Injury is a very common occurrence in any sport. Like it or not there is a risk to getting injured no matter what we do. The higher the level you train, the more exposed you are to injuries. Not only that, if proper precaution isn’t taken, again there is a higher risk to injuries.
Injuries come in all shapes and sizes. It could be as small as a minor cramp, to a big one like a herniated spinal disk. I, myself, have my own fair share of injuries as well as witnessing others being injured throughout all my years in the gym. Having made the transition to the gym from playing football and being overweight, I have had countless experiences being injured, definitely more than the average gym-goer. If there is one thing I would want to share is that injuries are very frustrating. However, through being injured, I truly start appreciating being healthy.
Before we get into dealing or preventing injuries, let’s talk about injuries itself. Injury, is defined as damage inflicted on the body by an external force. Injury can have their different types:
- Muscular injuries (Strains)
- Joint injuries (Sprains)
- Nerve injuries (Impingements)
- Miscellaneous Injuries
Injuries can also be classified by their duration:
- Acute Injuries (short term, immediate)
- Chronic Injuries (long term)
Muscular injuries or strains are injuries that impact directly on the muscle. It could be as minor as a muscle tightness to a major muscle tear, which requires surgery to fix.
Joint injuries or sprains occur on the joints or the structures such as tendons and ligaments that make up the joint. It could be an inflammation of the tendon to a full blown tear of the ligament.
Nerve injuries are usually impingements. Nerves originate from the spinal cord, which is protected by our vertebral column. Misalignments of the vertebral column may cause the nerve to be “pressed” or impinged. This causes pain and muscle weakness because some nerves attach themselves to muscles. These group of nerves are called myotomes.
Miscellaneous injuries are such as head injuries and cuts and bruises.
Now some of the most common sites of sports injuries are:
- Lower back and hips
- Shoulders and neck
- Wrists and elbows
What to do when you have an injury?
If there is pain, STOP IMMEDIATELY. This is a no-brainer. If you are doing high-impact exercises such as Squats and Deadlifts, I would suggest to switch to less high-impact exercises, such as machine work, to prevent further damage.
If pain persists, please seek medical help. Getting an accurate diagnosis to your injury will be the first proper step to rehabilitation. Whether it is a doctor, physiotherapist or a chiropractor, professional help is always advised and you can discuss your next step with them.
Rehab! Rehab! Rehab! Most of the time poor rehabilitation will cause poor healing and extended time out of action. Work closely with your physiotherapist or do some research about your injury and come to the gym and do the rehabilitation work. Whether it is mobility, stretching or specific exercises, it will be worth the effort put in.
Ensure that you have adequate nutrition in terms of both macronutrients and micronutrients. This speeds up repair of tissues.
Next, is to analyse what you did to get that injury. Could it be poor technique? Too heavy weight? No warm up? Break it down step by step and you will be able to find out the cause. Once you do so, prevention will be easier. If you have to, re-learn your workout techniques from scratch. This will benefit you in the long run.
Finally is to slowly ease yourself back into your sport or the gym. Once recovered, we sometimes tend to do too many things at once too fast and this is detrimental in our road to full recovery. Keep in mind that you have only just recovered and KNOW YOUR LIMITS. Try setting small milestones for yourself once you are back into the swing of things, such as a pain-free workout or to be able to execute a certain exercise without pain.
CAUTION: Even though you are injured, that does not mean that you abandon everything and just sit down on the couch every day. You have to keep working on the area you are injured so that you can increase the strength and also the range of motion as well as promote quicker repair.
One thing I would like to advise is to take injuries as a learning opportunity so that something like that will not happen again
How to prevent injuries?
- Make sure you have proper workout technique. Do research on proper workout techniques and find what works best for you. Get someone with more experience to help you watch your technique. Listen to their advice and LEAVE YOUR EGO AT HOME.
- Warm up thoroughly. I see people walking into the gym and immediately loading heavy weight to squat or deadlift. This is a one-way ticket to injury. Go through your paces and take your time in your warm ups. Make sure everything is properly done, from mobility to stretching to your warm up sets.
- Invest in good mobility equipment. When you are heavy lifting, we can expect muscle tightness. A good foam roller or a massage ball will help release this tightness and prevents further injuries.
- Listen to your body. This is a very vague subject as it varies from person to person. However, a rule of thumb is to not try an exercise your mind and body is not prepared for.
- Get a partner or a spotter. During heavy sets, it is safer to have a partner or a spotter watching over just in case you fail a rep.
- Ensure proper nutrition while you train. Food is fuel and building blocks for the body.
- Take a rest or deload when needed. When you feel like you have overtaxed the body, try taking a day off or, if you still want to train, train in a deload manner. This will help in the longevity of being injury-free.
Finally, STAY HUMBLE, HUSTLE HARD, HUSTLE SAFE
Thanks for reading,