Whether you’ve damaged your rotator cuff, strained or torn a muscle, or are recovering from another injury, it’s important to work your way back into training safely and slowly to ensure you don’t trigger the same or another related injury. Injuries mean lost time in the gym and a feeling of regression and lost momentum, however it is possible to turn an injury into a positive. Use it to take stock, evaluate your current habits and work back into your training in a smarter and more effective way so you come back stronger than before.
GET A PROFESSIONAL DIAGNOSIS
Don’t just rely on your mate who has had a lot of physio to tell you what’s wrong. ‘Walking it off’ is also not the best way to deal with an injury. Go to a doctor or physio and find out exactly what’s wrong, and ask questions. Be curious about how your body works and talk to them about the best ways to return to form, and improve on your previous level of fitness.
It might be that you have a slight imbalance that is throwing off your posterior chain and affecting seemingly unrelated joints. The solution to your injury might be more to do with your posture and daily habits, than just putting too much weight on the bar. Knowing what is wrong and having a plan to fix that will give you the confidence to surge forward and get back to what you love sooner.
KNOW YOUR LIMITS
Don’t get caught up trying to force your body to recover by pushing it into too much too soon. If you strained your rotator cuff while doing bench press, then it’s a good idea to slowly and carefully work your way back onto the bench. Try doing alternative exercises to safely build your strength up again before jumping back under the bar.
Change up your routine by using dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands giving some nice variation to your training that won’t be a repetition of the exercise that initially caused the damage. Doing alternate exercises will help you strengthen your injured joint or muscle and build your confidence to return to your maximum output.
EAT WELL AND REST
Eat well and get plenty of sleep. If your body is recovering, it’s going to need the right fuel and a good amount of rest to repair and regenerate. Eat a well-rounded diet with plenty of greens and carbohydrates, stay hydrated and allow yourself some extra sleep. Staying off the booze will help your recover better and faster.
GO BACK TO BASICS
While you are figuring out what went wrong with this injury and how to improve on your form, go back to basics and build your foundation all over again. Work with a trainer or physio to find all your weak areas and imbalances and fix them now before you find yourself injured again.
Go back to developing your strength with the basic exercises and build your core strong and tight. Having a strong core will help with your lifting power while also giving your body a strong brace to ward off against back injuries and related strains.
As you ease back into your training, develop a plan to avoid overtraining and to set your expectations. Develop a balanced program that will help your reach your goals while also addressing your weak areas and imbalances in your body. Longevity is the key, so look after yourself now to ensure that you will still be training hard in 5, 10 and 20 years’ time.