4 Things I Learnt Recovering From An Injury
No one wants an injury, at least there are takeaways from it.
Knowing when to push and when to back off
For fitness and a lot of other things in life, everything worthwhile has to be earned, sometimes the hard way.
Sometimes, injury is a way of knowing there is a better way than how you are fighting for something you wanted. Some people (like me), have to learn from an injury. But for you, having more self-awareness would allow you to know when is a good time to push and when it is fine to leave it and try again later.
Countless times after the injury, I thought of why I couldn’t wait to try again the other day. I knew I was hitting a bit too close that day. There will still be another day to try again, that is if you don’t get injured.
During the injury that lasted a bit too long for me, I learned that patience is very important.
As mentioned above, patience to wait for another chance is crucial. It is OK if what you did wasn’t the biggest hit. There will be a chance to try again.
During the injury, I learned that sometimes, something has its own timing and can’t be forced. I’ve tried different therapy and different doctors, but at the end of the day, the injury is going to take as much time it needs.
Have patience with your work and with your body.
Separating how it feels and how it is
It is amazing to not feel the pain when I lean forward, but heading back to the gym is another beast in itself.
During the injury, my body got used to anticipating pain with movement, especially in the gym where it first got injured. Even though I knew it was fine, it didn’t feel fine all the time. The first time I stood under the barbell after almost a one-year break, it was scary. I worked up from warm-ups and drills, easing into the movement that caused the pain before. Slowly, my body grew to understand that it was fine to move.
Whatever you are trying to do, it is not always sunshine and rainbow, and it is fine. Take your time to evaluate what you are trying to do, maybe it is not as bad as you expected; maybe you are stronger than you expected.
From what I heard from others, sometimes you will enter the gym feeling low, but sometimes those would turn out to be the best workouts.
It is hard to be grateful when the injury lingers. But when it is going well, there are more reasons to be grateful.
I have no idea how my body healed itself, but I am grateful it did. Thinking back, even though there were things I couldn’t do when the injury was around, there were still things I could do which I didn’t.
This is not to say you should be grateful for bad things that happen, but this is to say that in every situation, there is usually still something to be grateful for. It may require you to pivot for the meantime before the next chance arrives, as long as you keep your toes in the water, there are still ways to go.
Hopefully the takeaways I had from the injury also help you. Below is some background information about my injury if you are interested.
Around April 2019. I was squatting a 5rm. I was a bit too stubborn with the last rep and the injury happened. I dropped the weight at once, but even the empty bar felt like too much. I finished the bench press in the session, but the deadlift was a bit too much, so I skipped it. I tried moving around, not expecting the injury to last too long.
In the coming weeks I still tried to train, not to my old max, but I tried to do whatever I could. It never got better (nor worse). It was painful to even deadlift a bar. It took a while before I stopped going to the gym. It was disheartening to see everything I couldn’t do. It probably was a good idea in hindsight. My injury probably needed more rest than I was willing to give it.
After about half a year, the injury was still there. Nothing changed, it didn’t get better, nor did it get worse. So I went and got an MRI around Nov 2019. The doctor said it didn’t involve my bones and was related to the tendons. But after undergoing physiotherapy, my lower back still felt the same way.
By Sept 2020, I tried visiting another doctor after a friend recommended them. Nothing changed despite going through the therapies. So after a cycle, I stopped going.
Around Apr 2021, I tried to bodyweight squat and did drills with a pull-up bar. The injury seemed to have improved. I did that for a few more days before I tried in the gym, turned out my lower back was fine and back into the game.
I still have no idea when and how it healed, regardless, I am glad it is the case. Going forward, I am doing a slower program progression to regain the lost strength. Afterward, it would be time to finally set new goals and start working on them. Slow and steady for the win.