get my 5K time down to 20 minutes and completed a Spartan race with a broken hand. When I damaged my rotator cuffs I was rehabbing every day and worked on my posterior chain development, and then when they were back to normal I set a new deadlift PB.
However this time around I took the “sensible” approach and rested, as everyone had told me to. I got the usual physio treatment and did stretches but that was it, no other exercise because as I said, I was being “sensible” and didn’t want to damage my shoulder any further.
After being able to exercise for the first time in a month and a half, I see the result of being “sensible”. I am not as strong as I was, can’t run as fast or as far, and as for recovery, well… I worked out on Monday and today is Friday and I still can’t walk properly. I’m not being unrealistic; I knew those things were going to get worse, but it made me realise when I got injured this time that because I was being “sensible”, I thought about all the things I couldn’t do or shouldn’t do and got bombed out about it, whereas what I should’ve done was think about what I could do!
So what I’m trying to say is when you get injured think about what you can do. Use the injury as an opportunity to improve, not an excuse to do nothing!
If you got injured from sport, make sure that you’re fitter and stronger when you go back. If you got injured because the wrong muscles are firing and overcompensating for a weakness somewhere else, use the injury as an opportunity to be stronger and learn how to strengthen those weaknesses and get the right muscles firing for you.
And if you got injured from having a few too many down the pub, well, stop drinking so much ;)
How to prevent or fix common exercise-related injuries and pain
I spend a lot of time dealing with clients coming to us injured from sport, or simply training incorrectly and unsafely. Most (if not all) of these injuries are due to muscular imbalances. A muscular imbalance doesn’t just mean, “Hey, I’m imbalanced because I’ve got more muscle on my right side than my left.” NO! A muscular imbalance is when a load is distributed unevenly through the body; each area should be flexible enough to adapt to the changes in the force being applied and stable enough to control the applied load. This means when a certain muscle group is tight or immobile there will become muscular imbalances, or if there is insufficient strength and stability in a certain muscle group there will be muscular imbalances. Mobility and stability together is a powerful combination, but on their own can be a weakness.
The No.1 pain in the a**e injury is lower back pain!
There can be many reasons why you may suffer from lower back pain; I’m only going to write about one, which is the overload of the lumbar spine! This can be either from deadlifting or picking things up with a wrong posture. First off we need to make sure you have a lot of core and glute strength so that you will have neutral pelvic alignment to support your lumbar spine. Once we’ve covered this my favourite stretch for this is probably one of the most simple as well. Lay on your back with your bum against a wall and stick your legs up against the wall, keeping them straight – there you have it! If it’s too easy, simply grab a resistance band and pull your toes towards you. Too hard? Shuffle your bum slightly away from the wall. This stretch is also nice if you just simply have tight hamstrings.
No.2 on the list is rotator cuff injuries! (My nemesis)
This is a very common injury; your rotator cuffs may suffer due to sporting injuries, poor pressing technique, or simply due to poor blood circulation because of bad posture.
There are plenty of ways to treat your shoulder as it’s such a complex joint, but here are two exercises that helped me when I injured my rotator cuff from playing rugby. The first is I want you to have a right angle in your arm and tuck your elbow into your ribcage as if you’re trying to squeeze a towel between your elbow and your ribcage, keeping your shoulders back and your traps relaxed! Take the hand away from the midline of the body keeping the elbow against the towel.
The second is taking a seat on a bench and placing your foot on the bench also, from there pop your elbow onto your knee with a right angle in your arm, keep the shoulder back and traps relaxed! You lower your hand down keeping a right angle in the arm. If these are too easy then add some resistance by either using a resistance band or a very light dumbbell. For both of these exercises think about not doing the Chicken Dance!!
No.3 – last (but not least) is hip impingement
This can happen from simply sitting down for too long or squatting and hinging at the hips a lot. My favourite stretch for this is the couch stretch for your hip flexors; sounds great right?! The best way to do this is to pop one foot onto or against a bench behind you, then bend the standing knee and drop the knee to the floor of the leg that’s on the bench, try to draw your foot to your glutes, keep the glutes squeezed and tilt the pelvis under. You should hopefully feel this in your hip flexors.