Monday, December 7, 2009

A Minor Setback

Last Friday I teamed up with a couple friends and Blair out in Belgium to do mine and Blair's 3rd installment of our Trans-Continental Workout. it was a really tough one that included some pretty high intensity, complete torso flexion and extension (check out the post and video here). I then planned on taking a nice easy weekend to prepare for this great CrossFit Community Week I put together (read about that here) where I would be doing some pretty tough workouts every day of the week, and sometimes twice a day.

As I was sitting on an airplane, headed up to Albany to see my Alma Mater play some basketball and also to make a special visit to someone, my stomach began to ache like crazy. I assumed it was a lack of food which I knew was an issue by midday as I had rem all over the place with training and getting to the airport. so, during the layover in Philly, I grabbed a salad and got some dried fruit for a little later. but this didn't help, in fact, it started getting worse.

By the time I got to upstate, my stomach was really killing me. and by the time the game was over, I could barely stand up straight or even walk comfortably. I knew something was really not right.   As luck would have it, we had a couple doctors in the group of friends and they kept probing and prodding me (I actually think this was humoring them at my expense...) and with one persons (not one of the docs...) suggestion, and a littleInternet searching I discovered that without a doubt this was a muscular thing.  Thanks to the heavy, fast deadlifts, rowing and crazy toes to bar workout I did on Friday, I found that the dynamic torso extension involved in all those movements must have set it off.  Then, the sitting for about 4 hours in one of those small planes added to it all by me not sitting with proper posture and allowing my stomach to stay in a contracted position for so long.

Whatever the details on the actual injury, the fact is, I am injured for the time being and have been forced to move my CrossFit Community Week project to next week.  What I really wanted to talk about here was how to approach injury.  I am very lucky because my recovery is feeling pretty quick and I am certain I will be back at it this coming Friday or Saturday.  But I have been witness to a lot of pretty interesting injuries, a good deal of them bad enough that the person needed to take a really long time to recover.  One of the most common issues I have seen surrounding this sort of thing is depression. Most serious fitness buffs will go through some major emotional fights the second an injury sets in. The idea of not being able to work out is usually just a ridiculous concept for these people.  It's like taking away half your oxygen all of a sudden; you're going to feel pretty lost and helpless.

It's tough to deal with, but there is always another way you could look at things.  When an injury strikes, it usually occurs because of an imbalance, weakness or overuse (usually a combination of all those things).  I truly think that the best way to go about dealing with any injury is by first taking responsibility for it.  If you sit around feeling sorry for yourself it is not going to do anything but make you feel worse and probably prolong the recovery time.  Accept that it happened and then take the time to figure out why it happened.  Once you've figured that out, take the time to find ways to make sure your programming can involve re-strengthening that area, bringing it up to snuff with the rest of the body, and finally, reevaluating the entire body to find other weakness and imbalances that may lead to some other injury down the road.

Once you've found all that out, take whatever time you need to recover.  Always remember that a week or two off (or even 6-8 weeks off) is much, much, much better then never being able to do something again.  Always take the time to correct and help yourself.  It is ignorant to just workout like crazy and expect you won't hurt yourself.  It is smart, and in my opinion, your responsibility to yourself to learn about the best way to be and stay healthy and fit. 

I'll finish with that famous line of falling and picking yourself back up.  My favorite version of this is: "Why do we fall?  So that we can pick ourselves back up."  To me it is life reminding us that we must take responsibility for our own actions and when a setback takes us, it is for the sole purpose of having us overcome it and become better.  We are not victims, we are in control.  You are the only thing that can make you healthy; life will throw us all kinds of ups and downs and it is entirely up to us to make it a healthy and fit one.

Never Stop, GET FIT.

Josh Courage


edgy reggie said...

Ouch! Sorry to hear about your injury as I was looking forward to joining you at Capital Jiu-Jitsu tomorrow. But...there is always next week.

Your approach to and attitude about your injury (which is well-stated in this blog entry, by the way) is similar to mine. I didn't feel sorry for myself when I got injured; I kept figuring out what I was going to do for my "comeback." :-)

Take care of yourself, take your time in your recovery (not rushing back to "full speed" is also a crucial part of the recovery process), and I'll see you in one of Winnie's yoga classes soon for some core stretching. ;-)

Russ Greene said...

That's weird. Bob Vastine said a similar thing happened to him. He did a hard/high volume WOD, was OK, and then got on plane the next day and hurt his back.

The only other thing I'd add about injuries, is that with most injuries, you usually have some physical activity that you can still do. For example, I hurt my back olympic lifting, so I specialized in gymnastics for a few months. If you are limited to only a few exercises, it's a good opportunity to specialize and make progress you wouldn't have otherwise. I got my first press to handstand on the rings, for example.

Josh Courage said...

Reggie - yeah, no rushing back at all. I already feel pretty good, but know that i should wait a couple days AFTER feeling good before slowly getting back into it. The real question will be: CrossFit Balance Compitition on Saturday or not...?

Josh Courage said...

Russ - I guess these damn airplanes are killing us all. Or, my body is the equivilant of a 72 year old...jesus. All joking aside, you make a great point about being able to focus on diffeerent things when coping with injury.

I had a close friend a year back get a pretty serious injury to her ankle right as she was training for a major fitness test. She was so concerned with her running time that she over trained and it just gave out. After a short period of struggle, she ended up finding that with her foot out of the picture for a few weeks, she would just have to focus on the other aspects (pull ups, push ups, sit ups), all of which she had been neglecting because of her "inability" to run. When all was said and done, she was able to pass the run pretty easily; but the best part, she did so in no pain, AND set a female record for the other three events.

Pretty damn cool.