Working Out With an Injury

Working Out With an Injury


Whether a steely-eyed, barrel-chested freedom fighter, regardless of branch of service, or aspiring bodybuilder (though I could just as easily make the same claim for powerlifters, hockey players or endurance athletes, respectively), having to at some point work through an injury is probably more inevitability than possibility. It’s not “if” we get back to the grind, but “how”, because let’s face it; most of us gym rats will happily weather hurricanes, hail or high water to hit the gym. That being said, let’s talk strategy because working through an injury means changing your mindset, changing your approach and ultimately, changing your game plan.

Changing your mindset

  • You’re not superhuman. Expecting brute strength alone to carry you through an injury or to miraculously heal overnight like Wolverine is a surefire way to spiral…and possibly not recover. Accept the situation for what it is; a kick in the face, but also an opportunity to get outside your comfort zone and grow, in every sense of the word. Stay positive and stay hungry; “you have to want to conquer.”

Changing your approach

  • Work smarter, not harder. Without getting into the science of an injury’s second and third order effects on the body, suffice it to say that recovering from an injury will dynamically change the manner in which your body recovers from training. Make adjustments to your programming with this in mind to feed the recovery process, but avoid taxing the body beyond what it’s capable of recovering from, given your current combination of stimulus and stressor.
  • Back to the basics.

Almost five years ago to the day, as I write this, I suffered a Grade 3 ankle sprain playing ultimate football, of all things, for unit-organized PT. Somewhere in the neighborhood of “depression”, with respect to the five stages of injured athlete’s grief, I remember reading about the broken left foot that all but kept the ‘85-‘86 Chicago Bulls from the playoffs, and stumbling across four words that changed everything for me; back to the basics.

  • Aerobic conditioning, cardiovascular efficiency, oxygen absorption and transport are all integral to the recovery process. Now is not the time to skip cardio…
  • Prep-work, particularly dynamic prep-work, is time well spent.
  • I cannot stress enough the importance of proper form!
  • Substitute high intensity and weight load for high volume and work load.
  • Incorporate rest as necessary, both in the gym and at home.

Changing your game plan

  • Rehab your existing injury.

The old saying, a pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure? Yeah, well, that ship’s sailed, so let’s focus instead on getting back in the game. This may be as simple as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation), but may also require the attention of a doctor, specialist or physical therapist. Listen to your body, take time off when necessary, be patient getting back to the grind, and focus on your long-term goals. Trust the process, stay the course…this too shall pass.

This post was written by Marcel Blood with input from IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Joshua Petrecky. He's active duty military, is currently competing at the professional level and always offers great advice.

Follow him on IG: @alwaysjjp_ifbbpro

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