Special thanks to Tabata Times (www.tabatatimes.com) for posting another article I wrote:
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a physical therapist or anything along those lines. I write this from my own experiences.
I have had my fair share of injuries. Aside from the one that broke a bone, I have not let them stop me from still being active. With my most recent injuries of bursitis and tendinitis in my shoulder, I have taken on a very different mindset that I want to share. Injury is an opportunity for improvement. This is not me sugar coating how much injuries can suck. Let me explain.
We assume injuries typically sideline people. Depending on what the injury is (and what restrictions your doctor has put you on), it does not mean that you cannot remain active while recovering. It is very common when injured to immediately start rattling off all the things you can’t do. For me when I got my diagnosis, it was no more practicing to get my first butterfly pull up. No more muscle-up attempts. No more push-ups. No more push presses. I went through a few moments of being irritated (and that’s putting it mildly) that I had to break up with some of my favorites.
Like many injuries, mine are caused by over-use and bad mechanics. (A side note to anyone thinking CrossFit breaks you: CrossFit does not break you. Bad habits and over training break you). There was no point blaming it on bad luck as that had nothing to do with it. It was my own doing and not listening to my body. I had been having symptoms in my shoulder and arm for months and months that progressively got worse as I didn’t let up on things that aggravated it.
Now that I am in Physical Therapy, I am learning how our bodies find ways to do movements (albeit incorrectly or not safely) to make up for something not correctly working. I am sure my shoulder has not been working the way it should for years. I need to now retrain my shoulder to be healthy. I have to consciously focus on in engaging my lats and scapula so that I can properly perform the movements I had to temporarily kiss good-bye. Doing rehab for my shoulder is not easy physically but more poignantly it is mentally a tough pill to swallow that I can’t perform them at the capacity I used to. As I mentioned though, I was doing them incorrectly so getting injured was bound to happen. Now as I learn the right way to do things, I take solace in knowing it is an opportunity to improve. Sure, I will probably see major dips in what were my PR’s initially, but over time as I reintroduce movements into my workouts, I will actually do them better and more efficiently. I will reach higher potential with a good shoulder than I ever could have with a bad one. While it’s now been 6 months of limited shoulder work, I am optimistic I will fix this for good.
That’s not all. There is another perspective to consider when thinking about my new mantra of being injured is actually an opportunity to improve. As mentioned earlier, when injured, there is a tendency to think of all the things you can’t do. Sure, this is helpful in terms of steering clear from them. Don’t stop there though. If you are going to list off the no’s, come up with the things you can still do. Give yourself new goals and find something else to improve in or get stronger. There are tons of ways to be creative in CrossFit where you will still get a maximal workout without compromising an injury. Can’t do shoulder work? Fine then, focus on squats. Fix your form and make certain every squat you do is absolutely gorgeous. Work towards a new back squat or front squat PR. Give your brain (and your body) a break from having an injured pity party and focus on the positives.
When you get stronger at one thing in CrossFit, it inevitably leads to being stronger in others. There is no reason to assume or fall victim to all injuries by letting them slow you down.