Dealing with injury – a VERY rough guide!

Getting back to activity following an injury can be a frustrating and confusing process, even more so when setbacks occur. It’s never straightforward, and neither is it much fun when all you want to do is run, ride or climb hard when your body isn’t ready. Remembering some key ideas should help you on your way, so when you’re injured have a think about the following:

-Focus on the CANS, not the CAN’TS
Anyone who does any sport knows that there are benefits to strength and conditioning, cross training, core work, improving technique and so on, but a lot of us often avoid these activities – and that’s fine, if you just run because you enjoy running and you don’t have any particular targets. Still, if you’re unable to run because of injury, rather than simply doing nothing isn’t it more fun to spend some time doing an activity that you CAN do, that will make you a better runner once you get back to fitness? An ankle sprain will stop you running for a time, but it won’t stop you from doing a good core workout, or swimming, or reading up on running or training techniques, or planning some races, or reading up on nutritional strategies for a marathon, etc. For athletes with more serious goals in mind, there is always a way to improve yourself as an athlete even when you can’t train – always.

-Rest is only relative!
So, you can’t run, climb or shoulder press. Best just rest then, right? Wrong! Any activity is better than none, so focus on activities that you are able to tolerate, and do them to speed up your recovery. Can’t run but can cycle? Then cycle. Can you swim? Then do it – the more the better. Can you climb, but small, crimpy holds give you pain? Then climb on big, more manageable holds for now – but keep on climbing! This is RELATIVE REST – avoiding activities that you know to be aggravating, while continuing to be active. Don’t overthink what your hamstring/shoulder/finger feels like – it’s likely to feel ‘tight’, weak, ‘not quite right’ etc, as much as anything because of your brain’s protective mechanism. Don’t stop at the first sign of something that is ‘not quite right’ but tolerable – trust that your body is much, much stronger than you realise!

-Don’t run before you can walk
Such a familiar concept, yet so often clients come to see me, injured, knowing full well that they have done too much, too soon. Here’s a typical example – “I sprained my ankle, rested for a week until I could walk on it pain-free, then I went for a 10 minute jog around the park and felt ok, so I went out with running club for an easy 5 miler and was in agony afterwards”. Wasn’t that outcome just a little bit predictable! Let COMMON SENSE rule – increase volume steadily, listen to your body and don’t allow yourself to be pressured by others. If injury rehab is a gearbox and you are starting in first gear, go smoothly through second, third and fourth before shifting into fifth!

Hope that helps, and thanks for reading!

Phil