We all know someone who likes to hit the gym hard, very hard. Sometimes they go too hard and injure themselves. Or they hurt themselves outside the gym but want to continue to train in the gym so they don’t lose their gains. How could they keep their gains but don’t further injure themselves? In this article I will break down how to train around an injury. I’d like to note that you should always get the injury checked out if by a qualified professional if you are concerned about it. The worst thing that can happen is causing further damage to it. In this article, we will take a knee injury for an example. The principles apply to almost all other injury unless they are very severe. Ask your personal trainer in Richmond and Surrey on how to train around an injury.
Open-chain body-weight movements
This is a great first step to stay in the gym with an injury. This step simply gets movement in the injured area without putting weight on it. With our knee injury example, simply prop the thigh area up and work on slow extension and flexion. Open-chain means the hand or foot is free to move. With simple movements like this we are able to get blood flow around the injured area. The reason for this is so nutrients can be delivered and wastes can be removed. Ultimately, this accelerates the recovery process.
Improving stability in the injured area has the ability to increase strength in the area, prevent future injuries and accelerate recovery. In the early phases of rehabilitation/recovery, it is difficult to dynamically load and work the injured area due to pain symptoms and/or lack of mobility. With stability exercises, little or no movement is needed to stimulate training effects. With our knee injury example, simply standing still on the injured leg begins to strengthen the stabilizers. To progress, close your eyes. This will challenge the body’s balance and in turn challenge the knee’s ability to keep stable. Ask your personal trainer in Richmond for knee stability exercises.
Work on surrounding muscles
In this step, it is important to start very easy with very light weights. Again, we do not want to take one step forward but two steps back. Begin with bodyweight movements then slowly load the weight. Let’s take our knee injury example again. Because the knee joint only performs flexion and extension, it is simple to train the surrounding muscles: hamstrings and quadriceps. Personally when I am prescribing rehab exercises for the knee, I would recommend getting comfortable with hamstring curls first. The reason for this is if you overly train the quadriceps, it may produce excessive force on the patella (knee cap) and that may cause further injuries. Once hamstrings are strengthened, begin slowly working on knee extensions to strengthen quadriceps.
At this phase of rehabilitation, the pain and swelling should have mostly subsided and the individual can stand and move more or less pain-free. The purpose now is to build strength through multi-joint movements. You may also treat yourself as a “newbie” going to the gym for the first time. Keep things simple and light. It is also recommended to use partial repetitions or assisted repetitions. With a knee injury, a variety of exercises are recommended depending on the severity and recovery of the individual. You may use exercises such as box squats, assisted squats, hip hinges, partial squats and the list goes on. An important point here is to challenge the individual in the injured area WITHOUT causing any pain. Once pain is felt, you must immediately regress the movement to a pain-free one. Nothing is worth re-injury.
Once pain is successfully managed and basic strength is developed, follow the familiar to continue to load the injured area. Stick to what works. Continue building strength.
Don’t train that area
Sometimes, just staying off that area will do it more good. However, that does not mean do not go to the gym. You should train other areas. As with our knee injury example, train the upper body – stay off the legs for a session or two. Remember, nothing is worth re-injury. Ask your personal trainer in Richmond about how they train around injuries.
Until next time,