Being a weightlifter, or really an athlete of any level, you spend majority of your time in the gym pushing your body and testing its limits. Eventually, probably when you least expect it, you will find that limit and your body will fight back.
Injuries happen, it really is just a part of the game. What differentiates a player from a champion is how you deal with that injury.
Nine weeks ago I severely sprained my right ankle, just 3 weeks out of my next competition.
My training had been at an all time high. One minute I was excite, the next I was forced to take sit and reevaluate my training. I couldn’t put any weight on my ankle for 3 weeks, and had to wear my cast for a total 7 weeks. To keep training I had to make some major programming modifications.
A lower body injury is devastating for a Weightlifter. With the legs out of commission, squats, pulls, snatches, clean and jerks, it’s all out of the question. So, I knew it was time to get creative. I also had to keep reminding myself that I was still an athlete.
I needed to continue acting like one.
An injury can be a blessing in disguise, if you let it.
A sprained ankle is not the end of a career, but a bad attitude could be. Remind yourself that this is really an opportunity to focus on aspects of your training that you didn’t have the time or energy for before.
Yes, training for recovery is not as glamorous as pushing the snatch and clean and jerk. You might feel a little depressed over getting weaker and losing progress, but that doesn’t have to be the case.
You can still do plenty to keep strong and in shape. You can make it fun and try new movements. Before you know it you’ll be renewed, recovered, and ready to lift heavy again.
Maintain your routine.
You ARE still an athlete. The amount of time you have allotted to the gym didn’t change because of this injury. So, show up and find a way to better yourself.
Do whatever you can to keep strong and fit. I chose to focus on my shoulders, back, core, triceps, biceps, and doing some cardio.
Here are some sample exercises from my programming:
- Seated Dumbbell Clean and Press
- Seated DB Snatch (similiar to the clean, just bring the load between the legs).
- Bench Press
- DB Chest Press
- DB Row
- Prone Row
- Skull Crushers
- Bicycle Intervals
Find a way to win.
You can’t hit a clean and jerk PR right now, but you can improve other lifts.
Keep doing what you can do. Push to improve and get stronger. Go into every training session chasing a win.
Whether you get the PR or not doesn’t matter as much as the fight. You showed up and put in the work. That’s going to make you a better athlete at the end of the day.
Maintain the intensity in your workouts.
If your workouts are usually high intensity, try and maintain that.
Hit the same number of movements. Be in the gym for the same number of hours. Try and keep your work-to-rest ratio as close to normal as possible. This will make the transition back to full blown training a lot easier.
It will also help you maintain your sanity.
143kg/315lb deadlift. First post injury PR! All that back work is paying off. #nobelt #ithinkimalumberjack
A video posted by adeezukier (@adeezukier) on
Be a good team mate.
If you are training with other people do not bring a negative attitude into the gym with you, it’s not fair to anyone. Try and avoid jealousy or dwelling on the negative,. Laugh instead, even if you don’t want to.
You’ll feel better.
It is your responsibility to remain supportive and help your teammates keep training as usual. You may not realize it, but that will likely be inspiring to everyone in the gym. It will show them that getting hurt doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you love.
Are you struggling with an injury? Do you have questions about training when hurt? Just leave a comment below, I’d love to help out anyway that I can.
Mentality is everything.
This is not an ideal situation, but when you’re injured you really don’t have an option. Stay positive, it’s essential.
Weightlifting is hard mentally, and physically. Although you will still be in the gym, take this time to unwind and rest. I promise, as the weeks go by you’ll become hungry again. That fire will translate to a new found motivation and better training.
Everyone loves a good comeback and yours is just around the corner. If you have any questions about injury or recovery, just leave them in the comments below. I would love to help out.
I do a lot of twisting with my hands and wrists at work. I would occasionally feel a sharp pain in my wrist while doing that on the same side as my thumb. Lately I can not put any pressure on my hands or it hurts. Can not get in front rack position and can only do push-ups on my fist. Any suggestions on how to mobilize it or should I go and see my doctor. Thx
If your pain is severe I would definitely see a doctor. Wrist pain is tricky as there are a lot of bones there. I would be more concerned that there is no damage to the scaphoid bone and then work with your sports doctor on proper rehab. In terms of continuing to front squat/back squat I would suggest using straps on the bar and holding the straps, also try paralettes or rings for the push-ups so your wrist can remain more neutral.
I have had similar issues as over the last year and a half of crossfitting, being an electrician I was having a real bad pain in my wrists cause from always gripping thing and twisting screwdrivers etc and having over tight forearms, every body is different but the things that help me was wrist/tendon stretches and massage on the forearms, I also bought an Armaid which helps you massage your own forearms, and used elastic wrist wraps,
I’m now at the point that the only exercise I have problems doing is HSPU which I do off DB’s instead,
Definite have a Physio look at it and then you can reflect off them and find what works for your body
any knowledge on sciatica? I tweaked my lower back ion a snatch pull about 6 months ago. Still dealing with tingling pain on the outside of my left thigh
Hey Justin! I would say it could be caused by impingement of the SI Joint but I would see a chiro. It could be as easy a fix as one adjustment or it may require some more attention. The chiro can definitely give you guidance on what to do going forward. Sometimes back extension on a GHD machine can help realize the hips and take pressure off of the symptomatic area, a set of 10-15 back extensions has helped be relieve pressure on my SI in the past.
After experiencing a stress fracture in my right foot last month, my training has been limited to almost exclusively upper body exercises ever since as I am confined to an orthopedic boot. This drastically changed my gym experience as I typically use Crossfit Football’s programming, but thank you for this article. It is informative as well as inspiring.
You’re welcome!! A lower body injury stinks but there is always something you can do! Let’s get JACKED!!
Thank you for this post!! I suffered a Webber B fracture of my fibula 4 weeks ago. I underwent surgery 2 weeks ago where they put in a plate, pins and reconstructed the ligaments. I haven’t let it stop and like you have been focusing on what I CAN DO rather than the limitations. You have listed some movements which I hadn’t thought of so I can not wait to get into the gym this afternoon and give them a go!!
Thank you! All the best with your recovery and upcoming comps 🙂
Good luck to you too! Let me know how it goes!!
How did you ease back into training? How do you know it’s okay to go back to your previous training?
I’ve been struggling with recurring tendonitis in my posterior tibial tendon on and off for a year now. When I get flare-ups I’m usually pretty good about backing off the things that trigger it for me (typically jumping and/or running), but I can’t seem to get the timing right on when to re-introduce movements. I either come back too early and increase inflammation/irritation, or I wait way too long out of fear. How did you re-introduce weight-bearing exercises for example?
Hey Mandy! Good question. I was really slow and steady when I reintroduced movements and I never went straight to the most complex of the exercises. For example, when I was ready to reintroduce the snatch i stuck to muscle snatch with no movement of the feet and little weight transfer to the toes. I would do the same with jumping – start with a low box, step ups, jumping up and stepping down, etc. The key is that you are not searching for pain/irritation/inflammation at the time you are doing the exercise but more so afterwards like later that night or the next day. Even though I felt like maybe i could do more it is better to be safe than sorry!
Great Article! I tore my achilles heel about 5 weeks ago and for the first week I could not really walk (it wasn’t diagnosed as a tear until last week) but I also knew that I could not sit with my legs up the entire time and reading about it I knew I could not do that for 12 weeks. I basically got up and started going to the box and maintained the same routine that I had prior to getting injured. My coaches quickly modified my programming so that it concentrated on upper body and core work that did not involve my feet and calfs. Maintaining your routine, determination and resolve is very important in the road to recovery!
Absolutely!! Laugh it off and realize that every time you are in the gym you are getting stronger no matter what you are doing!
Thank you for posting this article. I ruptured my Achilles tendon 2 weeks ago while doing double understand. I’m in a hardcast and non weight bearing for 3 more weeks. I still go to the box everyday. Its therapeutic for me. I just cross fit for lifestyle, not to compete. But I find myself mourning the fact that I won’t be able to squat weight for probably 6 months. I’m trying not to focus on that. But its difficult. Thanks again for the article.
Hey Koiki! You will always be sad that you can’t squat! It really is hard to stay positive but you have to be a good teammate, box mate, and every time you are there you remind everyone else they have no excuse! Find other ways to PR!
Thank you so much for this article! I fractured one of my vertebrae and herniated a disc 1 1/2 weeks ago and it’s really been getting to me. I haven’t been able to do much since the injury due to the pain, but it’s slowly starting to lessen so I’m hoping to make it back to the box next week. I know it’s going to be a long recovery back but like you said “everyone loves a good comeback.” Thanks again! Love following your IG page also! 🙂
Everyone has their own journey. Doing what you can is inspiring!
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I’ve been dealing with a shoulder injury for about a month. Been going to PT, Chiropractor, massages, and some acupuncture. Been a slow process and had to modify a lot of my training. Definitely been focusing a lot more on body weight activities and staying away from overhead lifts.
Injury started on left side and now developed some right side issues, probably from overcompensation through recovery process, but hey gonna make it through. About to start working through Pavel T’s simple and sinister KB training. If anyone has some excellent stretches to suggest, I’m all ears.
seated isolation over head press (with pvc)
chest/shoulder opener (upside down fingers/palm flat against wall and rotate shoulder )
Laydown shoulder opener (supinated grip on pvc, start at nose and press to floor and up to full extension)
laydown shoulder mobility (cross leg on ground, roll over til knee touches ground. With opposite arm extend to maximum reach – try to press shoulder blade to ground and while keeping pressure down rotate arm up to highest mobility and back like a windshield wiper in slow motion)
Any other stretches are welcome if you have em.
I’m a physio and I see lots of shoulder injuries in my practice. I see that you are doing lots of stretches for it. Normally I would ask a bunch of questions and get you to move the shoulder through range and observe and test mechanics, however I cannot 😉
So, I suggest you try a new and simple stretch that many of my ‘shoulder’ clients have responded well to. Here it is:
In the standing, extend your arm straight back as far as you possibly can with your palm facing the ceiling. Try to avoid it deviating out to the side as best you can. Return it to your side after 1 second and repeat this 20x. You will feel a stretch at the front of the shoulder. I would recommend you try only this for 1 or 2 days and take a break from the other ones, just to see if it makes a difference.
Just diagnosed with patellar tendinitis in both knees, a few days of CF Open, and more painful for me, unable to do Weightlifting, how you feel, you could recommend me to do to not lose what I have gained in my Weightlifting
I would suggest lots of treatment! Make sure your quads are stretched because a tight rec fem can exacerbate the issue. I would drop the volume of squats down if you are squatting a lot.
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Hi, thanks for the article, i needed to know that it was ok to maintain my intensity. I believe i injured one of my tendons in the right hip doin snatches, still learning the technique. now i have trouble with full squats and hip flexion. im worried though that i might overtax my upper body. how often did you train and how did you approach this if you worked out everyday?
Thank you for your post. I can’t tell you how much I needed to hear this. I have a severely sprained right ankle as well (multiple tendon tears and plantar fasciitis). I am a bartender and doctors told me I would be able to walk in my boot and back to work almost immediately. 3 weeks in and I’m still not quite there and have been finding myself feeling hopeless. I’ve been falling off my diet and feeling unenthusiastic about my modified Crossfit workouts. I battle with feelings of isolation, depression and envy. I know that I am the only person who has control over my recovery experience. I am trying my best to remain positive and be grateful for everything I do have but there are good days and bad days. Thank you for sharing your experience. It reminds me that this is only temporary and will make me stronger mentally and physically.
[…] How to overcome an injury […]
In a similar position (peroneal tendonitis) so I’m in a boot for a few weeks,
I really want to prevent atrophy of the calf that is in the boot – do you have any suggestions??