COPING WITH INJURY AND LESSONS LEARNED
What being injured and the rehab process has taught me.
Last November I suffered a knee injury - the result of over training, training through injury and grooving bad mechanics. This was a massive blow to my training as I was making great progress until this point and had just spent a week in Iceland training with some of the best CrossFit athletes in the world. I was so motivated and ready to get back to smash my training. The most frustrating thing in the world for any athlete is not being able to do just that.
For the first 3 months of my injury I was in the process of leaving the army and starting a new business, CrossFit Iceni, which took up all of my time. As a result my injury became neglected and work took over. Which as a result only made things even worse. Training sporadically with zero structure and no rehab programme meant I was now starting to overtrain all the things I could do easily and pain free. This lead to complications as compensations took over and training slowly ground to a halt - we wont mention my mental state….
This is when Susy took over. Once the gym was open and some sort of structure had re-entered my life it was time to get my training back in line. Between Susy and another osteopath, John Singleton, we came up with a rehab program. With this came one of the hardest things. cutting back my training volume, starting from the beginning and pretty much learning to squat again. The basis of this was to develop proper movement patterns that would eventually lead to my recovery.
It was extremely tough mentally at first to ‘Rest’, (the second most dreaded “R” word after Rhabdo.). Accepting this is necessary is a massive step in any recovery programme. The Frustration levels of going back to basics and sucking at them drove me mad and resulted in a very unhappy Jan leaving the gym many a time.
Fortunately I have a great team around me - Suze, Alan, and all the people at the box kept me on track. Weekly treatment from Suze on my knee meant I could keep progressing and moving forward. After a month of rehab and developing these movement patterns things started to improve. And fast. It wasn't long until i was squatting again without weight. This is when the hands on treatment from Susy really started to help. Keeping on top of the tissues that hadn't been worked properly for months was essential - eventually I started to add the weightlifting and more dynamic movements back into my training.
This was a crucial period in the rehab programme. I needed to avoid the classic, “I’m cured! I'm going to go and compete next weekend!”.
John Singleton has just released “The Progrm”. I asked him about starting on the high volume 2-a-day programme to which he very wisely advised me to go to the 1-a-day - much to my disappointment. But he isn't at the top of his field by chance! I took his advice and cut my training back down yet again. Following The Progrm to the dot, I quickly realised why the 1-a-day was the correct choice. This is where i learned that the quality of the training session far out weighed the volume. I was attacking one good session a day and within a month i was feeling so good with my training.
This wasn't the end of the road by any means. After completing 2 months of 1-a-day training it was time to increase the volume of my training. Moving from 1-a-day to the 2-a-day was a massive step for me mentally more than anything. That feeling of “I’m back” is a great feeling.
LESSON 1 - HAVE A PLAN
A plan of action that will address the problem. It doesn't have to be fancy. The best solutions are often the most basic. But the hard thing is getting those basics right. In fact better than just right. Perfect.
LESSON 2 - STICK TO THAT PLAN
Be patient. You're not going to magically be cured in a week of doing a few drills 3 times a week. Or after one treatment. Which brings me to the next lesson
LESSON 3 - THINK OF TREATMENT AS AN INVESTMENT
If your car breaks you take the bill. The same applies with your own body. For some reason people can spend thousands of pounds on a handbag but when their own back hurts they think 50 pence ibuprofen is enough. WRONG!! We are not experts. Find someone who knows what they're talking about (an Osteopath for example) and who you trust and do what they say.
LESSON 4 - QUALITY. NOT QUANTITY.
This is something I believe in for life in general and it applies perfectly for training. Less is more especially when coming back from an injury. You're body isn't ready for 2/3 sessions a day at all. So find a training programme and stick to it. No more. No less.
For me The Progrm 1-a-day was the perfect balance between training volume and intensity. Covering all basis making sure you’re training everything, and most importantly getting better at everything.
LESSON 5 - HAVE A GOAL
This is hugely important for your mental state during a time of injury. Having an end goal and something to work for making all the difference. For me it was this years Battle of the beasts qualifiers. To be in a state where i was able to do anything that the qualifiers would throw at us. Keep your goals achievable and realistic.
LESSON 6 - DON’T FALL INTO THAT “IM CURED!” TRAP
This lesson applies to 2 stages. Firstly once you're feeling good again and are starting to get back into training DON’T get carried away. Take things day by day and listen to you're body.
Secondly once you've been training for a couple of months and you're crushing 2/3 sessions a day don't forget where you started. There was a reason you got injured the first time.Take some time out for you - do some maintenance, see a physical therapist, groove those good movement patterns and remember to rest!