Workout injuries are the worst. And yet, so many people take the wrong steps when it comes to recovery.
The goal is obviously to get back into the gym without making the injury worse. However, if you go about this the wrong way, your workout injury could become even worse than before.
Let’s look at an example: let’s say you suffered from a bicep tear several months (or years) back. You feel a slight ache in the bicep, but it doesn’t feel anything serious.
You’ve probably been dealing with this slight ache no problem for some time now. However, the question must be asked: why haven’t you been to the doctor? Are you hopeful that it will go away? Do you think it is slowly repairing itself?
What you don’t realize is that the pain continues to persist for a reason. And like most people, you ignore it and work through the pain. Perhaps someone on Reddit told you to do so…
But, this isn’t how an athlete should treat his bodies. And make no mistake: this website is about training smart like an athlete.
More than anything, your body could be asking you for a break from any sort of heavy lifting. When you refuse to give your body a break, injuries can get worse. You’ll never recover if you continue to hit the weights week after week.
I know people who have had serious tears in their muscles and they didn’t even realize it. The pain was for subtle, nothing serious at all. However, one trip to the doctor proved otherwise.
I don’t mean to scare you with this truth. But, I must bring you the truth. You may have a serious injury that you mistaken as something minor.
The Lifespan of Injury Enlightenment
What exactly is “injury enlightenment?”
It’s the process you go through when you realize you have an injury that you’ve been fighting for some time now.
I feel like “the lifespan of injury enlightenment” sounds more pleasant than “the process of realizing you’ve been neglecting your body’s cry for help.” Or maybe I’m wrong and full of broscience. Therefore, I’ll do my best to link to sources to prove otherwise.
For example, this study states that weight lifting is actually one of the safest physical activities you can do. Yes, people get injured lifting weights, but that’s due to incorrect form and ego.
When lifting weights correctly, your chances of injury are very tiny.
With that said, weight lifting injuries are more common now than ever before. Why? Well, more people are working out and lifting heavy today than ever before.
You can thank Instagram for this and the thousands of “experts” telling everyone to lift as heavy as possible. This advice is terrible and it’s why I can’t stand the fitness industry.
As I’ve proven before, you do not need to lift heavy weights to build muscle or burn fat. Anyone who says otherwise is lying to you. And, you’re increasing your chances of injury ten-fold.
Anyway, let’s get into the process of recognizing an injury. Only then can you recover from your weight lifting injuries.
One of my favorite lessons I heard years ago is this:
You can’t heal yourself from any sickness until you first admit that you’re sick.
You’re performing pull-ups and you feel that shoulder in your ache that doesn’t seem to go away. You think nothing of it so you continue with the reps.
“Maybe I’m just dehydrated…” you think. Or “Maybe its from helping my friend move his couch 2 months ago.”
I couldn’t tell you exactly what it is. But to ignore the pain and push through it could be setting yourself up for an injury that will last a lifetime.
Next thing you know, you’re on the operating table getting your shoulder tear repaired. A tear that you’ve had for years without knowing that only got worse because you never got it checked out.
Due to your denial of any serious injury, you never took the time to visit the doctor. Denial of a serious workout injury is very common. At least get it checked out for peace of mind.
2. You Self-Diagnose Using The Internet
This is usually what happens after you realize you’ve been injured. However, doing this can cause quite a bit of unnecessary anxiety.
Don’t run to WebMD for your symptoms. No, you do not need to amputate your arm. No, you do not have a rare blood disease (well, hopefully not).
I know it’s tempting to believe everything you read on the internet. Fake News is a serious problem in today’s society because a bunch of nobody bloggers think they know everything (myself included lul).
Another website full of cancer is Reddit. In my opinion, it’s one of the worst places for information on the internet. Yea, it’s entertaining, but it’s a world of opinions. Some are accurate, while others are wild. Tread carefully on Reddit when it comes to health and fitness advice.
And last but not least, Twitter. I can’t stand this place. 99% of the comments you read on Twitter are people fighting on the internet. It’s crap. Avoid.
Stick to the professionals for diagnosis. See your doctor for peace of mind.
3. You’re Not Going To Die. That’s A Plus.
The good news is that a workout injury isn’t going to kill you. Unless you drop the barbell on your skull. But the chances of that happening is extremely rare.
The point is to lift smart. Stop with the super heavy weights if you don’t have a spotter. You don’t need heavy weight to build muscle. This is a fact.
Lifting heavy without a trainer to supervise your form will only lead to injuries.
Plus, if you already have a tear that you’re not aware of, you’re only going to make it worse.
I know WebMD makes it seem like every injury results in cancer. However, I’m pretty sure that this isn’t the case.
4. Changing Your Workout Routine
This post is about helping you reduce further injury and recovering the muscles in question.
This means that you might want to put the weight room on hold for several weeks, if necessary.
It could mean transitioning to a body weight only training routine until you’re absolutely sure that you can lift weights once again.
To ignore the pain and work through it could lead to further problems down the road. “No pain, no gain” is complete bullshit. The pain could be a sign of your body warning you of a potential serious issue.
I have a friend who injured his pec on a construction site. He’s a tough dude and never thought of it to be a serious issue. His pec would be sore from time to time, but it never really hurt him. That’s what he said, at least.
Well, 9 months later he made a trip to the doctor. Guess what? He’s been working with a 2-inch tear in his left pec this whole time! Crazy, right?
Accept the fact that taking time off from the gym and changing your workout routine may be required.
5. Temporary Alternatives To Weight Lifting
Now that you’ve decided to take a break from the weight room, you most likely want to know what to do with your time.
I know it can be tough to put the weights on hold when you’ve developed such a strong habit for the gym. But, this is part of the recovery process. It’s the only way to fully heal.
Breaks are beneficial in multiple ways when it comes to weight training. Not only do your muscles recover, but you mentally recover as well.
This may be your opportunity to try a new physical activity. For example, swimming is a very low intense way of working out. And, it’s a great calorie burner as well.
If your legs are free from injury, you can continue hitting the weights for a fat burning leg routine. Legs burn more calories than any other muscle group.
Listen To Your Body
And that’s pretty much the process of Injury Enlightenment. Yeah, not the best name I’ve come up with but it’ll do for now.
The key lesson here is that any form of discomfort could be your body trying to tell you something. My friend with the pec tear says he never felt much pain at all in the muscle.
But, it ended up being a serious issue that needed one of the best sports doctors to repair.
So, let’s quickly go over some ways to reduce your risk of workout related injuries:
Reducing your risk of injury should always be your first step. You accomplish this by lifting correctly with great form and light enough weights. Heavy weight only leads to injury over time.
Any chronic pain you have in a muscle or tendon should be looked at. Don’t wait. Get it checked. I know it’s easier said than done, but I hope this article has convinced you to schedule that doctor’s appointment.
If you do have a serious injury, then the next step is to recover. You must give your body some rest from the weights in order to recover.
Give yourself 2-3 weeks of complete gym freedom. Don’t worry about a loss of muscle mass. It takes a lot longer than 2 weeks to lose size. Plus, it will all come back really fast when you start lifting again.
The potential to reinjure yourself is too great if you don’t heed this advice. Then, you may sideline yourself for 6 months (or more). Nobody has time for that!
Take Some Time Off From The Gym
As I said earlier, focus on getting lean during this time. Yes, you’ll look smaller and whatnot, but you’ll be healthier than ever when you decide to hit the gym again. You’ll be ready for a lean bulk.
Spend this time off to focus on that business dream of yours you’ve always wanted to start. Catch up on TV shows and movies that you’ve been meaning to watch.
Go travel with your friends and see the world. Stay away from any crazy physical activities on these trips. Avoid the hotel gyms.
Before you know it, your break from the gym is over. You’ve recovered significantly during this time. Go visit your doctor for another check up and see if he gives you the green light for the weight room.
If he does, awesome! Hopefully by now, you have learned the importance of balance in your life.
And, that’s pretty much the lesson here. The issue isn’t lifting weights. The issue is finding the balance between giving your body the physical attention it needs while also giving it the rest it deserves.
When You’re Recovered and Ready To Lift Weights
Don’t believe the nonsense that you need heavy weights to build muscle. This simply isn’t true. This study proves that you can build muscle with light weights.
In fact, I highly recommend you learn to enjoy body weight exercises. This type of training can be very effective at building muscle and strength when performed the right way.
Don’t jump back into the gym and hit the heavy barbells. Instead, spend time with light weights and perfecting your form.
Start off with a 3 day per week PPL split. If you think you can handle more days, then by all means go for it! Just test out the waters before you dive in.
Listen to your body! If your shoulder still feels aggravated and you haven’t seen a doctor yet, now may be the time to seriously consider doing so.
The Bottom Line When It Comes To Weight Lifting Recovery
Chance are, you’re reading this because you’re already injured.
Or, you’re worried that you may have injured yourself and you’re wondering what steps you should take going forward.
I’m not a doctor, which means I can’t sit here and tell you exactly what to do. My goal with this article is to convince you to take your pain seriously, even if it’s very slight.
You never know how serious an injury may be until you get it checked out. Like my friend with the pec tear, he said it never really bothered him. It didn’t hurt, and he continued to work construction for several months.
Recovering from a workout injury can be a real downer. But, this is a perfect opportunity to explore other ways of fitness and training.
And, it’s a perfect time to clean up your diet and lean down to the Warrior physique. Get shredded brah!