It was a typical Friday. I hit the 4 pm lull and knew I needed a bit of adrenaline to get me into the rhythm of what promised to be an excellent night on the town. Time to squeeze in a quick session of Krav Maga.
After the first 30 minutes of warming us up and tiring us out, we got to the combo. A reverse hammerfist, followed by two others and an elbow, an advancing front kick to the groin, two roundhouses and a flying scissor kick to close it out.
I executed the first few times around. But I was almost out of juice. So on the last combo, my reverse hammerfist didn’t work out too well.
As soon as the meaty part of my fist hit the pad, I knew I screwed up. You know that piercing, burning, tweaking feeling like your joint is being electrocuted from the inside out?
Sorry about that, shoulder.
I went to the chiropractor Saturday morning and asked for her professional opinion about my bum shoulder. What’s my next move, doc?
“Don’t use your shoulder for a few days, Abel. Just take it easy. Rest.”
I knew she’d say something like that.
I’ve never been good at following directions, but I knew she was right. Time to put myself on the disabled list.
I haven’t hurt myself in years. It’s lame sauce. It’s not until something goes wrong that you realize how incredibly blessed you are to be functioning at 99.9% health most of the time.
Here Comes the Denial…
I tried push-ups this morning… nope. No way I can make it to Krav class tonight, let alone deadlifts in the shed (which are 2 weeks overdue). Why does this suck so much?
Because I’m secretly worried that I’ll get fat and weak.
Sure, I know how to drop 5 pounds in a day or two if I want to, but that still doesn’t liberate my emotional consciousness from the deep-seated dread that someday I’ll get fat again.
It’s unfounded, unfair, and absurd. But emotions aren’t rational. (And yes, even “fitness models” feel fat sometimes. That’s one of the problems of being known as “the guy with abs.” First world problems… I know, but real nonetheless. Great posts from Chris Walker and George Bryant here spilling the beans on body image issues.)
If you’re a serious athlete or competitor, you know that the torn ligament, busted thumb, or ripped cartiledge is a very small part of your pain. The real sting is completely psychological. In life, I always want to be moving forward at 110%, so setbacks like these can be tough.
Not working out is sometimes the hardest – and the absolute best – thing you can do. Pain is a signal; your body is communicating with you. Listen.
If I pushed myself right now, I’d be sacrificing weeks and perhaps months of future performance by tearing up my shoulder even more. The best decision is to mitigate the damage and just lay low for a week or two.
So let’s turn some lemons into lemonade.
How to Use an Injury to Your Advantage
- Focus on Correcting Other Nagging Injuries: Maybe you were ready for a break. Was your left foot a little crooked, your IT band a bit stiff, or back jacked up? Whip out the foam roller and the stick and get to work. Prioritize symmetry and balance and you’ll come back stronger.
- Ramp Up the Intermittent Fasting: Want to lean out quickly? Intermittent fasting can work like gangbusters. Overdo it and you might be sacrificing both energy and physical performance. But if you’re not performing, you’re not sacrificing anything and you don’t need as much food. Eat less and cut some fat.
- Use Your Extra Time to Reflect and Refocus: Sometimes you get in the rhythm and forget why you’re doing something in the first place. What’s your next goal? Have you hit a plateau? Whip out your notebook and sketch down your thoughts. You might find that you emerge with a bigger and better idea.
- Rest: We don’t sleep enough. We don’t always prioritize relaxation. Build in an extra meditation session. Go to the beach with friends.
- Engage in Relaxing Activity: Go for a walk. Do some light swimming. Unless you were run over by a truck, there’s probably something you can do to move your body. It’ll keep your mood up.
- Revisit your Sense of Identity: Are you putting a little too much of who you are into the fact that you’re a Crossfitter, a runner, a bodybuilder, or a martial artist? This can be a good opportunity to brush up on your Spanish, learn how to play the dusty guitar that’s been sitting by your desk, or hunker down and read that novel you ordered for yourself last Christmas. Focus on another piece of who you are and you may find that you come back to your athletics refreshed and with a new perspective.
It’s not so bad, chum. Keep your head up, get healthy, and you’ll rebound stronger than ever with a new sense of purpose. Enjoy your time off.
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What do you guys do when you break yourself? Any tips?