Let me start off by saying that I am not a doctor and those affiliated with mindandmuscle.com, nor I are qualified to treat or prevent injuries. The following article is based on information that I have learned, being in and out of physical therapy offices, and simply being the most accident-prone human being in the world.
“While lifting injured, semi injured, or recovering,
we are not trying to gain muscle,
we are trying to condition the muscle and strengthen connective tissue.”
Whether your injury was sustained in the gym such as a painful rotator cuff or a tight lower back, or you were injured outside of the gym trying to keep up with your 2 year old hellion, this article can help. Also, if you are coming back from injury and you are working to get back to where you were prior, keep reading. I see many people in the gym who do not take care of their bodies and try to work through injuries. They all end up in the same place, hurt, or in the “closet of shame” because they quit. Don’t be that guy.
Fix Form and Stop Lifting Heavy
This may seem like an obvious one to some, but for some of us the ego is the last thing to go. This is a common mistake. The greatest athletes of all time became great because they were coachable. Be coachable! They listened and learned from others. Ask your lifting partner to watch form closely and pick apart your flaws while lifting. If you don’t have an educated lifting partner, ask the old guy that squats 600lbs and benches 450lbs. There is always an old school guy willing to help. Ask for brutal honesty and explain what you are trying to do. You must lower the weight. While lifting injured, semi injured, or recovering, we are not trying to gain muscle; we are trying to condition the muscle and strengthen connective tissue.
Warm Up Every Muscle Group to be Worked For the Day
If it is chest day, I will not just pump out 20 reps with the bar on the flat bench and call it good. When we are working to condition the muscle and prevent future injury, it is important that we pay attention to each muscle group individually that we will be working that day. On chest day, the following need to be warm before doing your first set of bench press:
Shoulders (lateral raise)
Tri’s (Skull Crusher)
Chest (flat bench)
Back (Lats more specifically if you are benching correctly. Use pull downs)
For Example, my shoulder warm up will be 5lb dumbbell lateral raises for 25-40 reps for 2 sets. This will flush blood into the shoulders without being detrimental to your strength during the rest of your workout. This technique will also strengthen connective tissue and build muscular conditioning. Yes, I said 5lbs: Go light! See, the chest is a large muscle group, but it is not that strong. The shoulders are very strong, but they are limited by their size. The goal here is to wake up all the muscles we will use for chest day so they all are working in unison.
Breath at the Right Time
When you breathe, you are stronger. When you take a breath in, and hold it, you are even stronger. This is not just a powerlifting technique. During each rep of your heavier sets, take a breath and the top of each rep and hold it until you complete that rep. This will tighten everything up and not only give you more strength but will also keep vulnerable areas like your back and neck safe.
Recovery: Make sure you are giving your body ample time to recover. In a vulnerable state, I like to give each muscle group a week’s rest.
Sleep: Sleep is when your body recovers and rebuilds. Get your 8 hours in.
Inflammation: Many power lifters and professional athletes ice areas to prevent injury. For example, icing knees after a heavy squat session will reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of pain and injury in that area.
Hydration: Water is essential for strength, recovery, endurance, and mental wellness. 90% of the population is dehydrated. Don’t be one of them. Enough said.