Injury: The Inevitable
At some point, all exercisers will succumb to some degree of injury in the course of their training. It is an unavoidable and inevitable truth. Standing at the crossroads of “injury perpetuation” and “healing”, you are faced with a choice: brush aside the valuable information your body is relaying to you or step back from your training and assess the situation. My GPS recommends navigating in the direction of “healing”.
The first step is acknowledging that the injury exists. Ignoring and compartmentalizing the messages your body is sending is not a solution. I used to be an expert at compartmentalizing. Through 20 years of bodybuilding, I was in a perpetual state of injury. Ego would get the best of me and I would push through the pain in an effort to continue making gains. I was so obedient to my ego that I would continually risk my long term health and ability to perform in the weight room. I was not alone. Training talk with other bodybuilders almost exclusively centered about about what injuries we were training through. I will continually pay for more than a few of the injuries I trained through. I permanently hurt myself as a result of my ignorance and arrogance.
The “bigger person” is not the one who trains through the pain of injury. The “bigger person” is the one who is humble enough to step back from training, heal, and intelligently move forward.
Depending on the nature of the injury, your body will alert you to its existence of in several different ways. Such as:
1. Acute Pain
2. A Dull AcheVisibly Perceptible
3. Abnormalities like Swelling
The long held means for treatment of sprains and strains has been R.I.C.E (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). For many active exercisers, this prescription is more often than not; enough to get them back cruising on the road to recovery. In recent times, R.I.C.E has faced scrutiny. Doctors and Therapists are shifting their views in respect to the “rest” portion of the prescription and are adopting the more proactive treatment of P.O.L.I.C.E (protection, optimal loading, ice, compression, and elevation). Simply put, unless you are suffering from a severe tear, immobilization will hinder rather than help the progression of recovery. Intelligently stressing the injury and maintaining range of motion through recovery is the work of the Physical Therapist.
Today we will get an opportunity to get to the heart of the matter with an informative Q&A with long time friend and physical therapist, Guerrino Boni. He is the owner and operator of Form & Function Physical Therapy and Sports Medicine. Guerrino has a thriving practice, sports and conditioning certifications, and a background in athletics and coaching; I could not think of whom better to get to the best advice in the art of healing. Lets get to it!
Dom: What is the most common type of fitness related injury that patients seek treatment for?
G: Honestly there is no ‘one’ most common fitness injury I see. But most prevelent would have to be some form of Lower Back Pain and Shoulder Pain.
Dom: What activities were responsible?
G: Usually the injuries will come from one of two scenarios. The first occurs during the activity and most report it occurring right at the point where a muscle goes from stretched to contracted. The second (and more common) occurs after the activity all together. Usually later the same day doing some simple, mundane task.
Dom: Assuming you believe that no particular fitness activities are entirely inherently bad, what were the actual causes for injury (i.e. overtraining, bad form, too much resistance or intensity)?
G: In many cases there’s an underlying imbalance in either bony interaction, available active range of motion, or eccentric muscle control that exists. This imbalance leads to compensation elsewhere in the musculoskeletal system. The compensating area eventually either begin to react to the misuse/overuse, or they create altered muscle recruitment patterns that adversely influence joint/bony interactions. Often pain will arise from this. There are cases still that are simply overuse injuries or tissue failure due to overtraining and/or improper form.
Dom: What course of action should an exerciser or athlete take who has experienced an injury?
G: This really depends on the severity of the injury. If you feel it’s difficult to put weight through the area, or actively move it, then the traditional ‘R.I.C.E.’ (rest,ice,compress,elevate) formula is the immediate answer. Follow up with your healthcare provider or physical therapist immediately. If the injury feels uncomfortable but you are able to use it, the above mentioned ‘P.O.L.I.C.E.’ formula is optimal.
Dom: When is it time to call the doctor and seek treatment? How and when should they navigate their way to a prescription for physical therapy?
G: If any discomfort persists for more than 2 days, or steadily worsens, you should seek your healthcare provider. As I stated above, any injury that immediately renders you unable to use the area should be checked by a medical professional immediately. Many times people are prescribed some anti-inflammatories, or pain meds and recommended rest. It’s up to the person to suggest physical therapy and ask for a prescription to physical therapy (to have it covered by insurances). The faster you get into see someone the quicker the return to activity. This is both logical and backed by literature.
Dom: Finally, what should an exerciser or athlete regularly add to their routine to limit the possibility of incurring an injury?
G: My best suggestion is look at your routines and think “do these moves tackle the movements I need in my everyday life or my sport”. For example, a soccer player who doesn’t integrate lateral cuts and explosive movement in all directions and favors straight running and traditional lifting will likely be at greater risk as the exercise doesn’t effectively match the activity. Adding a few movements to bring you safely into all planes of motion and challenge muscles in ways similar to the activities you perform is your best bet in preventing injuries in these activities. I do provide self-pay options for people to give them biomechanical assessments. This is a preventative measure that will help identify compensations and provide you with movements to help correct these changes before they become problematic. Very recommended for individuals looking to take up an aggressive exercise routine or coming off of an injury/surgery.
Dom: Always a pleasure to talk shop, thank you for making time for us. In addition to clinical therapy, I understand you can be booked for lectures and sports & conditioning advice; what is the best way for people to connect with you?
G: This very true! I love giving talks and often provide free lectures to groups/teams/classes to increase awareness of functional movement and preventative therapies. Anyone interested should call the office at 401-294-6183 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put ‘lecture interest’ in the subject box. Thanks!
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