If you have a question you would like me to answer, click on this link here. This is a response to a question from a reader who asked: When recovering from an injury, how fine is the line between listening to your body & working with the recovery to just pushing through, ignoring discomfort?
Maybe you are like John in this story here, who would just push on regardless of his injury and/or then try and play catch up with the training. That story is a cautionary tale that came right with the correct advice in the end.
However we need to get back on task and answer the question at hand. To purely answer the question the line is pretty fine. Push too far and you may find yourself re-injured again. Don’t bother trying to push yourself and you may never get back to full fitness.
The All Blacks and other elite level sports teams are surrounded by support staff to assist them get the best advice possible. You also need support staff, be it your doctor, physiotherapist, coach and other key people, depending on the nature of the injury.
The key to deciding how close to that line to push is not a sole decision. You also need to draw on the knowledge of your physiotherapist and doctor, as well as your coach. If your coach has a background and qualifications in Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation then they can be a great benefit to you.
The lead person making the decision at any one moment in time needs to be yourself, as often your coach, doctor or physiotherapist will not be right beside you whilst you are out training. You need to be responsible for driving yourself back to full fitness and not allowing yourself the excuse that you are injured. The information and guidance you receive from your support staff will assist you in making the decision of how hard to push you.
If your doctor or physiotherapist is saying ‘no running (or some other activity)’, then ask them “at what point can you commence running again?” Don’t accept the answer of in a few weeks or some other arbitrary time frame. Ask them what physical tests can they get you to do to determine if you are ready to commence running again. Ask about the pathway to the solution to get back doing the activity that you currently can’t do. Have that as a goal and discuss it with all your support staff.
All injuries heal at different rates depending on a number of factors:
- How fit and strong the injured part was when it got injured.
- The nature of the injury (traumatic or overuse).
- The duration you’ve had the injury.
- What you’ve done since you got the injury.
What else can you still do despite being injured? Rather than getting down and out whilst being injured, look at what you can do. If you are a triathlete or multisport athlete you can focus on other aspects of your sport. If you are a single sport athlete, you can look at doing other exercise that will assist with developing key components of fitness for your sport. A marathon runner needs efficient heart and lungs and so does a cyclist, so maybe you can commence cycling whilst being unable to run to maintain or enhance the efficiency of your heart and lungs. Discuss this with both your physiotherapist and your coach.
Now back to that fine line. If it is physical pain you are trying to push through, this is no good and will put back both your training and your injury. However if it is discomfort from being unfit having not been able to train for a bit, then push on through it. There is a difference between the two, so listen to the cues your body is giving you.
Look for solutions from your support team and develop a plan to build you back to your previous fitness level.
Coach Ray is the Head Coach & Director of Qwik Kiwi – Endurance Sports Consultant and is a prominent triathlon and marathon coach in New Zealand. He holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Sports Medicine and a Post Graduate Diploma in Rehabilitation from the University of Otago, along with other tertiary qualifications.
Coach Ray specialises in assisting first timers and recreational athletes to achieve their sporting goals. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and 021 348 729. Make sure you sign up to his monthly informative newsletter.
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