The title of this week’s post should say it all. Yes, I’m injured. It happened about two weeks ago. Last week I mentioned in the summation of my training experience thus far that I hit a 220kg Back Squat again. Yeah, that’s the lift that did it. Somewhere between catching the bounce, and hitting parallel I felt a twinge shoot from the middle of my adductor up my groin, and then to the bottom of my glute. No, I haven’t gotten it checked out, but I’m pretty sure it’s a strain in my right gracilis (one of the muscles in the adductor complex), and it probably has to do with both a drastic improvement in lower-body mobility as well as some tight musculature on the outside of my hips. You know what, though? I ain’t even mad.
That’s right, I’m not. You know why? Because I’ve played this game for a while, and I know this for certain: if you train hard enough to improve you are training hard enough to injure yourself. There is no amount of mobility work, extracurricular therapy, or whatever else you can think of that can prevent it. It’s going to happen. Now, this isn’t to say that injuries can’t be avoided as they most certainly can, and the easiest way to do so is not be a fool with a bar in your hands. No, what I’m getting at is the fact that, if you’re performing to the limits of your ability utilizing complex, multi-joint movements with appreciable intensity it’s going to happen. Does this mean you’re out of the game? In most cases, hardly. Today’s discussion is going to revolve around how to approach injuries and what you can do to maintain training productivity. Were going to start with the mental side of things.
As I noted above, my current injury probably has something to do with my new found flexibility. You see, I’ve been working really hard since I started back at this to improve the range of motion that my glutes, hips, and ankles can achieve. Not to pat myself on the back, but I’ve done a bang-up job so far. I’ve never been as flexible as I am now. One problem. My body has never experienced squatting a 220kg load to the depth I’m able to achieve now. Unsurprisingly, doing so exposed a weakness, and I guess you could say I’m paying for it now. I got lucky, though. It’s just a minor strain. In the past, I’ve tweaked things and trained through them anyway. You wanna know what that got me? Two torn erector spinae, and a torn calf. This time around I’m being a little smarter, not listening to my inner-man, and instead opting to only perform movements that cause little to no discomfort. The disheartening part is that this means minimal squatting, no heavy cleans, jerks or pulls. In short, most of what I like to do! What now?
Re-asses and re-focus my goals, that’s what. I’m sure as shit not going to be productive if I try to build my squat or pulling strength; that’s just not going to happen, and under current conditions would only serve to make my injury chronic. Supposedly the words “crisis” and “opportunity” are roughly the same in Mandarin. I have no idea if that’s actually true or not, and don’t want to spend time researching the claim’s veracity. The point I’m trying to make, however, is that I have two options: I can fold my arms, squish my face, and furl my brow, or I can remain calm, think about what I can and can’t do, and remain productive. Maybe not productive the way I want to to be, but productive. And you know what? Sometimes what you want to be productive at might not even be what you need.
My footwork in the jerk needs to tighten up. I don’t move my feet enough when I receive Snatches in the bottom, and I’m like a fish out of water when it comes to comfort and stability in the overhead squat. These are all things I can work on that don’t hurt. Thus far they haven’t really held me back from adding kilos to the bar, but I can tell you there will come a time when these technique deficits will certainly do so. What an “opportunity” I’ve been given to focus on them! To be clear, I was working on these things before, but they were more like tertiary goals, little details to work on when I had to train light. Now they’re primary goals because they’re all I can work on safely. In essence, then, all my injury has done is left me in a position where, rather than letting these less immediate imperfections get solved over a broad period of time as secondary focuses, they’re now my primary training goals… For now. That’s fine. I can live with that. In fact, I’m actually happy I can still train at all!
What’s important here is understanding that, even though you’re injured, you’ve still got a job to do. If you want to be better than you are now you have to do something productive whenever you have the opportunity to do so. Feeling angry about it or sorry for yourself isn’t going to get you better. Being disciplined enough to recognize you have to make a detour in the plan, while still being versatile enough to do so is key. After all, when was the last time you’ve ever had everything go to plan?