Injuries, rest and recovery

29 Apr

I doubt very much that there is an adult alive who can say they have never suffered an injury of some severity during their life. Whether it be through everyday life, or as a result of some sort of training, we have all been there. Injuries are frustrating at best and quite often derail training programmes entirely; some even ending careers. It might be strange to think then, that a high percentage of these are avoidable. Before you roll your eyes, this is most certainly not a health and safety lecture, though at this point it seems only sensible to point out that good form, both in the gym and in life, is a good starting point! A good general rule with which to begin, is that as you get fitter, you will be less prone to injuries. This is specifically true of sprains, strains and pulls. By your whole body grows fitter and stronger, it also becomes far more adept at self healing. It is vital, however, to remember that overtraining can easily cause injury. There are several simple, but highly effective, methods I use to reduce the risks.

The first, in logical order, is a warm up. People’s opinions of a warm up differ hugely from sport to sport, but here are some principles I consider vital. Gradually raise the heart rate using the areas of your body (possibly all of it) that are going to be involved in your workout. This will mainly consist of moderate intensity movements with little or no weight, gradually increasing the range of movement (ROM). This is the mobilising phase. It is an option to then stretch, not for a great deal of time, but dynamically, only holding a stretch for a few seconds.

Once you have mobilised for 10 minutes or so, consider performing the movements you plan to train, but scaled to suit. As an example, if you are going to dead lift, do it first with an empty bar, focussing on form and ROM.

Once you workout has begun, if it involves periods of rest, you can further mobilise and stretch as you see fit. Remember, as with all of these methods, nobody can feel what you feel, you know your body best!

Post workout it is vital not to simply stop dead. Continue to stay mobile, at a far lower intensity, before stretching; this time holding each stretch for 25-30 seconds. Possibly more if YOU feel the need.

Now it should go without saying, supplements can hugely aid recovery and may reduce the soreness (and risk of pulls and strains) the day after. PPS Nutrition stock some excellent products associated with muscle recovery and regeneration.

It is also vital that rest and recovery are planned and followed. In direct contradiction to many popular theories, I only take two or three days off (rest days) per month. I do, however, take at least one recovery day per week, as and when it’s required. An example of a recovery day would consist of 30-40 minutes of light metabolic conditioning, running, cycling, swimming etcetera, in order to warm and loosen the muscles, followed by an extended period of stretching and flexibility. Whilst this will barely affect any fatigue you are experiencing, so long as you correctly moderate the intensity, it will contribute to the recovery of your muscles a great deal.

Before I move on to a specific problem area, I would like to explain my opinion on the difference between an injury and soreness. Whilst many injuries are just that, and training requires restructuring around that, some are quite simply not. Many people will experience ‘niggles’ and soreness, aches and pains when they either try a new style of training or increase intensity in a short period of time. Depending on an individual’s mindset, this can be exaggerated by the mind and/or even used as an excuse to quit. Remember, the more you train the easier it gets, and if you quit now, it will be even harder next time you try. But again I emphasise, nobody knows your body as well as you!

I am going to talk a little now about the rotator cuff. This is a small group of muscles and tendons in the shoulder. Complaints of grinding or pain in this area, and indeed tears and other such injuries, are common to many sports. Most commonly, problems are associated with moving heavy weights. The rotator cuff is responsible for stabilising the shoulder through a huge range of movements and holds. If you are training CrossFit, you will most likely use it everyday.

To mobilise the rotator cuffs, a series of swinging and circling movements with the arms, gradually increasing speed, is my preferred way to start. This can be interspersed with dynamic stretching as you see fit. After a few minutes of this, move to a pulley machine (literally all I use these for) and select one of the lowest resistance settings. Put the cable about hip height and move each hand in turn across and away from the body. These movements can be repeated as much as required. It is even possible to incorporate sets of these to strengthen the rotator cuff. I have not only found these methods to reduce soreness and grinding, but to increase strength in major lifts!

So as for today, the normal vitamins started my day, quickly followed by a bacon and mackerel breakfast. Added today for the first time was D-Aspartic acid which I imagine will work well.

First thing, I agreed to motivate my mate through his fitness test, a short sharp wake up to set me up nicely for the day. My hour off for lunch then consisted of a ‘Tabata’ sprint session. 20 seconds sprint. 10 seconds recovery for 3 minutes. 2 minutes rest the repeat. This was followed by 4 sets of 100m sprints, building speed every 10m. After this, a reheated chicken stirfry I made last night. The workout was fuelled beforehand by PPS Nutrition’s BCAA Matrix and CCE and after by Nxtgen 5 in 1.

This evening session was the mainsite WOD from Saturday. It is named ‘Klepto’ and is without doubt the hardest WOD I have ever completed.

4 RFT
27 box jumps 24″ box
20 burpees
11 squat cleans 145lb

Even using the same PPS Supplements as before, and adding SF Xtreme , this workout was right at the edge of my work capacity. Two things made it worthwhile, doing it with a great training partner, and the elation I felt once the severe nausea had subsided. As a result of said nausea, once I had refuelled with Nxtgen 5 in 1, I had to wait to eat for fear of losing it.

Once I had found my stomach again, I had mince with leeks and mushrooms cooked in gluten free gravy.

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So now all that’s left is the most vital component of recovery and reducing the risk of injury; my 8 hours sleep!

Tomorrow I will be talking about scaling workouts to make them accessible to almost any ability level and prioritising progress in certain areas. Sleep well all. Comments welcome, use #FitTrain on Twitter.

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