Injuries Are Not Weaknesses – Coach Baz
Injuries are not weakness but they do show us where we can get stronger. I have recently experienced a minor lower back injury which has given me a new insight into experiencing injuries – especially when I wasn’t able to stand up for a couple of days.
*Before you read on I can’t stress how important it is that you get someone to help you with you injury whether that be a Physio, Ostio or a Sports Therapist, but below is a little bit of information to help you understand the process.
There are 3 main stages of injury: Inflammation, Proliferation and Remodelling. At this point some practitioners may quote RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevate) however the new thinking is something more along the lines of POLICE (Protect, Optimally Load, Ice, Compression and Elevate). Now for the purposes of this blog I am going to focus on P.O.L. as it is possibly the most important and relevant aspect of injury rehabilitation, also there is little evidence that ice actually has any effect on the healing process other than helping to numb pain.
The first phase, inflammation, is experienced for the majority of the first three days post injury. Basically what is happening is that blood is rushing to the area to help heal and protect the cells. At this point it is crucial that as little strain is put on the affected area. This means that unless you’re able to work around the injury or it’s not so severe that it gets more inflamed you should be doing next to nothing with it (Protect). After three days or so it is necessary to start thinking about Optimal Loading. What this means is, as you progress through the proliferation and remodelling phase of your injury you need to think about helping the fibres grow in the right direction. Let’s take a bicep injury as an example, if the muscle tears then we need to get the fibres growing across the tear; too much loading and the fibres will break producing more scar tissue but too little and the fibres will grow in a haphazard way. Imagine two opposing muscles growing fibres between the two of them, as each fibre reaches across to the other they need to build a strong bond, too much loading will just continue to tear them apart; too little and they grow week. For this reason, it is very important to continue moving the affected area during rehab to help align the muscle fibres.
So that’s the basics of what is happening in your body. How do you fix it? Well its ‘relatively’ simple but be aware that depending on the severity of the injury the amount of loading necessary to help repair the tissue will vary. So be gentile at first and build up slowly. Major things to think about are train the injury above and below the area of pain. If your shoulder hurts when flexed above 90o but stops hurting at 120o then strengthen in the ‘safe zones’ working around the pain, while gradually gaining more and more range over the days/weeks. Also it is important to understand that joints and limbs work in many different planes of movement so bear in mind that external/internal rotation, abduction and adducting can also be utilised to expose the muscle to more than one direction of contraction. As for rep schemes, think basic sets like 3 sets of 8 reps. The reason that this type of rep range is used is often because most of what is trying to be achieved is more activation than fatigue. This is probably one of the most important things that you could learn when it comes to getting strong. There are many aspects of your limb dynamics that come into play and simple limb and joint coordination is crucial to help heal an injury. Obviously as CrossFitters we all want to go heavy all the time but do your best to refrain from this. If it gets boring get inventive with the rep scheme and movements to keep it interesting.
Most of all start looking at an injury as a way of realising that there are areas in your training that need work. This does not mean that you have been doing something majorly wrong, sometimes going back to basics and looking at simple movement-pattern-programing can be the best thing to get you that Snatch PR (this applies to the un-injured too!).