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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The Hot Gates (of hell)

Team WOD at I Will Crossfit on Saturday was dubbed ‘The Hot Gates.’ When the coach wasn’t looking, someone added ‘of hell’ to the title. The workout was tough as always.

WOD 16.2.20

We were divided into teams of 4. I worked with Tom, Sandy and Marylene. We decided to start with the tire flips. I always enjoy these and having a strong guy like Tom on the team helped a lot as 700 pounds is not easy to lift and flip. From there we moved on to toes-to-bar. We each did 10 at a time for what seemed like forever. I started out with strict toes-to-bar but my pace was a bit slow so I switched to knees-to-chest. My memory becomes a bit hazy from this point – probably induced by exhaustion and blocking the pain. I think we moved on to the burpees. Again we did 10 at a time. Sandy and I did this together and we pushed each other to keep a good pace going. She was quicker to the floor and I was quicker back up so we were always chasing each other. That may have been my best set of burpees ever. My technique must be improving. Yay, burpees! Improved burpee technique ahead of the Open start today can only be a good thing.

The rope climbs were cool. In the past, I’ve done the modified climb which involves lying on your back and pulling yourself upright, then lowering yourself back down. Three of these counts as 1 rep. On Saturday I decided to try the proper climb to the top. I managed to do it for the 8 reps which made up my share of the team’s 30. Another positive step forward in my crossfit journey We finished with push-ups. Twenty at a time to begin with and then down to 10 as we tired. Again, Sandy helped me keep pace. Time ran out before we could finish the sit-ups. I think this was a blessing in disguise because the teams that chose to do the sit-ups earlier in their rotation said that was the toughest round.

All-in-all, a challenging but fun work-out. Highly recommended as a team WOD. Give it a try and let me know how it goes. What are some of your favourite team or partner WODs?

 

Row, row, row your rowing machine

IWC rower

Since there were only 3 people in the class today we were given a choice: the pacer test/beep test or rowing. We chose the row and ended up having to do 5000m on resistance setting 6. Before this morning, the longest distance I’d completed on the rowing machine was 3000m so this was going to be a challenge. Our coach said we should aim to finish in around 18 minutes. My pace for 3000m put me closer to 20 minutes.

Before we started he gave us some useful tips:

  1. The start of the row should be like a seated deadlift – keep the arms straight and push back with the legs.
  2. Once the legs are nearly fully extended, lean back slightly and pull the arms towards the chest to complete the pull.
  3. The recovery is the same motion in reverse.
  4. Make sure you don’t hunch your back during the stroke – engage your core to prevent this from occurring.

The first 3000m were not too bad. I stayed on a 4min per km pace. After that it became patchy. Some stretches were good, others not so much. I finished in 20 min 30 sec. So now I have another benchmark to beat.

We finished the class with the following:

WOD 16.2.18

I didn’t use the Rx weight for the thrusters. I bailed on that and went with 75#. By the end I was flat on the floor – exhausted and drenched in sweat. Just another day in the box :-).

Holiday Fitness

I recently spent two weeks on vacation in Cape Town, South Africa. It was my first visit home in a while and I had a ton of catching up to do. Family and friends I hadn’t seen in 5+ years. In addition, my folks were moving house and the main reason I was back was that my brother was getting married. So I was expecting a full schedule. My biggest concern was that I wouldn’t have time to train. I didn’t want to lose all the fitness and strength I’d worked so hard to gain.

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Bird’s eye view of Cape Town

In order to ensure that I stayed fit, I made some plans.

Ahead of the trip I contacted Cape Crossfit to inquire about drop-in classes. Thankfully they did have them and I signed up for a morning class two days after I arrived. The members of this box were extremely welcoming and the two WODs I participated in were great. I bought a T-shirt and wear it proudly to my local box.

My brother and I worked out together at his gym. We focused on pecs and ran on the treadmill.

I packed in my speed rope – I suck at double unders and thought I could practice while on holiday. On one of my quieter afternoons, I spent some time whipping myself on the arms and legs and cursing the world in general. I think I did get a bit better but it’s certainly not perfect yet. My sister’s dog, Ringo, must’ve thought I was crazy – he kept his distance throughout.

My running buddy, Craig, invited me to join him on some training runs with his club, Spartan Harriers. I enjoyed two runs with the club – the routes were nice and it was cool to train and catch up with one of my best friends. I wanted to run some routes I used to do when I was still living in Cape Town. Newlands Forest was an old favourite – amazing scenery and challenging hills.

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Views in Newlands Forest

Another favourite was a route through the Constantia suburbs which included a green belt stretch. I used to run with another good friend, Anton. The route was close to my sister’s place,  so it worked out well.

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Views in Constantia. Elephant’s Eye cave in the top left hand photo. I used to hike there with my wife.

When I was at university, I spent a lot of time on the squash court. I played competitively for a few years and the campus had two courts. Robbie Samuels is a legend on this campus when it comes to squash. He plays 4-5 times a week and has been doing so for more than 20 years. I joined Robbie for a session on the courts. It’d been a while but it was a fantastic workout and loads of fun. A trip down fitness memory lane.

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UCT Medical School squash courts

So all-in-all, I managed to continue training during my vacation. I feel I maintained my fitness and strength levels and came back home ready to move forward towards my goals. The keys for me were prioritizing my training and using the time as an opportunity to reconnect with friends and family.