Ok so this blog is inspired by a recent episode of severe back pain and I wanted to share my experience as well as look at my thoughts on the best way forward when wanting to train when we have an injury.
Being in a lot of pain, limited in my movement and ability to carry out day to day tasks that are taken for granted, was frustrating to say the least. Not being able to walk properly, bend to get dressed, or hold my 4-month old daughter was a real pain in the posterior. In addition to the frustration of being in pain was the frustration of not fully knowing why. It wasn’t a direct injury from training, I hadn’t slipped or fallen. I woke one morning and boom there it was in all its glory. My opinion is that it was a build up of day to day things over a period of time. Lifting furniture when moving house, gardening, picking my children up, training etc.
From talking to many people about injuries the frustration of not being able to train or exercise is shared. But is it a good idea to carry on and plough head on in to the next session? Or is it time to rest, fix the problem and come back stronger and more efficient, allowing for better results? I think there’s an element in carrying on. There may be opportunities, depending on the pain/injury to train around it i.e. training body parts that aren’t affected. Sometimes though we just need to take a step back, address what’s going on so we can correct it, then get back in the game. Which is the route I took.
I immediately got myself under the care of a chiropractor, Jackie Cowie of Back to Chiropractic. Jackie took me through some assessments and got to work on treating me. I have to say without her knowledge, approach and support I would still be in a pickle. Alongside treatment I worked on my flexibility using foam rolling and a combination of static and active stretching. I also looked at what I was doing day to day and paid close attention to how I moved. During this period I limited my activity, had plenty of rest where possible, iced the area and generally looked after my body. The pain subsided over a period of time and it was time to start exercising again. Did I go back in the gym and start where I left off? No. This was my opportunity to strip everything back and rebuild. Laying strong foundations and being better and stronger than I was before. It’s that good old saying ‘you can’t build your castle on quicksand and expect it not to sink’. You can apply this to health & fitness in general when we look at supposed quick fixes and rapid short term results.
Anyway, I digress. So if I didn’t go in to my next few sessions lifting the weight I was before, what did I do? I kept it simple. I worked on body weight exercises that would challenge me but not ruin the work I’d done to get me to this point. There were weaknesses to work on, it was no good me pretending I was where I was before my back went. It’s important to emphasise that my flexibility work is a daily thing and not something that should be stopped the minute we are no longer in pain. Prevention is the way forward.
I continue to build on my training sessions and I’m really pleased I took the approach I did in resting and rebuilding. You can’t change something without standing back and looking first. Sometimes we just need to move the goal posts/timescales. Be sensible, be realistic and be honest with yourself. Think long term.
For more information on Jackie Cowie and the work she does visit Back to Chiropractic