At some point in any sports person’s career injuries will happen – not only in elite sport but persistent throughout all levels of ‘sports’ down to your regular gym goer. Sadly, in high-level elite sport there is evidently a higher percentage risk of injury, as we are constantly trying to push the body beyond the limit. Athletics in general, is a tightrope – you are always a few inches away from plummeting off and having to grind your way back up to the top once more!
Over the past 8 years of competing at the top end of athletics I have unfortunately had some sort of injury or surgery that has kept me out of the sport I love for extended periods of time …each injury is an immense learning curve. It allows you time to truly assess things and implement changes in order to reduce the chance of something similar from occurring again! It’s true what they say you learn from your mistakes.
But fear not fitness fanatics there are measures you can take to help you through these dark times.
Accept you have an issue
First and foremost realise you have an issue a bad knee, shin splints, damaged shoulder, neck pain, bad back etc. etc. the worst mistake you can make is “ohh I can train through this it will go away or I can run this off” No you can’t, this will only make the issue worse. Seems like a simple solution, but the number of people I have seen try and battle on in pain has been countless. I too have done this in the past and it led to me unfortunately having surgery.
Seek medical advice to diagnose the actual problem
Seeing a Dr is of course what you should do. But from my experience sometimes not the best fix as I have found some will tell you the dreaded R word “4 to 6 weeks rest should fix that” in some injures yes. But do they tell you how to train round it? NO I should imagine and let’s be honest that’s not what you want to hear and probably not the solution for all issues.
A good sports physician of course or physio that has a good back ground and reputation would in my opinion be the best point of call to get a diagnosis and this in turn can help you tackle the injury. I would also strongly suggest getting a second opinion going into the 2nd consultation giving not too much away and see if they can confirm what your first diagnosis was. Sneaky but worth it.
Once you have a firm diagnosis you should start the healing, building and fixing process
Physiotherapy and good sports massage – yes it can be awfully expensive but depending on the injury it may be vital. If you can’t afford regular treatment then make sure you have a vigorous stretching routine in place. Set by the physio, Even something as simple as foam rolling 10minutes before bed each night, have about 5 tools hockey balls for my back rolling pins all sorts to try and get rid of knots and problem areas this can make a huge difference especially to your mobility and releasing muscle tension and tightness. These tools do not have to be expensive and some you can make yourself (see pic) best of all you get to explain to random people that you actually don’t have a sex toy in your bag but in fact it’s for my injury. Yeah sure.
This brings me onto my final point: Rehab
Rehab, rehab rehab. A good physio will give you a list of things you can do to help the healing and increase your chances of it NOT happening again.
Injuries give you a vital opportunity to correct things or become stronger in different areas. In the past, I have always neglected that time and just purely focused on maintaining my cardio fitness. This time around now I have got into my 30s it has been a little different. The majority of focus still remains on cardio but brining in two strength sessions in the form of a circuit, alongside and core! I also spend every morning rolling and massaging problem areas when I was younger I never did this and trust me when I say it makes a huge difference.
I won’t lie Being injured can turn out to be a lot more time consuming compared to your normal training routine. A typical 5mile run or 1 hour gym session transpires into…travelling to the gym, an hour slog on the cross trainer followed by rehab drills, stretching, perhaps alongside physiotherapy and mobility etc. etc. sometimes 4 hours of my life has flown by! It can end up becoming very intense and devour your time but it’s important to really implement some time out or as much as you can but also you must rationalise things and not obsess about it all, because ultimately what’s done is done! It makes no sense to live in the past and dwell on what may, or may not have been a mistake. Focus on the future and things you CAN implement or change. It really isn’t the end of the world having some time off and coming back stronger will put you in a better place and prepare you for other injuries.
I hope you have found this helpful… next time I will discuss how to train, plan and stay motivated around an injury.
Cheers Ian W