If you happen to have checked in on my training log, you would notice that it has not been updated in quite some time. The reason is twofold: 1) I fully admit to having dropped the ball as far as logging on and entering the info for a while and 2) I suffered an injury that significantly altered my ability to exercise.
So what happened? I rather ambitiously attempted to do 2 workouts in one day. A lower body workout in the morning involving squats and a 380 pound yoke walk, and then a sprint workout/rugby practice in the evening. I had planned to ease into the sprints (as it had been some time since sprinting) and go light at practice. This is an approximation of how well I stuck to this plan:
This injury occurred just over 5 weeks ago. Self-assessment led me to believe it was a strained right rectus femoris (aka I “pulled” my quad/hip flexor). It is also possible it was a strained right sartorius (also a hip flexor of sorts). It is hard to distinguish on oneself because it is difficult to both resist and assess the parts you are checking at the same time. Also, the injury was located up by the proximal (near) tendon, not down in the muscle belly or by the knee. Since the rectus femoris and sartorius muscles have similar functions, it is not really necessary for rehab purposes to distinguish further. Either way, moving my right leg made me very unhappy. 🙁
My training was derailed! All my gains in the squat and deadlift, the yoke walk and atlas stone lift, the farmer and sandbag carries: ERASED! Plus, I would have to find another reason to ingest abnormal amounts of calories each day….
With the injury located at the hip, it not only precluded all lower body exercises, it also prevented me from doing any “core” assistance exercises. “What will I do?!” I asked myself in a panic.
I decided to train my upper body 3-4 days a week. Generally, I benched at the beginning of the week, overhead or incline pressed toward the end of the week, and worked associated pulling exercises in around those lifts. This is what I’ve been doing for over a month. And I am bigger and stronger. Case in point, my new numbers: bench 175×3, overhead press 111×3, chinups 215×2. In addition, my mother noted I am “too big up top”. When your own mother looks at her female child with disappointment like that, you know you’ve reached some awesome upper body goals.
So, unless you’ve had a very serious injury, there is always something you can improve, something you can work on or work out. A sprained elbow is no reason not to go to the gym. A sprained ankle is no reason not to go to the gym. A strained hamstring is no reason not to go to the gym. There are endless modifications that can be made to accommodate a temporarily gimpy body part. If it’s lower body, work upper body. If it’s upper body, work lower body. If it’s one side, work the other side and everywhere else. If it’s not bad and it’s one small muscle, work the antagonist (opposite) muscle.
As long as your modification is still bio-mechanically safe, there’s no reason to skip out on lifting. Don’t let yourself fall into a “this is the end” mindset and give up. The only thing that has kept me from giving up and letting all my hard work fall to crap has been going to the gym regularly and figuring out everything else I CAN do. It’s keeping me in a routine and it’s keeping me motivated.
If you are unsure how to work around a troublesome body part until it heals, feel free to get in touch and we can discuss what you can do to keep yourself on track and motivated. Happy lifting!