Having never dealt with a true acute injury or tweak until this year I have always thought that staying moving was the smart thing to. do. In all honesty (this may sound crazy) I never mentally accept that I have an injury, Choosing to see the positive and not dwelling on the negative or doing what I can to stay moving and not dwelling on the fact that I can't do X, Y, or Z at the current moment has allowed me to bounce back from ailments faster than I ever imagined. Now by no means am I saying that this is the same for major things that happen outside the gym doing life or inside the gym doing a WOD, I am not naive to the fact that you may get dealt a hand of a more aggressive injury that needs or needed medical attention and/or a visit to a Doctor. Quick Disclaimer - It is important to remember that I'm not here to tell you that you should train no matter how painful an injury is (a minute thing to me may be a major thing to you and visa-versa). Quite obviously, rest and recovery are so crucial to make sure you start to get better and not make things worse. The goal is to improve and not regress further. However if you encounter an injury the first thing that should come to your mind is "how can I continue to work around this to keep moving and stay around a supportive atmosphere."
When an injury occurs there are a lot of things that can pass through your mind and emotions such as fear, confusion, frustration (I get totally pissed lol) and uncertainty are all accompanied by the "worst case scenario thoughts" racing through your head. From that point forward you are most likely limited on options when it comes to movements and workouts. Here's an example of what most commonly happens: we stop moving in order to avoid the pain. The lower body is hurting or tweaked, so we avoid doing anything with that part of the body. Your wrist is messed up and we shut down all upper body training. It isn't long before mental frustration and emotional depression or sadness starts to enter into the equation. If this lasts long enough, that depression will start to demotivate even the most committed people. What started as just skipping the squatting workouts has now turned into missing training sessions altogether. Consistency in training and motivation to stay the course with your nutrition start to slip too. You find yourself eating cheat foods and making poor choices out of the gym, since you are less motivated by the work you are doing inside the gym that feels so limited.
Here's the crazy thing about pain. Eventually, after enough time, our bodies will figure out how to heal, the pain will diminish, and you will be able to return to your life of moving again without the constant reminder that you are limited. Whats most important? Where you are at mentally and physically when that time comes depends greatly on how you navigate the days, weeks, and/or months that you were injured or out of the game.
Here's a more ideal scenario. Once the dust settles from your injury, you found solutions to keep yourself moving and worked around upper or lower tweaks. You haven't missed multiple training sessions by skipping days all together, your aerobic fitness is still intact, you've maintained strength in the rest of your body, and surprisingly, you haven't lost as much strength in the affected area as you thought you might. Your mood dipped slightly, but you managed to stay focused and engaged throughout the injury. And you healed faster than you could have imagined when the pain first set in.
That doesn't have to be a "too good to be true" fairytale. And here are 5 reasons why movement and training are so essential to the healing process.
- Hormonal impact of training - Resistance training on any part of the body will impact the production of growth hormone. This, in turn, will aid in the healing of all of your tissues - healthy as well as the ones that are injured. Hormones are a powerful part of the healing process, and you need to get them turned on even when you are healing from an injury.
- Nervous system impact of training - Training stress when appropriately dosed can have a positive impact on the nervous system so it will help improve your sleep. Sleep is when so much of the body's healing and restoration happen. If you train when you are recovering from injury, then you will sleep better and in turn heal faster.
- Immune system and Inflammation - Simply getting your blood moving through the body and to the limbs and impacted area with low-intensity exercise can boost your immune system and reduce inflammation throughout the body.
- The psychological impact of training - Finding yourself in a depressed state from injury is very common. Training will elevate your mood and help to keep you optimistic about the outcome.
- Nutrient Processing - Getting into a rut with your food when injured is so common. Training and movement, in general, can support a healthy microbiome (gut bacteria). When we are sedentary, this can negatively impact how we break food down, cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria, and actually send signals to your brain that makes you crave bad food. A regular dose of training stress will help keep your gut healthy during injury, allow you to process your nutrients better, and make you crave healthy stuff, not junk. (credit Marcus Filly)
If you encounter an injury inside or outside the gym. Becoming completely immobile is not ideal. Stay positive, seek solutions to keep moving, stay focused on the process of healing. Resting, training, nutrition and proper mobility and accessory work will assist in decreasing healing time and get you back to your normal routine. There are no magic pills or quick fixes but there are ways to slow down to speed up and get you back on your feet. If you have questions about working around an injury or even want to put together a private coaching gameplan you can reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and one of your coaches can lead you through a process of recovery while staying moving.