One of the benefits of having trained for any number of years is the ability to read your body, to discern the difference between a minor sharp pain and an actual injury that requires immediate care. I have honed this skill to perfection; as anyone my age can attest to the constant nagging pulls and wrenches that pop up. If I couldn’t tell the difference I’d have quit long ago! Last night I was beset by yet another one, this time a sharp pull in my right knee – and this got me to thinking…..
Back in the day, if I had felt a tearing sensation like this I would immediately (at least after the expletives 🙂 have thrown down the weight, grimaced and then headed for the shower. Further disappointment added to my injury. Yet this was not my response last night. I now do what any experienced runner, swimmer or weight trainer should do. I merely pause for a moment, shake it out and then immediately shift gears, altering my routine to work other muscle groups. Again you have to distinguish between a small pull and an actual serious tear, otherwise you’ll further exacerbate the condition. But if it is minor, you may be able to lessen the negative effects of it by proceeding to work other areas. And equally important, you get a satisfactory workout despite the problem.
Remember back in the old high school days when if you got a sprained ankle the coach told you to walk it off? It actually worked a lot of the time, didn’t it? But how was that possible? A great part of the damage done from most injuries is because of the inflammation that takes place. This swelling and concentration of fluid puts pressure on nerves and creates other unpleasant scenarios. If you can move an area without excessively stressing it, you prevent this buildup, and prevent an overreaction by your body.
Those Lovely Back Problems
I use this principle frequently when doing overhead lifts with heavy weights. I have a history of back injuries, but I have developed a formula for minimizing their effects. Whenever I feel that unpleasant “disengaging sensation” (with little pain) while lifting overhead I immediately drop the weight, lay down and begin to do crunches and lower back stretching routines. CAREFULLY, of course. The old pelvic thrusts, stretches and pull-ups with ropes I have hanging from the ceiling all serve to head off the spasms, inflammation and even the pain that will follow. I keep it loose, and of course I get a full workout by going hard at other aspects of my routine.
It’s the same thing when I feel that pull in my right knee. I usually get this one when squatting with heavy weights without adequate warmups. My response now is to switch to doing bench presses, pushups, pullups, and gentle bicycle motion with the legs in a crunch position. I can feel the therapeutic effects. It works wonders. Sometimes I want to get right back into the heavy lifts, but I’ve learned not to push it. You have to understand your limits.
After your workout be sure to take a couple of Advil, or some other antiinflamminants. Also, if there is visible swelling you should elevate the injury, apply ice, etc. That is the standard protocol for minor injuries, doing so will dramatically shorten their duration of your “setback.”
So as you can see, by using the proper approach you can turn one of these unfortunate events into a little speed bump instead of a police barricade in your training plans. You’ll still get in a great workout, continuing to advance your progress, and you will most likely not miss a single date on your workout calendar. Happy training!