Hopping off the pain train

While most (if not all) injuries are preventable, sometimes even taking all the proper precautions (i.e. proper recovery) cannot exempt us – as athletes – from dealing with acute pains. However, this does not mean you are destined for an injury, it simply means that you should be prepared and know what to do in case something does come up.

​Now, of course before being reactive, we all should be proactive, by practicing proper recovery mechanisms such as:

  • Stretching daily
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Eating proper nutrition
  • Consuming adequate water
And most importantly, listening to your body! When we feel pain, our body is trying to tell us something. While people will use the phrase “push through the pain”, this should not be taken literally. If you feel pain or something just doesn’t feel right, then you should stop!

Full disclosure: while there is some PAIN involved in the pursuit of CrossFit, the pain from intensity is the burning you feel in your lungs and muscles as you attack your workouts – this sort of pain is OK. However, if something feels like it’s going to pop or tear; it is most likely about to do just that – this sort of pain is NOT OK. So, make sure you know and can identify the difference between “good” pain (helping challenge the body to adapt) and “bad” pain (mechanical destruction where training cannot continue).

As recreational and competitive athletes, like with any sport, injuries do happen. While there are definitely precautions to take to prevent injuries, sometimes they still happen, so it becomes increasingly important to know what to do in either case.

In most cases injuries ARE preventable. Proper recovery mechanisms and progressions ensure that you are giving your body time to heal and that you are not overloading your body when it is ill-prepared, respectively. When we workout, we tear our muscle fibers (leading to the soreness we feel day(s) afterwards), which means that if we want them to perform again, stronger than before, we must give them time to heal. If instead we continually neglect proper recovery, the risk for greater tears and other injuries (through compensation or over-loading) increases. The key is to know and listen to your body – if you think the weight is too heavy, it probably is, or if you think you’re in pain, you probably are.

Now let’s suppose that you thought you were recovering well and using the proper progressions, but were still faced with an injury or were left dealing with a pain that just wouldn’t go away. In most cases,

  • Resting the body part that hurts (exact duration will depend on the pain rating)
  • Stretching the muscles around it
  • Icing to reduce inflammation
can reduce the pain. However, if the pain persists and rest does not seem to be working, seek help and advice from a professional because something else may be going on – do NOT fight through the pain. Once the pain has subsided and you have been cleared to do exercises with that body part, ensure you have a plan to ease back into things. Hitting 90% on day 2 upon returning will only lead to a greater chance of re-injury.

While injuries can be discouraging and depressing (that is normal!), they can also be a great opportunity to work on other, possibly greater weaknesses. For instance, if you have an ankle sprain, spend your time on the pull-up bar and/or inverted working your upper body strength and gymnastics game. Stay positive and focus on what you CAN do!

So, next time you feel a pain (minor or sharp):

  • Listen to your body and stop doing whatever is causing you to feel pain
  • Give the muscle the proper amount of rest to recover and ease back into things when you are ready
  • ​Seek professional help if there is no improvement
In the meantime, while recovering and resting, focus on those exercises which do not cause you pain and which will not impede your recovery. CrossFit is FULL of diversity and there are a million different exercises to do – most of which you probably didn’t even know existed. So treat an injury as a learning experience, and the next time it happens (which is hopefully never) approach it with an open-mind and diverge your focus towards working on weaknesses. Then, when you’re fully recovered, you’ll be ready to come back stronger (mentally & physically) than ever!

If you’re ever unsure of what to do in this situation, come talk to one of the coaches & we will work together to help come up with the best solution for you!

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