You’ve been training consistently: lifting heavier weights, running longer distances, running quicker times. You feel on top of the world! You’re super positive, and you feel as though nothing can stop you, like you can only improve and get better. You’re doing everything right, and nothing can go wrong.
Until something does.
One day, though you feel that you have done everything right, you get an unexpected surge of pain in your lower back while deadlifting. Or suddenly you feel a serious tightness in your hamstring. Or you unexpectedly get tripped in an important race and your ankle begins to throb.
Whatever it might be, it was totally unexpected, and out of nowhere you’re in pain. “Why did this happen? I feel like I am at my peak, nothing is supposed to pull me backwards. I take care of every detail of my workout!”
Next thing you know, you’re on the sidelines over the next few weeks. You are being told by doctors to rest and recover, when all you really want to do is get back into your routine and keep feeling unstoppable. So you do.
Sure, you may feel a little pain! But you decide to work through it. You lighten your workout a bit so that your injury can heal while you’re still working out. Unfortunately, though this seems like a potentially good idea, it can actually backfire in the long run. If you do not give yourself enough time to recover and get the proper recovery resources (trainers, chiros, PT’s, etc) then you may not be able to reach the same peak performance that you were able to reach in the past. This can be really frustrating.
This is unfortunately what happened to me back in 2011. And because I never gave myself time to recover, I continue to weave between injuries, and I feel as though I never returned to my peak ability.
It all started at the county championships of Winter Track 2011, during my 3000m race. I had only 4 laps left out of 15, and I was steadily running between the 3rd and 4th spot, fighting for the front. Suddenly, I tripped over my opponent’s foot and took a hard fall. I quickly got up, and I immediately knew there was something wrong with my ankle. However, the adrenaline took over me in the heat of the moment, and this allowed me to finish my race without a lot of pain sensation.
It was only after the race that I felt the heat rushing toward my ankle and a throbbing pain right along with it. I was supposed to run the 4×800 relay at the end of the meet, but I had to sit out. My trainers all told me to not run the rest of the season and to take a rest, but that didn’t sound like something I wanted to do. You see, I was very frustrated because it was my junior year and I was trying to impress college coaches for recruitment. So of course I ran over the injury, and started a roller coaster of peaks and plateaus in performance from there on out because I would constantly reinjure myself. To this day, my ankle still hurts once I hit the 78 mile mark in my long runs. If I had taken care of my injury when it happened, I think this could have been avoided, and I would have had much better performance during my senior year.
I think I learned my lesson from this, however; when I injured my back this year in college after deadlifting, I took 2 months off from the heavy weights. I spent the time getting stronger in my running instead, and consistently went to the chiropractor for adjustments and ultrasound heat therapy. I am slowly making a comeback to lifting again, but these 2 months of recovery are nothing compared to what I would have faced had I just tried to work through the pain and ended up injuring myself even worse.
Bottom line? If you get injured, yes it is very frustrating to have to take a pause and take a few steps back in your training, but it is well worth it in the long run. By giving your body the recovery it needs, you can avoid a roller coaster of injuries in the future and escape a lot of recurring aches and pains in your body.
I feel as though this subject isn’t talked about or even touched upon nearly enough in teams and in the gym environment. People feel as though they are stronger than their injury and can therefore work through it. Not enough people understand the consequences of not allowing yourself time to recover. Heal now, so that you can make an even stronger comeback later!
Stay fit and take care of yourself #fitufam!