Here are 3 tips you can implement to still get a great workout in while dealing with an injury or pain.
- Learn Correct Technique
I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of it before – getting sloppy with technique. Maybe you’re grinding it out to increase muscle mass or strength but how effective is it going to be if you’re doing it with sloppy form and risking the chances of injury or agitating an existing one? Moreover, not only can we potentially cause injury to ourselves but we are losing out on the true potential gains by not maximizing tension on the intended muscle groups.
Make sure you FEEL the right muscle working
You should have a basic understanding of what muscles you should be using & how they feel for every exercise. If you’re deadlifting & not feeling your hamstrings, lats & glutes engage, you’re not only missing out on potential gains but are risking injury. What happens is we then place excessive tension on the stabilizing muscles which aren’t meant to carry that load. So if you’re deadlifting and your lower back is the most achey, then you should take a step back and focus on re-learning proper form & muscle activation.
- Spend Time Focusing on Joint Health
What does joint health mean? Our joints are complex machines. If the muscles are imbalanced the joints won’t function properly and will eventually break down. Joint health can mean a myriad of things – mobility, stabilizing muscle strength, connective tissue movement, and balanced tension from all angles.
This is where seemingly simple changes in your routine can have significant differences on the overall results of an exercise and your potential strength. For example, you want to improve your squat strength. Spending time strengthening your erectors, glutes and hip flexors as well as working to make sure you can move through a full squat movement without compensation will improve your hips immensely.
- Become your own injury detective
Exercising with chronic pain can be very difficult for many reasons. It’s natural to be cautious about exercising as you don’t want to worsen your pain. But, there is usually a way to improve or eliminate your pain and, in the meantime, work around it.
By learning what muscles you should be using and learning how to feel them, you give yourself the ability to self-analyze the problem and take action.
Here are 3 steps to do just that:
1.Recognize the injured muscle groups
If you’ve been working out for years this should be an easy step but if you’re not sure, see a physical therapist to help diagnose the affected area.
2.Understand how you got injured.
This step can be tricky because the injury or pain can be caused by several things. It can come from years of accumulative wear and tear caused by a faulty movement pattern you weren’t really aware of. Pain can come from scar tissue and compensation patterns caused by old injuries eventually creating stress on a joint or muscle. Pain could also be from improper technique or overworking the same muscles on a specific angle at the joint.
Once you have a good understanding of your injury, it’ll be easier to create a plan to remedy the problem.
The goal is to figure out how to modify & correct instead of giving up!
3.Target lagging muscle groups
We all have at least 1 or 2 muscles or muscle groups that are underdeveloped. For example, most of us sitting and working at a desk for long hours leads to underactive glutes and hamstrings, tight chest muscles and a weak back. Also, natural imbalances result from favoring our dominant side.
What happens then is that some muscles end up weakened either by underuse or prolonged time in a lengthened position.
Once you figure out your imbalances (which, if you’re not sure, is something a good personal trainer should help you do), you then get very specific on selecting a series of exercises that’ll target those weak links. Doing this will help you re-balance your joints, stabilize your main moving muscles more and build strong body-awareness to optimize your mind-muscle connection.
I’ll use myself as an example: When I dealt with elbow tendonitis, this was due to overworking my lower half of the tricep, placing an emphasis on the lower joint of the elbow. What I was doing to over-work this area was heavily using exercises like elbows-in chest press, tricep extension and dips.
The two exercises I used the remedy the injury were (check out video for exercise demo):
1.Overhead Tricep Extension with cable rope:
Which emphasized tension higher up on the tricep muscle (closer to your armpit) and strengthened the weaker part of the muscle group.
2.Supine Grip DB Press:
Positioning my hands palms up, or supine, placed less stress on the lower portion of the tricep allowing me to continue to work my upper body and chest without exacerbating the injury.
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In all honesty, you won’t be perfect at it at first, but the goal is to learn to train smarter, not give up when you have pain. If you need help with this, we recommend a focused series of sessions with us to design the right approach for you to manage around your injury. You can find more about that on our website at pdxstrengthsociety.com.