Being sidelined through injury can be a highly stressful time for an athlete, whether they are middle aged and recreational or professional. For the elite athlete their body is their job so when it isn’t working, then neither are they, and whilst the implications aren’t quite as serious for the person who simply undertakes regular exercise training and the odd competitive fixture, being on the injury list is certainly not welcome. Personally, I fall into the latter here when it comes to sporting prowess but in many ways being physically fit is important to my everyday job, much like many other professions where physical activity is integral to the day to day job role.

Coping psycholigically through periods of injury can be a real challenge. There have been many times in the past where I ‘thrown my toys out of the pram’ once in the privacy of my home – even at a younger age I was fortunate to have the social skills to not to throw a fit in public when the injury has occurred and people were trying to help me! All sorts of questions will go through the mind rnaging from ‘Will I be able to play again and when’, ‘What is the rehab timeframe’ and ‘How can I cope on a day to day basis with everyday tasks’. Of course the intensity of emotions experienced will vary with the severity of injury, and some of the worst injuries are career-ending for some professional athletes. However, when it comes to recoreational sports and fitness training one thing I often say to Ascot Personal Training clients is the need to demonstrate a high level of emotional intelligence, or as the All Blacks call it – keeping a ‘Blue Head’ rather than allowing a ‘Red Head’ to take over. Controlling the emotion associated with injury is something that certainly gets easier with experience and as I have gotten older, and gone through the process more, I’d like to think I’ve gotten better. Having injured my calf recently on a woodland run around Englemere Pond, Swinley Forest recently here’s how I’ve dealt with it:

1. How do I manage my injury? What is the immediate treatement that can help minimise the impact of the injury? In the case of the claf strain I stopped running immediately and gently walked home being guided by pain levels. Being bullish and trying to power through would have been foolish and increased the severity of thr strain. Rest, Ice, Elevation and Compression along with Ibuprofen can also take down the inflammation. If I can’t manage the injury myself then I need to seek professional support, which for me is a call or text to a long standing colleague Neil Minter Associates Chartered Physiotherapists, a physio who has worked with Olympic athletes and someone who knows my injuries through and through. Within the first 24-48 hours I should have a rehabilitation plan in place and a time scale to work to.

2. How do I manage my training? Injuries can influence your ability to train to varying degree’s. They can have a huge impact upon training volume, intensity and type if they are severe or if your training programme is highly specialised towards a specific event. For example, a calf strain for a runner can have a signifcant impact upon an athletes training programme. However, in my case, training activities are so varied that I had to modify only the running and ‘triple extension activities’ for the first few days. Anyone who has experienced a claf strain will know that they can recover quickly and each day normal function returns rapidly. I was able to perform a planned weights session the day after sustaining the injury, and on Day 3 I was able to perform some low intensity plyometrics and speed drills.

3. How do I minimise the chance of recurrence? Failing to strengthen a previously injured muscle or joint can leave it prepdisposed to further injury in the future. It is therefore wise to include some specific work within your braoder training programme to ensure that the affected area is properly strengthened. Techniques such as Eccentric Loading for tendon strength and Foam Rolling for breaking up scar tissue can have a positive impact and reuce the risk of reccurrence.

Anyone who trains on a frequent basis will already know that injuries come and injuries go – the frequency of which depends upon the intelligence that underpins your training programme and the intelligence of response to injury. If you would like some support with your training programme so that it works best for you or you are experiencing recurring injury issues as a result of your training then we may be able to help you get back on track – contact us here for further information.

This article was written by personal fitness trainer Nathan Kelly – find on Google+