You train hard, you know the rules, and do whatever is necessary, and then, out of nowhere, something tears, or you feel a sharp pinch, or you hear something pop, or maybe even experience excruciating pain just for a split second. So, you feel you're okay and continue on, and then all of a sudden, you realize the pain never left. THIS IS AN INJURY. Now what?
First of all, the best way to deal with an injury is to not ignore it. Some people would rather just work through the pain and wish it away. They feel they can't afford to lay off, not even for a day. But this is where you have to put common sense to use. Training through an injury can exacerbate the injury and make it an even bigger problem then when in its original state. The pain is actually an indication that something is wrong and you need to pay attention.
In bodybuilding, injuries are very common. It does not come as a shock to hear that someone pulled a muscle, or experienced a sprain, strain or torn ligament. Often, depending on the type of injury, healing can take quite some time. In some cases, even surgery may be required.
Lifting weights consistently, especially extremely heavy weights will place a lot of stress on the joints and muscles. For this very reason, you should always warm up before diving into your routine of heavy lifting. If you don't you may very well regret it later. It is also important to not overtrain or sacrifice form. When you overtrain, your body does not have time to recover from your workouts and lack of recovery can backfire by putting you at risk for injury. When your form is weak even in the slightest, it can have the potential to set you back for weeks, sometimes months.
The best remedy for an injury is rest. Take away any direct contact with the injured area so that the damaged tissue can heal. If you fight against resting the injury and continue to train, you only prolong your recovery period.
Once you have gotten through the injury and start to ease your way back into the gym, it will be very important for you to keep yourself in check and not become overly anxious to start training as if you'd never stopped. But even if you do, you will very quickly learn that you are not able to pick up where you left off, your body simply won't let you.
With an injury slowly healing, the body will need to be pampered. You will find that you are weak during certain exercises because the injured area has to recover and build back up in strength. This could take a while. The hardest part is feeling as if you must start over just to build your way back to where you were prior to the injury.
Let's take the shoulder as an example. When you come back to training from a shoulder injury, you will be surprised as to how much you use your shoulder muscles in connection with training other parts of the body. Something as simple as picking up a weight from the rack can quickly cause you to remember your shoulder injury. Sometimes, even months later, you may feel great and think you are back up to speed, until you perform a certain exercise, or increase to a certain weight and then quickly realize that your shoulder is still lagging behind in strength, with maybe even a little twinge of pain, causing you to have to decrease the weight you lift, which may have been easy for you before. For bodybuilders, this is a death sentence and often becomes what they define themselves by. It's really more about ego than anything else. Carrying strength gives them that false sense of superiority when it comes to training and an injury destroys that view for some.
Dealing with an injury really becomes a test of inner strength. When you are forced to step away from your normal routine, with the right focus, the injury can actually teach you a lot about yourself. You may learn that your love for training is not based on how strong you are or how much weight you can lift but more so, how well you persevere. Although, you may physically be down, your mental drive continues to strengthen because training is in the blood, regardless of the set backs. Walking into the gym knowing that you are not able to train as you did, is hard to swallow. But here is the most important step, you still walk in.
When you decide you are able to put your pride on the shelf and willing to take baby steps forward, you will find yourself coming back to where you need to be. It may take longer than you expect but it may also surprise you as to how quickly you bounce back due to your athleticism and strength.
With some injuries, you may find that you will need to modify your workouts in the future and not entertain the same exercise that may have contributed to the injury. Don't let that bother you. There are so many variations of working the same muscle groups, you will be sure to find several substitutes to get the job done, and you may like them even better.
The key to coming back to training is to take it slow, be patient with your body and yourself. Realize that the baby steps are temporary and just as you may need to crawl for a while, when you are completely healed, you will be up and running again in no time.
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