3 weeks ago I injured my shoulder. I wish I could say it happened while I was doing a badass set of 15 unbroken muscle-ups, but the truth is it didn’t. Like most injuries, it happened stupidly. I mean really stupidly. My hand simply slipped on a sweaty floor while I was demonstrating a bear crawl to my CrossFit class. As a result, I torn some shoulder muscles pretty badly and here I am, out off of my training program for at least the next 6 weeks. Unfortunate? Yes and no.
I won’t be lying, being injured sucks, maybe even more when you know you could have avoided it so easily. I felt frustrated, angry and started to think about the setback it represents in my athletic goals. But here’s the deal, the longer I curse and complain about it, the longer it will take me to recover. So this time I decided to accept it, put all the chances on my side and make the best out of everyday since it happened.
Muscle fibres don’t magically repair over night, that’s the way it is and I shouldn’t get emotional about it.
My body needs time to heal and I’m going to respect that. This is the part I have no control on. Muscle fibres don’t magically repair over night, that’s the way it is and I shouldn’t get emotional about it. What I can do however is help my body in this process. How?
Doing the prescribed recovery exercises
Even with my own knowledge of body mechanics, I reached out to several physiotherapists and asked for their advice. We’re working to make sure that I don’t get a “frozen” right shoulder and to keep everything in balance.
Even though my doctor advised me to keep my arm quiet for 4 to 6 weeks, it is crucial to keep my range of motion and avoid the development of scar tissue. Ask your coach for good tips about mobility, or get Kelly Starrett’s book – Becoming a supple leopard.
Balancing physical and mental stress
Studies have shown that psychological stress moderates the recovery of muscular function. One thing for sure, if I want to have a faster recovery, being mentally stress-free is now a priority. However, exercise itself is also a form of stress that is valuable to the recovery process as it triggers changes that make your body stronger. For sure it’s not the moment to go hard on the movements I can still do, but keeping a moderate and safe exercise level to generate that physical form of stress is truly beneficial.
Watching over my nutrition
Whether injured or not, eating clean and keeping the right balance in macro/micro nutrients is important. Not only in how you feel on a daily basis but it also reflects in how you perform. As my body heals from the inside, there are a few focus points while recovering from an injury. For example, certain vitamins and minerals: Vitamin C (plays a big role in the healing process by building new protein for skin, scar tissue, tendons, ligaments, blood vessels and is a strong antioxidant), Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Vitamin A, calcium, magnesium and zinc (connective tissue synthesis). This is a useful page if you need help finding food sources that contain these elements.
You all know that sleep is the most important time for recovery. During your sleep muscles and soft tissues have to time to heal. However everyone has individual needs on how much sleep they need based on their lifestyle. Adding a hour on my normal sleeping routine is a smart thing to do while I’m recovering.
Simply put, I’m refusing to let all the bad habits sneak in my life just because I’m injured. Keeping focus is actually more important than ever.
It’s also time to readjust my training on what I CAN DO instead of getting frustrated about what I can’t. With this attitude, I found out that with a little creativity, I could do much more without using my shoulder than I initially thought. Sure, I can’t hold a barbell in a front squat position at the moment, but what about attaching a Kettlebell around my hips and squating on top of two boxes? Yep, that works! I believe that training smarter is a great way to make injuries more bearable. Last but not least, I’ve set new goals and I’m grateful for each small step I do towards them. Because after all, those muscle ups simply must wait for now and I know I’ll get back to it eventually!
And you? How do you deal with injuries?