Injuries are inevitable. We do our best to prevent them, but at some point the body breaks down. I don’t know a single person that has gone through life without an injury. I don’t know any athletes that have gone through life without multiple injuries.
This doesn’t mean that everyone will succumb to life altering injuries, but just that the body is bound to get overworked in some capacity and go through the stages of healing to tolerate life and activities again.
So when you find yourself injured, it is best to be prepared. Here are some tips to help you prepare for that moment.
3 Tips to Overcome Injuries
Get stronger - Not just in your muscles
Start slowly - Slower than you think you should
Make a plan - Set goals
When I say get stronger, I don’t just mean lift more weights. You need to develop strength and resilience in all tissues: muscles, tendons, bones, joints, ligaments, capsules, discs, cartilage, etc. The stronger each of these tissues are, the better they will adapt to forces and loads placed on them.
One of the biggest issues I see in someone coming back from an injury is trying to get back to “normal” too quickly. For most injuries, I recommend resuming exercise at about 50% of your prior intensity and progressing 5-10% each week pending no set backs. I may be more restrictive for a more serious injury.
It can get frustrating to not be able to keep up with your teammates or others in the gym, but this will be relatively short-lived if you do it properly. If you rush back into things, you may never be able to keep up with them because you are setting yourself up for some serious damage. It’s better to be a little extra cautious with your progressions and to be mindful of how your body is responding to the demands you are placing on it.
Make a Plan
Figure out where you are now and where you eventually want to be. Set realistic long-term goals that allow you time to adapt. Now, reverse engineer the plan to determine a gradual progression from the start to the finish. I also recommend setting some short-term goals along the way and celebrating those wins.
Writing down your goals and plan is a great way to stick to it. When making this plan, make the progressions slower than you think you can handle to allow for any setbacks. It’s always better to be crushing your goals than falling short every week because you planned too aggressively.
Injuries happen. Be prepared for when they do. We make programs for athletes returning to sports/lifting after injuries all the time. If you need help coming up with the right plan for your specific needs, reach out to me at email@example.com.
Corey Hall, PT, DPT