It’s no question, getting injured sucks! Getting injured weeks before a competition, is another level of sucking (wait, that didn’t come out right) but anyway, you now know (and by YOU I mean ME) the extent of your injury, you’ve made that different phone call to the airline company to cancel the flight you have reserved months before, you review all the programs, routine, diets and numbers in the past months leading to the competition that you are now unable to compete in, and you’ve pressed delete. Months of hard work, sacrifice, blood, sweat and tears, if you will, all down in the drain. Your fault or not, for whatever reason, your back to zero. If you’re like me, you’ve probably changed your gym schedule because you can’t live with the shame of a futile endeavor.
But then again you realize, you ARE back to zero, it is an opportunity for regeneration & rejuvenation, a time for rebirth. Not to get too poetic here, but think about it, it’s the perfect time to forget all those concepts you thought was right, all those mannerism you can’t avoid, all those exercises that you know is pointless but you keep on doing just because you look good in the mirror doing it.
One effect of injury that is perhaps the hardest to handle is the fear of re-injuring yourself, taking away that extra push you need to have a successful workout, that extra rep to fully achieve your gains. Join me in this personal journey towards recovery and recuperation on the road back to optimum performance. We will fall, we will stumble, but we will not fail, we will not give up, at the end of the road we will be personally and professionally victorious!
A frustrating first week is my first experience back to active rehabilitation. I started my week with bilateral leg exercises, these exercises are those that we do using both limbs or both sides of the body simultaneously, such as the squat, double leg extension, double leg curl, etc. I started with a weight I know I can handle, 100 lbs (33% of my MAX), although its tempting, I try to avoid adding anymore weight, keeping in the back of my mind the risk of re-injury.
What’s important for now is to keep muscle mass, so it can be recruited in the future for heavier workouts. For those who are quite observant, keeping muscle mass talks about muscle hypertrophy, creating micro tears in the muscles so it can be replaced by bigger and relatively stronger muscles. These also means I used 12 reps in each exercise for 3 sets which is the most ideal set for leg muscles. I kept my squat at two inches above parallel, to avoid over extending my bicep femoris which is the reason for the injury in the first place.
The workout went well and I believe I achieved my purpose for the day. The following day is chest and bicep day, I followed a 12×3 mid-difficult workout since these exercise are the ones least affected by the injury, though I need to keep a flat back on my bench press. Mid-difficult means doing 12 reps at 50% of your max. The day’s purpose is to maintain your bench strength, again, to prepare you for your future meso (strength focused) cycle. I took the third day off and rested.
The fourth day is the day you realize the extent of your injuries, deadlift and unilateral leg day. You see, for someone who considers deadlift as his forte, gasping for breath after a failed set of Romanian and sumo deadlift with a meager 100 pounds is frustrating. The day ended right there and then, I’m still weak from the injury, and bursts of sharp pain during the range of motion doesn’t help. I went home heads down, all the time thinking how far I went from maxing out at 400 lbs and failing to perform 12 reps of a hundred. Though my shoulder and tricep Friday was promising, it still took the whole weekend to gain courage and continue my program.
So, here are a rundown of the things you should keep note during rehabilitation.
1.Never forget to warm up, rotate your joints, warm up again and rotate again.
2.Ditch stretching. Healing muscle are not yet pliable.
3.Split your workout for the injured muscle group into two, these way you still target all areas without the risk of re-injuring yourself.
4.Keep your exercises light, easy and basic.
5.If you complete the 3 sets of 12 reps with ease, add 10 to 20 lbs the week, if not, stick to your current weight, if it’s difficult, deduct 10-20 lbs, don’t be shy, its part of the process.
6.Keep your other muscle groups strong by maintaining the same 3×12 rep range but keep increasing the weight every two to four weeks.
7.Always maintain proper form when doing any exercises.
8.Sharp pains may attack anytime even if your working a totally different muscle group, so keep a gym buddy or spotter around.
In my case, injuring the upper side of my bicep femoris, I have weakend my core so my workout looks like this;
Monday – Warm-up& Rotation, Squat, Double Leg Curl, Double Leg Extension, Romanian deadlift and Plank. When I’m more flexible I intend to add a High and Wide Leg Press.
Tuesday – Warm-up& Rotation, Bench Press, Inclined DB press, Chin ups, DB curl and Plank. Replace Chin Ups and DB curls with other variations every two weeks.
Wednesday – rest, eat lots of healthy fat.
Thursday – Warm-up & Rotation, Front Step Up, Side Step Up, Sumo deadlift, Barbell row, Shrug and Plank. When I’m more flexible I intend to replace shrug with a Barbell Clean.
Friday – Warm-up& Rotation, Front Press, Arnold Press, Side Lat Raise, Close Grip Bench Press, Tricep Cable Push down and Plank. Replace Close Grip BP and Cable Push down with other variations every two weeks.
I’ll end this article with a note that all my opinions are based on my experiences and is always open for correction and discussions. Train hard, train smart, train safely.