Injuries are awesome!

If you’re going to practice anything worthwhile, that excites you, gets your rocks off, you’re going to get hurt. Just like marriage, I love my wife dearly, but when I’m wrong she hurts me. I accept that I’m wrong all the time and I learn from it…. and become a better person, because she says so. That’s not true, or is it? Is this blog really a secret cry for help?

Injuries happen, they just do. We could all try to bury our head in the sand and live in fear or we can change our perception of what an injury actually is. There seems to be a fad of being proud of your emotional scars, that shape you as a person, what about the physical ones?

You are a product of the circumstances you put yourself in.

Pain is the ultimate teacher, no one gives a crap about their little toe until they bang it off a doorway, what about all the times your toe isn’t sore? Why do you not pay it the same attention then? If you have been training for a long time really try and think back to your first training revelation, when things really clicked, I would bet the majority of you reading this were injured at the time. There is no easier way to feel when your back is straight than when it’s sore.

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An injury is basically a chance for you to experience heightened awareness. I’m not saying run out, break some of your bones and you’ll become the best athlete ever, but adopting this mindset will save you sulking when you get hurt, actually allow you to be more productive and have a great learning experience.

I can say to people till I am blue in the face that “the knee is a slave to your ankles and hips” but honestly it’s only if you have ever tweaked your knee then you will realise how connected they are! The slightest foot movement or hip rotation and you’ll feel it in your knee, you can either say “ouch” or take that feeling and apply it to the other leg, can you adopt that same awareness to the perfectly healthy side? Is that side actually healthy? How did the injury happen? Was it really an accident or has this been accumulating for a long time and the incident just created the result that was always coming?

It won’t happen straight away, could take several months before you even notice the door starting to sit funny: that is wear and tear.

Wear and tear is an awesome phrase, I love it, people say it so carelessly. Moving efficiently significantly decreases “wear and tear”. Let’s stick with knees since that seems to be in my head now. If all of the muscles on the inside of your thighs are “tight” how do you think that is going to affect the inside of your knees? Think about doors and hinges, if I constantly swing on the top of a door with all of my bodyweight – i.e. not using it how it was designed to be used – the hinges are going to get pissed off. It won’t happen straight away, could take several months before you even notice the door starting to sit funny: that is wear and tear. If you apply that tightness to years of squatting and running then hey presto, you get your “unlucky, all-of-a-sudden knee injury”.

It really is important to research this stuff if you care about longevity. I started coaching CrossFit because I wanted to teach people how to lift correctly and help them get fit and enjoy themselves. What I quickly realised though was that very few people have the movement capabilities to actually do CrossFit. We basically had to change everything for everybody, because if they just jumped into full on CrossFit they would literally snap. People get concerned with not being able to get a good front rack position or an overhead squat but it goes much deeper than that.

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Teaching your body how to move is just as important as listening to your body. Just like a big argument in a relationship, generally things have been building for a while and it’s only when a specific problem is brought to the surface that things really get resolved. If you don’t communicate with your body how do you expect it to learn by itself?

If you put in the preemptive work now you may be able to pick up less injuries over the years, but when injury does happen, take a proactive approach: learn about the limb or area, use the extra sensitivity and make it stronger and smarter. Don’t be boring, do fun things and don’t accept that you’re a delicate little flower. We are all capable of amazing things if we just listen and try.