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If you train hard and maintain an active lifestyle long enough, chances are good that you’re eventually going to run into some sort of injury. Or maybe you already have a nagging injury from years ago that negatively impacts your ability to train the way you’d like to.
Whatever the case may be, there are three main ways to deal with injuries, and your course of action can make or break your long-term progress.
Try to ignore your injury and train through the pain. A lot of guys go this route due to either stubbornness or the desire to look tough to their friends. It’s one thing to gut it out if you’re a professional athlete, but if you’re simply a fitness enthusiast who trains for enjoyment and health, it’s a poor choice that often turns worse—and that can ultimately lead to a forced layoff from training altogether.
Stop training altogether until your problem resolves itself. Your injury may in fact heal with time, but sitting on the sidelines will cause you to fall way out of shape, and force you to play some serious catch up when you resume training. That’s obviously not ideal, either.
Train around the injury. This means that you continue to train hard, but avoid anything that hurts.
That means anything. If something hurts even a little, all you’re doing is prolonging the recovery process. You have to swallow your ego here. Think of it as taking a small step backward to be able to take many steps forward in the long run.
Your priorities are then twofold: Lay off the injured area, and train the rest of your body hard. This may mean training one limb and not the other (this will actually help you maintain strength in the injured one), taking your reps short of lockout to protect a joint, or switching from more high-risk exercises such as deadlifts to safer variations, like trap-bar deadlifts.
This is the time to be creative with your training, but most of all, to be patient. Just as muscle isn’t built overnight, coming back from injuries takes time, as well as the wisdom of knowing you have to leave it to your body, not your ego.
Check out Ben Bruno’s impressive feats of strength on his YouTube Channel.