Unfortunately, with training comes injuries. There are lots you can do to limit your chances of getting injured when training but sometimes even the best athletes get injured. A few weeks back I was struggling a lot with lower back pain after pushing myself too much on my deadlifts and sacrificing form. It was only minor but since then I have been a lot more aware of my form and making sure I take better care of myself when training. Here are some top tips and FAQ when it comes to injuries.
Should I train when I’m injured?
There isn’t really an easy answer to this as it depends a lot on the injury. For me, my back restricted me from a few exercises but I actually found that going to the gym and working helped it to recover, however, it was only a minor injury. Sometimes your injury may mean some exercises have to take a back seat for a little bit but it might not mean you have to stop entirely. It comes down to listening to your body and don’t be afraid of taking some time off to fully recover as it will be really beneficial in speeding up your recovery and help you to get back to training sooner. Unfortunately there are no quick fixes and if you decide to go to the gym it really is important you aren’t doing things that are putting further strain on the injury and potentially causing further injury. Not training does not mean you can’t be proactive! As I will talk about later you could do foam rolling to help your recovery. We train so we can improve our bodies and it is not an overnight process so taking some time off to recover is not something to be ashamed of. If you’re really struggling with persistent pain that does not seem to be getting better then I would really recommend going to see a Doctor.
What can I do to prevent injuries?
There are lots of things you can do to help yourself and prevent getting injured. I am no professional in this but, from my experience, here are a few of my top tips
Make sure you’re warming up!
This is super important when you’re training and should not be neglected! You need to make sure your muscles are warmed up before ay sort of exercise to prevent injury. I incorporate a lot of mobility into this as well which helps me when it comes to lifting. It’s tempting to just get straight into lifting heavy and ditch the warm up but your body will not thank you for this.
Cooling down is important too…
Cooling down gives you a chance to get your heart rate back to normal and also allows for the lactic acid that builds up during exercise to break down which will prevent any injuries and help to minimise muscle soreness. Going straight from high intensity training can also lead to you feel dizzy. I dedicate about 10 minutes at the end of training to cooling down. You want to feel great after your work out and ready for the day and taking this time will help allow that.
Don’t over do it.
I will be the first to hold my hands up and say I have been known to do this. It can be tempting to put a little bit of extra weight on even though your body isn’t ready. It is important to make sure you’re pushing yourself to ensure you’re getting to most from your training but it also important to be realistic. You are not going to become Popeye over night! Allow yourself to progress at your own pace and if you want to try something a little harder, ask someone to help you.
Make sure your form is right!
My injury came from a mixture of over doing it and bad form. Luckily it was nothing serious but it could have been a lot worse. Dedicating time to work on your form is really important. I know how frustrating it can be when all you want to do is lift heavy but you’re stuck working on form, but it is so much better than injuring yourself doing something wrong. Don’t be scared to ask for help when you’re in the gym and, if you feel you need, you can always get yourself a personal trainer just to help you master the basics.
Foam rolling is your friend (even if it doesn’t feel like it)…
Yes, it bloody hurts. Yes, you’ll feel like an idiot doing it, but foam rolling is a really good way to help prevent injury. I tend to do this 3 times a week (more if I’ve got aches and pains). It’s kind of like giving yourself a deep tissue massage. As you’re rolling you are basically breaking up any adhesions and scar tissue which (although is pretty painful) helps with muscle recovery. Less muscle pain = more lifting… worth a bit of pain if you ask me! They tend to have foam rollers in the gym or you can get your own. You could also try out a lacrosse ball for more targeted muscle relief.
So there you have it, my top tips and advice for if you’re suffering from an injury. As I have said, if you are suffering persistently make sure you go and see a professional and don’t suffering in silence. Training through the pain is going to be counter productive in the long run.
Let me know what your top tips are, what your favourite exercise to warm up/cool down are and what you think of foam rolling!