So, I got injured last Saturday. I couldn’t lift my arm over my head, my neck was stiff, and I couldn’t turn/rotate my spine at all. It happened obviously by doing something REALLY cool. Except it didn’t, I looked down at my phone and felt a sharp pull in between my scapulae, radiating up to my neck.
First, we have to understand what I mean when I say “injury”. I do not mean a catastrophic injury, but rather our typical chronic and acute musculoskeletal injuries. These are the “I pulled my back out” and the “my shoulder hurts” injuries. People will often refer to them as pulled muscles, or nowadays, they jump right to thinking they tore everything and will never live the same life they used to lead and love.
When you get injured there is an initial emotional response. You cannot ask your body what the injury is, in fact it’s still developing. Before you can think about it, your body INTUITIVELY revisits the injury, to get a good sense of whats going on and if what you felt was just an awkward moment or an actual issue. In my case, I began to move my spine and scapulae. Once you are sure there is an injury, some people will completely panic, pop Advil, schedule a doctors visit, and sob uncontrollably for the next 24 hours.
How about a different approach?
Today I will tell you about the approach that I take with my injuries, and will share some tools I have used over the years to not only rehab me back, but quicker and quicker each time. If anyone says you won’t get injured training, they are either naive or lying.
Research the injury. Immediately begin to investigate the areas that are most affected, and what movements/patterns trigger symptoms, or feel relieving.
Explore the ranges of motion that are accessible – or partially accessible through unloaded movement. Circles and waves are your best friends if you know the tools.
Extremely high frequency. I once had a back injury that most people would carry with them forever, but was back to full training in a few days thanks to hours of small waves and circles.
Pain is not what you think it is. This is where it gets sticky – but understand that pain is an extremely complex subject, one that we don’t really understand too well. I will tell you that MY experience is to as my teachers say “flirt with the pain”.
My recent injury required me to flirt with quite a bit of pain, and the first few days I was severely limited. At some points, I was performing Teacups for hours on end. I would be doing teacups with my free-hand while brushing my teeth, while I trained students, before and after dinner, while walking the dogs, and more. Among this, I used other modalities such as shaking.
The day of and after my injury I was training my Spine.
2 days after the injury I was hanging at the gym.
3 days after the injury I was touching the floor and rolling.
4 days after the injury I began light loaded dumbbell exercises.
5 days after the injury I practiced locomotion and single arm elbow levers.
6 days after the injury I practiced one arm handstands, front levers, planches, one arm chin-ups, back squats, and single arm push-ups.
7 days after the injury there is no memory of injury.
My body is my responsibility. I don’t pop NSAIDS, or require a doctors intervention, nor an MRI or an X-Ray. I saw the excellent Dr. Jake Altman on Day 6 for a tune-up once I was already feeling better, but knowing that the work needed to be done was truly on my end. I include this last piece because I don’t want to downplay other external recovery modalities, because they are useful (and I use them).
Do your research on your own body and be rewarded with faster and longer lasting recoveries.
Have an injury story you would like to share? Have we helped you with this process before? Please share with us!