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?

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