Training While Injured?

One hour before our session I get a message from a client

“Hey Danny”

“What’s up?”

“I don’t think I can train today….”

“Why?”

“ I jammed my finger in the door”

My eyes roll.

“You still have legs right?”

As far as examples go with training around injuries this one is pretty comical. BUT, I would venture to guess that for most people who have nagging aches and pains strength training can seem daunting at best and frightening at worst.

As an athletic trainer, injury and pain was part of the job. Several of my student-athletes dealt with injuries due to the rigors of sport. As a current personal trainer I want my clients to be aware of two things. The first is why or how the injury happened and the second is that just because you have an injury does not mean you are forbidden from training.

HOW AND WHY ARE YOU INJURED

When thinking of your injuries, understand the how and why it happened. For instance, someone playing basketball sprains their ankle when cutting. This individual needs to understand that playing basketball is a risk (the “why”) and that cutting with their ankle (the “how”) is a complex skill. They may not have been prepared for the cut, but understanding this will give them a better framework of how and why the injury occurred.

In terms of weight lifting people may injure themselves for a variety of reasons including

  • The load they used was too heavy
  • Their total amount of training volume was too high (i.e. overall they put more stress on their body than their body could handle)
  • Technical errors compounded with too much load (i.e. you need to improve your technique)

In order to prevent injuries we need to be able to identify why it happened and then we need to change training variables so we don’t fall victim to the same mistake.

TRAINING AROUND INJURIES

Working in athletic and private gym settings it has always been key to identifying where the client or athlete has an injury. When someone was injured, we train the joints around the injury. For example, if someone has a sprained right ankle they still have a healthy left ankle, left arm, right arm, and torso. Even with one joint out of the picture there are still endless exercises this person can perform.

Here is an extremely abridge list of exercises that are appropriate for this individual without exacerbating their condition:

  • Floor or Bench Chest Press
  • Seated Cable or Band Resistance Rows
  • Seated Med Ball Tosses or Throws
  • Single-Leg Strength and Power Work
  • Single-Leg Push Ups
  • Plank Variations on One Leg
  • Half-Kneeling or Tall-Kneeling Chops and Lifts

Again, this is only a short list and it is likely more beneficial to express principles so that you can train around whatever ache and pain you may have. Here are three basic principles for training around pain:

Modifying Joint Angles to Alleviate Pain

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFLakhUa7-M

Finding the appropriate pain-free angle is important because if the angle does not present any pain, you can most certainly train in that position. Find that angle and exercise away! (The video displays split-squats but this can be done with several exercises.)

Changing Range of Motion (ROM)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0N1oUH865Q

Even though limiting the range of motion of an exercise may seem like there are no benefits, there actually is. Training your injured area in a pain-free range means it will get stronger through that range. Overtime, as your injury recovers, you can increase the ROM as long as it produces no pain.

Changing the Exercise Completely

If the exercise is too difficult to complete without any aches or pain, then switch it up. There are countless exercises at your disposal but finding an exercise that creates pain-free movement is essential. If you have attempted several exercises and still can’t find the one that is right for you, then train the injury-free areas of your body. You can still get a great workout in leaving the injured body part alone.

Even with all these recommendations, your head may be spinning as to where to begin. The best advice I can give is to seek help from a professional with knowledge of how to navigate your injury, recovery, and training. An experienced personal trainer, strength and conditioning coach, or physical therapist can develop an intelligent training program towards your goals while ensuring your injury is properly managed and progressively recovers.

At CLIENTEL3, we understand that not everyone trains injury-free, but sometimes accidents happen and we adapt to those situations to assign exercises that are best for each individual. Depending on the injury severity, training does not have to stop but it is a hurdle that we work with in a safe and effective manner. We educate our clients that they are not alone in their recovery and demonstrate and explain how they can continue to move and become stronger. If you have any questions about this topic, feel free to reach out at danny@clientel3.com.

Have an injury-free rest of your day!