As a competitive athlete, or someone who's pushing the edge of the envelope with their training there’s going to be times that you might pick up a little niggle, knock or injury. It’s what happens, it’s the nature of competing, playing in sport and pushing yourself to the limit Now my question to you is, should you train through an injury? If so, why?
Have a think about that for a second.
Now, should we actually train through injury? Well I’m going to say yes you should. Now the key to training while injured is to be smart and to modify. If you’ve torn your ACL you probably shouldn't go for max squat or clean and jerk. But the answer certainly isn't to sit on your ass feeling sorry for yourself. In most instances there is always something you can work on. One this time gives you to opportunity to work on some weaknesses that you've been neglecting. Getting yourself moving and doing something no matter how little makes you feel good and for anyone who has suffered a major injury they will understand how important this is to helping them through rehab.
For example a Client of mine recently suffered a shoulder injury meaning that 90% of what she usually trains had to get put to the side while the rehab takes place. But it allow us to focus solely on improving squat strength. We switched from the normal straight bar to safety squat to ease any strain on the shoulder with an additional focus on Belt squats and GHR's. 3 weeks later she made and 8kg squat PB and has managed to keep her body strong ready for her return to normal training.
so if you’ve suffered an ankle sprain, broken my ankle or something that stops you from essentially being able to walk, run or put weight through my leg and foot. What’s the reason for not training the upper body? you're still working towards being a fitter, stronger & healthier. Minus the set back, it will keep you in a consistent routine, it keeps you disciplined and it’ll keep you on the right track. Those reasons right there should be enough to keep you in check really.
Eventually the injury isn’t going to be as bad as it originally was because the body will start to heal and recover itself and you’ll be able to start doing some leg work for example. Even if it is bodyweight, banded or just an empty bar. You’ve got to think of it as a positive stepping stone in the process. We’ve had a chap who’s had knee surgery and he’s slowly getting back to regular lifting, training and moving. He’s able to squat and pull. Even felt somewhat of a heavy weight in his hands. It’s at this point that using your brain and a little bit of common sense will go a long way. Like if it’s starting to ache or hurt, probably a good time to stop and realise from that you may have pushed it a little too much for it that day. But it’s a good learning opportunity. Now you’ve got an idea of where you’re at.
One of the most important things I might add though is to continually do the rehab work you’ve been given. Even if you feel like it’s fine. Keep doing it daily for however long it was prescribed for. It was probably given to you for that time for a reason. The last thing you want to do is start going backwards or hurt yourself again. A little bit of TLC will go a long way. Rehab paired with what you can train in the gym will help you massively in the long run. You’ll be in a better position when you’ve injury free, you won’t need to take as long to try and rebuild the weights. For me there’s no reason not to train and put yourself in the best possible situation.
Don’t get me wrong I’m sure there’s going to be occasions when training just isn’t an option but for the most part, I think we can still do something even if it may be limited. But I suppose it’s down to the individual and how serious of an injury they’ve got.
Here’s some good tools/ideas to consider returning to training after an injury:
Get your ROM back!
Use Tempo’s to build up weakened positions and strength in the joints and tissues. Slow eccentrics and isometrics are great building blocks,
Include unilateral work - this will help with stability and control.
Bands/cables can be useful tools to get some low stress volume in!