Anyone who has played sports or has taken training seriously is going to experience an injury every now and then. It’s important to listen to your body and not train through the pain. The old “No pain, no gain” cliché is tired, and no, it is not weakness leaving your body. It should be common sense, but if it hurts don’t do it. Don’t be a meat head, training through pain does not make you a tough guy, but you can be smart and train AROUND pain.
Learning to listen to your body, use common sense, and be smart to train around injuries can help you maintain your strength and fitness levels while injured and help you recover faster.
Training through the pain can do additional damage to your body, but one of the biggest mistakes you can make when you're hurt is to give up training altogether. The doctor or PT that tells you to stop training and rest is well-intentioned, but I don’t think lying in bed watching Netflix or playing fortnite is the solution. Strength builds resiliency, letting yourself get weak is not the answer.
A lot of research is going to indicate that those who consistently exercise experience less chronic pain than those that don’t. This would lead us to believe that sitting and resting is not the best way to recovery, and get back to full health. Our body’s ability to recovery and heal itself heavily relies on our overall health which is improved through exercise.
It’s best to take a proactive approach to your injury and use the weight room to aid in recovery from injury and prevent future ones from happening. Training around your injury may mean reducing the intensity of your workout, avoiding certain exercises, or maybe even only training one side of your body. There are studies out there that suggest strengthening one limb can actually strengthen the other limb as well(1). So even with a catastrophic injury like a torn ACL or UCL it’s important to start strengthening the opposite limb as you rehab the injured one. Once you’re back to full health this can help you get back on the field and playing at a high level sooner.
Staying consistent with your training when you’re hurting can be tough, but it’s best to do what you can as soon as you can to limit the set back from injury. Consistency is king to achieve a high level of success so we can’t let an injury set us back too far. Train smart and around pain rather than through it, and you can get back to full strength sooner rather than later.
1. Ehrensberger M, Simpson, D Broderick, P Monaghan, K. Top Stroke Rehbil.2016 April 23:(2) 126-35. doi : Epub 2016 Feb 24