You are probably asking yourself, how is this guy going to put a positive spin on getting injured?
Well, hear me out.
There is no doubt that getting injured sucks. It’s never fun and depending on the level of injury it can be down right awful.
But……… It happened. So what are you going to do, sit around and be bummed out about it, or embrace it as time to get better?
Anytime something bad happens there is always something good that comes from it. This mindset is something I have to remind myself of almost daily. Its not always easy. In fact, sometimes its flat out hard, if not seemingly impossible. On those days I remind myself by watching this. Its one of my favorites.
Ok, so you got injured, now what? Well first let’s look at the “Why”. In the world of sports medicine and rehab we know that the biggest predictor of future injury is past injury.
So what does this mean? It means that more likely than not you were suffering from some underlying issue, a compensation, an old nagging injury, or any number of things that set you up for your most recent injury. This means that your newest injury is most likely just a new manifestation or exacerbation of something you have been fighting for a while.
So how is this good?
Well, let me tell you my own story as an example.
When I was in college I injured my neck. I was in the weight room doing weighted dips and felt something in my neck pop. Over the course of the next few days and weeks the pain got worse and worse. Eventually the pain turned into arm and shoulder weakness. My arm got so weak that my normal 60lbs dumbbell curls turned into 10lbs on my right. Pull-ups turned into a warped version of a one handed pull-up with the right arm just along for the ride. But, I kept training. Yeah it was dumb, I know, but I just wanted to train, it was my only outlet and like many of you, part of my identity. Either way, it got to the point where my arm was so weak I had a hard time washing my hair.
So I began asking all my college instructors what they thought. This eventually lead me to see an orthopedic surgeon who came to our college to do sports evaluations. He ran me though a few tests and told me I needed neck surgery and to talk to my parent over Christmas break and that we would book it when I got back to campus.
My mind was blow. Twenty-one years old and I need neck surgery????
Nope! I’ll pass on that.
Side note: I actually got really luck because a few visits to my chiropractor improved my symptoms significantly. I wasn’t 100% but I wasn’t chewing my lip off in pain either.
Anyway, I went back to normal life and continued to lift as heavy as I could until I found Jiu-Jitsu. This changed everything. I was hooked from day 1. I trained as much and as often as I could. Of course this made my neck issues much worse. But I kept at it as hard as I could for about 2 more years. Some days were horrible. Some days weren’t to bad. I just knew that I was in pain everyday and that I wasn’t going to stop training because a week off here and there didn’t make much of a difference. I just figured this was life and I was going to tough it out.
Then one day in training, the inevitable happened. My weakness had returned a few weeks prior and I was having a hard time protecting my arm from attacks. I was basing out to stop a sweep and my elbow hyperextended all the way through.
In fact, it was awful.
But something funny happened, this new injury did something for me I never expected. It forced me off the mats for 3 months. That first 3 months were then followed by another 3 months of super careful drilling and flow rolling. I concentrated heavily on my nutrition to manage my inflammation (more on this topic coming). I went back to the weight room and trained smarter, not harder with various forms of stretching, mobility work, smart weight training. In the end this equated to 6 months of resting, and healing I would never have gotten without this injury. And guess what happed? My neck issue, well that healed too.
By being forced off the mats with this new traumatic injury I actually was forced to let my body heal and recover. By the time I returned to training, my neck was back to 100% and my elbow was close behind. I also felt better because of my new nutrition program and was even a bit stronger because I had to tighten up my weight training and concentrate on my weak points.
That injury turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me.
So what are the take homes here? It’s definitely not to be a meathead like I was. I was a try to tough out a serious cervical spine issue until it causes a traumatic injury. That’s just dumb. But hey, I was young. The take home here is that next time you get injured, don’t get all bummed out. Look at it as an opportunity to grow, to heal, to rest and to come back stronger!
In our next installment we will be discussing training and nutrition protocols for injury recovery.
About the Author.
Trevor Shaw is a licensed Chiropractic Physician, a Diplomate in the American Board of Chiropractic Rehabilitation, a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, Strong First Level II Kettlebell Instructor and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Black Belt.