Archives for April 2012

How to Deal With Training Injuries

Photo by jynmeyer

Injuries are a fact of life, especially if you train. These injuries can range from the dings and dents you get practicing partner drills in a contact martial art, or they can be everything else from pulls and strains to broken bones. If you are training in a serious way, it is only a matter of time before you pick up some sort of injury.

These injuries can be debilitating. Most small cuts and scrapes won’t prohibit you from training, but a broken bone or major muscle pull can easily put a damper on your training activities. One of your goals in training should be to limit these injuries as much as possible. Nothing will slow your progress like needing to stop training all together.

Dealing with injuries once you have them

Since it is inevitable that you will receive some sort of injury at some point, you need to know how to deal with them. If I stopped training every time I had a minor injury, I probably would have spent more time not training than training.

The key is knowing which injuries you can train with, and knowing how to train with those injuries.

If I hurt my x, can I still train?

You can usually continue training with most injuries, so long as you modify what you do. A few years ago I broke my wrist in a fall while training. It took a few weeks to realize that was what happened, but even once I determined it was injured I still found ways to train.

If you can train without re-injuring or exacerbating the situation, then you should probably keep training. On the other hand, if there is no way to train without the risk of causing more harm, you might just need to take a break. I have found that most injuries just require avoiding the injured area.

How to train with an injury

When I broke my wrist they put on a nice cast for me. It was a forearm length cast, and it was very itchy. It made showering difficult, and it wasn’t all that fun to wear. I kept training, but a few things had to be modified. Obviously with a broken wrist doing pushups is a bad idea. I also avoided any sort of serious contact due to risk of re-injuring myself as well as injuring others. Casts are hard, and I’m sure my training partners wouldn’t appreciate getting bonked on the head with a cast.

These modifications allowed me to maintain most of my fitness and skills but forced me to focus on things that did not involve the injured area. This would have been a perfect time to work on one-handed drawstrokes and shooting skills as well.

I’ve trained with many other injuries. Dings and dents are common and only really impact your training when working with a partner. The thing to be careful about with these kinds of injuries is that you will often naturally modify your technique to avoid more impacts where you have been hurt. Learn a “correct” alternative or risk creating bad habits this way.

Similarly, training with muscle pulls is still possible. A few times a year I usually manage to pull a hamstring or groin muscle. When this happens I usually modify any kicks I might throw on that side of my body to limit the potential for re-injuring. Unless you are fighting for your life or are in competition it usually is not worth the risk of full speed and power.

Injuries suck. Minimize their impact by finding ways to keep training, but don’t take unnecessary risks when you don’t have to. Making an injury worse can make the downtime worse. Take advantage of time while you are injured to work on other areas you generally don’t focus on, or catch up on your reading. But remember that the best way to deal with an injury is to not get one in the first place, so train safe and train smart.

How do you deal with your training injuries?

A Casualty in the War Against Unused Guns

An example of wear and tear from hard training.

Ironically enough, last night while I was dry-firing I noticed a casualty of my own.  I spoke yesterday about not letting dings and dents to your firearms caused by training to bother you.  Here you will see that my own Glock 17 lost a chip around the magwell.  I can only assume that thousands of repetitions practicing my emergency reload put some extra stress on that part of the frame.

Stuff happens.  When I noticed, I didn’t cry over spilled milk.  I grabbed a camera to document the occurrence and then went right back to what I was doing.  These things will happen if you use your guns.  The only thing worse you can do to a gun is to not use it at all.


Dings and Dents

Many shooters are attached to their guns. They treat them like the most precious substance on the planet and fear every little ding and dent their gun might acquire in its use. To be honest I can’t blame these gun owners, and I am definitely in the same boat for at least one or two of my guns.

In training, paranoia over dings and dents won’t get you very far. Guns are tools. Any tool you own and actually use is going to get dirty and probably get some dings and dents. Avoiding damage to your guns at all costs in training will only help you develop training scars that could get you killed in real life.

I understand how some people could become very attached and protective of their guns. I know at least a few of mine are guns I would like to keep pristine either because of their collectors value, or because they are nice guns that I paid top dollar for. This is one of the reasons you won’t see me competing, carrying, or training with a high-end custom 1911. Shelling out 2 or 3 thousand dollars for a pistol means I’d be a lot more protective of it than my off the shelf Glock 17. If my Glock gets dinged up I can always buy another one for relatively short money.

I see the same thing at the rifle range. The ironic part is seeing someone take out a cheap AK pattern rifle to shoot, then frantically run to cover it when a few rain drops appear or the wind starts blowing on a sandy range. Seriously? It’s an AK, and they thrive in poor environments like this.

Avoiding obsessing over a tool

If you want to avoid obsessing over the guns you train with, you need to make sure those tools are not super expensive and unique. It will be much more painful if a 3,000 dollar rifle or pistol gets scratched compared to a cheap, standard one. If you can’t afford at least two of a given rifle or pistol, maybe you shouldn’t be training with it. In fact if you want to keep it nice, buy a second one and let that one be the safe queen.

If you use your guns, real life will happen to them. Learn to get over it. Holster wear, dings from accidental contact with barricades, sand, and grit, are all out to get your precious gun. Just like you probably don’t stress over the finish on your framing hammer or your screw drivers, neither should you stress over the appearance of your tools beyond making sure they work. Treat your guns like they have a life cycle and will need to be replaced, and you’ll be a lot happier and get a lot better training in the long run.

Do you obsess over the condition of your guns?

Appearance on Kate Kreuger’s Talking Guns

I’ll be making an appearance on Kate Kreuger’s Talking Guns on Arizona Gun Radio tomorrow morning (Tuesday 4/3) at 6:20 Mountain Time (9:20 EST).  If you happen to live in Arizona you can listen live here.

1st Quarter Goals Checkup (Time to revisit your goals)


Photo by theogeo

Did you set goals this year? Any New Year’s resolutions? I hope you did because without setting goals you can only hope to be aimless and disorganized with your training. We set goals so we have something to aim for. Training is the journey, but goals are the waypoints or destination.

If training is a journey and your goal is the destination, then it makes sense to periodically check and make sure you are getting closer to the destination. Just like we keep our eyes open when we drive to make sure we don’t swerve off the road, we need to pay attention to our training ,making sure we stay on course for reaching our goals.

Since 25% of the year is already behind us, this is a perfect time to check on your progress. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to help you discern whether you are being effective in reaching your goals:

Have you completed any goals?

Sometimes we set goals that are easier to achieve than we expected. It’s not impossible that you have already completed one or more of your goals for the year. If you have, that’s great – pat yourself on the back. If not, make sure you are making progress toward your goal.

Once you have completed a goal, you should ask yourself what is next. If you’ve already completed a goal by now and you were hoping to reach it by the end of the year, you still have 75% of the year left. This would be a good time to set a new goal to take yourself further.

One of my goals for this year was to increase my flexibility, specifically to improve my “touch your toes” stretch. I achieved this goal after roughly a month. This was a perfect opportunity for me to set a new goal, perhaps to stretch farther than I can now. In my case since I already had goals for other stretches, I intend to double down and focus even more on those stretches.

Are you making progress toward your goals?

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t accomplished a goal yet, progress may be just as good. Progress is a huge motivator. If you are getting worse, or staying stagnant, you need to revisit how you are attacking your goals. Three months without progress is a sign that it’s time to try something else.

Are you making enough progress toward your goals?

Hand in hand with making progress is making enough progress. One of my goals this year is to effectively triple the number of pullups I can do in a single set from 8 to 25. At my last check, I was performing around 11. At the rate of improving by 1 per month, I definitely won’t meet my goal by the end of the year. I am currently taking a crack at Stew Smith’s pullup push workout, which should give me a huge leg up towards this goal by the end of the week. I’ll revisit my current max and see what I need to do to reach my goal.

If it doesn’t look like you can reach a goal, you have two options. The first is to give up on that goal and pull it in to a more realistic level. There is no shame in this if you set yourself up with a super-human objective that you couldn’t dream of reaching. The second option is to take another look at your approach. Maybe you need more workout or practice sessions, or maybe getting some mentoring or instruction might help.

Whatever your goals, do take a serious look at them and your current progress. If you never course correct you will have a harder time reaching these goals. Most of the things we are trying to achieve take a lot of time and focus. If we don’t make the best use of our time, then our goals are out the window.

How are you doing with your goals?

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