Injury isn't the end of your training journey!
I’ve been training every second day to improve my vertical jump for volleyball as my goal is to reach over 90cm on my jump. Someone clearly had other plans for me as the very first game of the season, I broke my ankle while coming down on my opponent’s foot.
Most trainers are sure to come across a comment along the lines of “It’s easy for you to train consistently”. While it is true that is easier for avid gym goers to adhere to a strict exercise and diet plan than those who are new to a gym setting, it doesn’t make training any easier. If anything, it is the developed gym goers who have a harder time seeing any significant changes due to diminishing returns. And what you’ll often find is that avid gym goers have a specific training goal that goes beyond weight loss or muscle gain and that requires very specific training loads and exercise content. For example, losing fat can be achieved by a number of different training methods, whereas improving a specific trait like upper body strength requires greater rest periods with increased training intensity and reduced volume.
In my case, this year I’ve been training every second day to improve my vertical jump for volleyball as my goal is to reach over 90cm on my jump.
Someone clearly had other plans for me as the very first game of the season I broke my ankle while coming down on my opponent’s foot.
It’s difficult for a lot of people to muster the motivation to get out of the house just to start exercising, it makes it that much harder when even walking around the house is a chore. My exercise routine consists almost entirely of sprinting, jumping, plyometrics, lower body strength and most importantly; walking, so the injury has been devastating.
Keeping fit is made doubly as hard now that I can’t walk, as is the otherwise simple task of getting myself down to the gym. Even worse, there are few things that make you feel more powerless than watching your team lose and not being able to help. This injury really threw a spanner in the works as I refrained from training my upper body as to minimize the load that my legs would have to carry when jumping. Now I have found myself in a position where the only form of exercise I am capable of doing is upper body. It had been so long since I had trained my arms that I almost considered myself a newbie.
With my season essentially over, I looked for another goal to keep busy until I’m back on my feet. One of the exercises I have always found impressive and just aesthetically pleasing is the muscle up, I think everyone has seen someone pull their entire bodyweight over a bar after hanging from a deadstart. I haven’t been able to perform a muscle up since I was a scrawny teenager weighing in at 65kg soaking wet and after a 3 course meal, and even then I wasn’t able to perform it fluently. It wasn’t that clean or impressive a muscle up. Now after 6 weeks of training following my ankle break, I was able to perform 7 consecutive muscle ups with little difficulty. I am now sitting comfortably at 75kg which is actually 4kg heavier than I was prior to breaking my ankle, so this can’t be attributed to muscle atrophy (loss of muscle).
I’m not saying that I didn’t enjoy the process, but to say that it was easy wouldn’t be a fair assessment.
What’s important to note is that the first few weeks are always the most challenging, you’re not just shocking your muscles but your nervous system, for me this was a training stimulus that I hadn’t experienced for a long time. During this time period, I was able to make more progress with my upper body strength in 6 weeks than I have for a year of training, simply because I didn’t let my concentration waver and I maintained my consistency.
Your confidence certainly takes a hit when you get injured, especially if what you’ve injured is something that you’ve been working on for a long time, but you need to adopt a mindset of ‘I am going to dedicate all my time and energy towards the things that are in my control and disregard the things that aren’t’.
All the time and effort spent focusing on something we can’t change is a waste and it takes away from the time that could be dedicated elsewhere. Think of it like this; you might train 4 days a week for an hour each, you do 2 upper body sessions and 2 lower body sessions. You then break your wrist and can no longer engage in the same exercise routine as before. Now instead of performing the same split, you can do 2 lower body sessions with one of them focused on developing the posterior chain and the other on the anterior chain.
Injuries are viewed by many as a delay in their growth and development, a speed bump that they just have to wait to get over. We should view injuries as opportunities to hone in on any weaknesses that we may have and be grateful that we are able to train whatever is accessible to us.
Whatever the challenge, don’t let injury stop your goals!
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