By IAN CARVER
For many years I was a use of force instructor in a required class for all agency personnel. To make the class realistic, we employed Simunitions to create force on force encounters. In every class, there were at least a couple students who would be hit in non-vital areas and act as though they just had an appendage lopped off with a dull axe. The training quickly revealed those who were going to throw in the towel at the first sign of adversity and injury, and those who were going to modify tactics and stay in the fight. I’d yell at the folks who gave up, “You’re injured, not dead! Stay in the fight!”
Any good coach or smart, self-programming athlete knows the first mantra is do no harm, but we must realize injuries will happen at some point.
Stupid programming, a lack of coaching and oversight, and ego can lead to injury. As a leader, I help overcome the new adversity through positive interaction and information they can use to move forward.
Most workout injuries are soft tissue based and involve the muscles and connective tissue in the body. Most heal in a few weeks with rest of the affected part, the use of anti-inflammatories and ice, rehab work, and smart workaround training. Muscles will heal quicker than tendons and ligaments. Muscle spasms and strains are common and heal in a few days with proper care. Tendonitis and other similar injuries need the same healing protocol but can take longer to heal. Disc injuries to the spine heal slowly and, in some cases, never fully heal, leaving athletes with issue they have to work around for years.
Structural injuries take longer to heal. Bones need to be set, mend, and regain load bearing capabilities. This often take weeks.
However, structural injuries in the gym are uncommon unless a major stupid attack occurs or you have incredibly bad luck. Regardless, whether it’s soft tissue or structural, you can and should continue to work out; you just have to do it right.
Your first assessment should determine the injury severity. Being aware of your body and how it feels before, during and after a workout is important. You know when something is not right, so stop and assess. Working through a legitimate injury doesn’t make you tough, it makes you stupid. Discerning soreness and/or minor aches from true pain is the first thing to address.
Limited mobility, or range of motion, swelling or bruising are signs that can indicate more significant joint or connective tissue trauma, or tears of muscle groups. When you see these signs, your training is done. Take care of the injury.
Self-care starts with not feeling sorry for yourself. Accept that you’re temporarily sidelined and rest the affected area. Immobilize the joint or muscle group and get some ice on it as soon as practical. Icing the affected area for 15 minutes two times a day will help the healing process. Make sure ice packs are not placed directly on the skin. Anti-inflammatories will knock down inflammation and pain. Resist overmedicating and mixing with alcohol.
As the pain lessens, start to move and function with the affected area as normally as possible. This is part of the rehab process. Normal movement will help the injury heal. But be careful not to push too hard, too soon.
Compression is an effective rehab process. Tightly wrap a sprain or strain before performing range of motion exercises for two minutes. Then unwrap and continue stretching and moving for two minutes.
When the injury has healed to allow relatively normal movement, get back into an exercise program. Avoid the causative movements that led to the injury. It may not be your normal workout, but exercise at mild to moderate intensity. Concentrate the workout on physical weaknesses in other areas of the body.
As the pain subsides, begin working the injured area again. Go slowly, be smart and ease into things again from square one. Be smooth and controlled, stay away from jerky movements or impact, and keep weights light. Be aware of how your body feels as you work out. If you feel tightness or pain, stop and move onto something else.
If your injury is not getting better after 10 to 14 days, or any other changes take place for the worse, see your doctor. Don’t use the internet to diagnose an injury. You can get basic healing and rehab info from reliable sources such as WebMD or the Mayo Clinic.
Be smart with your assessment, treatment, rehab, and return to normal activity The body’s remarkable ability to heal itself and adapt is on your side and will make you stronger in the long run.