by Anders JP Eskilsson
Minor injuries happen to most of us from time to time. They can be annoying, especially if you are following a good training and nutrition plan. Injuries can be even more annoying and frustrating if you must take time off from the gym. However, there are ways to reduce possible performance anxiety during those times.
One of the main keys is acceptance.
OK… tell yourself that this time it’s me, but the next time it might be my friend or someone I’m competing against in the next show. So suck it up, and don’t dwell on it. Just accept it. I know it’s common feel like shit after an illness or injury. If you are highly motivated and can’t get to the gym you might feel like you will lose a lot of muscle. However, when it happened to me, it didn’t take long to realize that worrying about losing all I had accomplished was more psychological than physical. And even if I did lose a few pounds, anxiety would just make the situation worse. In other words, instead of fighting and worrying, accept it.
Another way of handling the situation is to learn from it. See the injury as a learning process. Or if it’s an illness, try to be pro-active. When it comes to injuries, I recall something that happened to me years ago when I busted up my rotator cuff after lifting weights that were too heavy and before I had acquired good technique. The injury prevented me from training, but I used the time to research on my own, and I found that I could actually prevent rotator cuff injuries by warming up properly and by performing specific exercises.
This principle is relevant for most injuries which occur in the gym. It doesn’t matter if it’s a knee injury or an injury to your back that needs abdominal training to stabilize the core to make it feel better. The acceptance approach should prevent anxiety when we must back off on the weights for a period of time. And it can also be a way to turn tragedy to triumph by reducing frustration. Your focus will be on the knowledge gained from the situation and how to train the muscles around an injury. Therefore, you should come back even stronger by training smarter.
In any case, I believe that most of us need to take off at least 1 – 2 weeks per year from training to let the body relax and to heal up the stiff joints and ligaments. Sometimes we also need to take 1 – 2 days off to let the muscles rest. So why not use the periods when you are not feeling well as recovery periods?
Always accept what happens and move forward from there. The more you work against something, the more you give power to it.