Often, the experience of an injury can feel like a grim tunnel with no end in sight. However, as a fitness enthusiast who recently suffered a calf tear during a kickboxing session, I’ve come to realize there are valuable lessons hidden in this journey of discomfort and healing.
But I don’t want to paint such an optimistic picture right out the gate; getting injured is brutal, especially when it’s significant. Fortunately, I only have a low-grade medial gastrocnemius tear so I will be fine. But I know many of you reading this have been through worse (or will someday find yourself confronted with a significant injury). So, read on, and let me show you what I learned through my most recent injury.
1. Embrace Alternative Training Methods
When you’re dedicated to your fitness routine, it’s easy to pour all your energy into your favorite lifts and workouts. However, being sidelined due to an injury often forces you to explore other fitness avenues.
I’ve been injured before, but being unable to move or load my leg correctly forced me to switch things up. I found myself doing a lot more upper-body work, core exercises, and upper-body conditioning than I would generally avoid. For instance, I used things like the rowing machine and ski erg to build up my upper body endurance. In turn, I kept my workouts going strong and maybe even improved some weaknesses I would have normally overlooked.
The key takeaway is to maintain this diverse training approach even after your injury has healed. Cross-training is essential for long-term growth and longevity. Don’t just stick to what you’re good at; diversify your movement and exercise routines.
2. Learn to Heed Your Body’s Signals
Ignoring your body’s distress signals is a common pitfall many trainees and athletes fall into. I was no different. There’s a fine line between pushing your limits and overstepping them, and I learned this the hard way (literally, because I tore my calf while stepping backward).
Understanding Your Threshold
While healing from my injury, I became more attuned to my body’s signals. I started recognizing the difference between the discomfort of a good workout and the warning signs of pain and strain. This awareness is crucial to prevent future injuries.
The valuable lesson here is to respect your body’s limits. If something feels off, take a break and cross-train instead. When you resume, do so gradually. The aim should be to have no pain immediately after your workout or the next day.
3. Implement a Cautious Comeback
When an injury has sidelined you, it’s crucial to slowly ease back into your training regimen. The goal is to avoid re-injury and to build your performance back up gradually.
Upon returning to my training, I started with light workouts. I reduced the amount of bouncing I was doing in kickboxing and cut the workouts much shorter. I listened to my body and took walk breaks when needed. Monitoring my body’s response over the next 24 hours helped me gauge my progress.
The critical insight here is that a slow and steady approach will serve you well when you return from an injury. Whether you’re returning to training after a stressful period or a seasonal break, this philosophy holds true.
4. Cultivate a Positive Mindset
Facing an injury can be a mental battle as much as a physical one. It’s natural to feel down, but it’s crucial to cope effectively and keep a positive mindset.
Handling Negative Thoughts
I learned that controlling negative thoughts can be as simple as recognizing them and consciously shifting focus. This mental resilience is beneficial not only during the healing process but also when facing challenges in future training sessions or competitions.
I love kickboxing and Muay Thai, like, a lot. So, not being able to do what I love is disheartening. But, I knew there was light at the end of the tunnel with patience, perseverance, and positivity.
The important lesson here is that mindset matters. It’s okay to feel upset about your situation but don’t let it consume you. Cultivate positivity and use it to overcome your aches and strains and reach your fitness goals.
In conclusion, while an injury can be a frustrating setback, it’s also an opportunity to grow stronger and wiser. It teaches us to diversify our training, listen to our bodies, come back with care, and maintain a positive mindset. So, remember, every cloud has a silver lining—even when that cloud is an injury.
Brian Murray, FRSC, FRA
Founder of Motive Training
Did you recently injure yourself? Are you looking for ways to overcome injuries? Reach out to us today.