Injury denial – it’s only a twinge.

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Lost in the injury wilderness?

I’ve been reading about injuries and talking about injuries quite a lot over the last couple of weeks. I’ve noticed in a number of articles that there is a tendency among many amateur athletes and weekend warriors to ignore and/or deny that the injury exists. We carry on training hoping that it will resolve spontaneously. If not spontaneously, we apply various balms to the affected area and hope this has the desired effect. If we’re feeling especially worried we may resort to massage. We consume copious material online in an effort to self-diagnose and find treatment option. Consulting a medical professional seems to be the last thing on the list.

The reason I’ve been doing the reading is because my elbow hurts. It started when we were doing clean and jerks during a morning WOD not too long ago. I’m not too good on the clean part of the move and I think this is when it happened. During the movement, you are meant to push your elbows forward and up to catch the bar in the front rack position. I was able to do this but I don’t think I execute(d) the move quite right and repeating it incorrectly for however may reps we did that morning probably didn’t help. It wasn’t too bad after the workout but I haven’t stopped training regularly since it happened. I’ve also been attending my regular Kuk Sool Won martial arts classes during this time. We do a number of different techniques and movements which require extension and flexing of the elbow. I’ve felt some pain during the classes but not enough to make me feel I should stop.

As you can tell, I’ve one of those sportspeople who carry on regardless and hope for the spontaneous change which will signal that I’ve trained through the injury and it fixed itself. This morning I skipped my WOD. When I woke up my elbow was too sore. Might be time to take this more seriously. But this post is not meant to be about how I choose to treat/not treat the injury. It’s more about why I avoid admitting I have one at all.

It’s not the first time I respond in this fashion. Any time I have an injury or think I have one, I immediately go into denial mode.

I don’t get injured. It’s a minor ache which will pass by tomorrow. If I keep working out, it will just go back to normal. Once the muscle is warm I won’t feel the pain anymore. Pain is where the growth happens. Etc., etc.

Why do I do this? I think one of the reasons is that most of the time it works. Most of the time it is a minor twinge that I can work through. That passes by that same afternoon. Most of the time. Another big reason – probably the main reason – is that I don’t want to stop training. I don’t like missing a day. Sport is my bliss. Sport is my passion. I feel out of sync with life if I am not participating in some form of sport or exercise on a regular basis. When I’ve been able to maintain consistency in my training schedule for a number of months, the mental anguish I feel at the prospect of missing a day, a week, or more, outweighs the physical pain I’m feeling because of the injury. I know fitness and strength don’t work like this but I imagine both draining from my body drop-by-drop and the only way to stop the leak is to train.

So I train. I make the injury worse. Knowing that I am going to end up with a longer lay-off eventually but hoping against hope that the injury just disappears.

Good grief. I think I need help :-).

Anyway, I took today off from crossfit but I still cycled to work. I’ll see how my elbow feels tomorrow and have a chat with my coach to find out if he has any advice.

How do you deal with injury? How do you deal with the time off training? Any tips on not going bananas? Any studies out there on how long it actually takes to start losing significant fitness and strength gains?

 

 

 

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Saturday Suffering and Monday Moaning

WOD 16.2.13

Saturday’s Partner WOD

Saturday morning at I WILL CROSSFIT is always fun. For a given value of fun.

Coach Matt has us doing partner or team WODs. This Saturday we had a workout titled “Strung-out, Backwards, Upside Down, Fran.”  It was a tough one for me. Up until Saturday, I’d not been able to do Thrusters at 95 pounds, so I started the workout feeling rather nervous. My partner, Steve L., and I decided to split the reps and also to do 10 at a time.

After the 1 mile run, Steve made quick work of the first 10 Thrusters. I approached the bar with a boat load of trepidation. But Steve kept telling me I could do it. I reached down, raised the bar to my shoulder and went into the squat. Braced myself for a split second and pushed up. Transition into the press. I did it! I almost dropped the bar with excitement because I seriously didn’t expect I’d be able to manage. I calmed myself quickly though, there were still 59 more Thruster reps and 60 more pull-ups to complete before the workout was done. All-in-all, happy day for me. I was an exhausted puddle of sweat at the end but I feel a bit more comfortable about the Open now because 95 pound Thrusters are inevitable. Thanks for the encouragement Steve!

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Monday morning and the alarm goes off at 4:45am. Aaarggghhh. Already! Nooooo! I was still sore from Saturday. My quads, my abs, my lats, my shoulders. Actually, my whole body. I got ready anyway. The Open is less than two weeks away and I need all the training I can get. We always start our warm-ups with a jog up and down the gym track. This takes us by the WOD board and we all try and sneak a peek at what new torture awaits us. Today it was going to be a bunch of Clean and Jerks.

Cue further trepidation. My Clean technique is rather dirty. It needs a lot of work. I had maxed out at 145 pounds when we did baseline testing at the beginning of the year. At 155, I couldn’t get out of the squat. I was just stuck and ended up having to drop the weight.

WOD 16.2.15

Monday’s WOD

I started out conservatively – just the 45 pound bar for the first 6 reps – and focused on technique. It still sucked. I’m still working on the bouncing the weight off my hips on the way up. I lose power and momentum in that part of the lift. For the 5 reps I added another 20 pounds to the bar. Still manageable despite my fledgling abilities. Coach Matt pointed out that I could be more explosive on my split jerk as well. For the second set of 5 reps I added another 20 pounds (I’m more used to kilograms since I’m from South Africa, but with pounds it always seems like so much more, so I’m happy to report in pounds 🙂 ). Another 20 for 3 reps – still ok. For the first set of 2 reps I went up to 135 pounds. Pretty close to my 1 rep maximum of 145. I managed both reps but it was definitely more of an effort now. I took a bit of a longer break this time after loading the bar with a further 20 pounds. 155! If I lifted this, it would be a clean PR!

The other crossfitters all paused their lifting to watch and all shouted out various words of encouragement. I approached the bar. Set myself. And went for it. I got the bar onto my shoulders and went down into the squat. Here’s where I lost it last time. I gathered myself and lifted. And made it! Yay!!!! A clean PR!!! I still had the jerk to do and just about managed to get under the bar and lock out my arms.

A good day for PR’s. Steve S. also managed to improve on his clean max.

I only managed 3 rounds of the METCON but a good couple of days in the crossfit box for me. Still lots of work but I’m seeing the improvements thanks to brilliant coaching from Matt.

I’ve started cycling again. So look out for some updates in that arena soon.

Until next time. Thanks for reading and keep making a ruckus!