Training Around Injuries




Having trained for years and entered many competitions, I am often at risk of injury. The other week I got an injury wrestling where I sprained and tore ligaments in my right ankle. It happened as an accident. Accidents do happen and it’s likely you’ve injured yourself at some stage in training too. I’m going to talk about the things I do to keep myself motivated and continue to train around the injury.

When an injury occurs they are physical to the body, but often become mental as well. It becomes easy to get yourself down with the injury blues. It also gives us an easy excuse to become lazy and sit on the couch feeling sorry for ourselves. The negative thoughts are usually associated with losing what we worked so hard to achieve. For example, strength and conditioning, weight loss, muscle gain, flexibility, skill level or missing out on competition. You can also lose a great social connection when you are used to training with friends and team mates. Plus the loss of the release and endorphin kick you get from exercising.

These negative feelings are natural but are not necessary. If you change your outlook for a positive one, you’ll quickly realise you don’t have to sit on the couch feeling sorry for yourself. It’s all about being an optimist and seeing the “glass half full” by focusing on the things you can do.

After a couple of days of treating the swelling of my ankle, I decided to set myself a goal. My goal is to complete 10 consecutive muscle ups (without kipping). This exercise is a hybrid of a pull up and dip performed together. exercise is perfect for me as it does not involve the ankle muscles at all. As long as I stick the landing ;-) . Setting this goal serves a purpose in giving me a challenge to stay motivated and active whilst injured. This is outside of the often mundane rehab exercises.

One of my biggest injuries was when I dislocated and fractured my left elbow in 2008 competing in MMA. This injury gave me a new focus as I wasn’t able to punch, wrestle or perform many exercises. Although my main focus was the rehabilitation of my elbow, I needed something more. That focus became round kicks. I would practice 300 to 500 kicks a day at ¼ pace concentrating on form. When I was able to kick at 100% again, my power had doubled and form was near perfect with every kick. This is something I wouldn’t have achieved had it not been for the negative I turned into a positive.

Not all injuries are able to be trained around, especially serious ones and injuries in the early healing stage. That doesn’t mean you can’t do mental training. Mental training may involve watching and analysing competitions, instructional videos or reading a book about your specific sport. You can watch and read them for fun or watch with a purpose of trying to absorb techniques and strategies. There’s also a lot of autobiographies that make for great reading in maintaining focus and inspiration. Another way is to use the time you would normally train to relax and clear your mind with meditation and visualisation.

If you go to a physio for injury rehab, don’t forget to ask for other activities that you would be capable of doing without putting your injury at risk. Seek or speak to your trainer about different exercise options. A common exercise is swimming as it’s a low impact exercise that I’ve used as rehab and training around many types of injuries.

Touch wood you don’t suffer any injuries but in the off chance you do, always look for the positives. Don’t give yourself an excuse to give up on your goals and passion. Focus on keeping yourself healthy and on proper rehabilitation. Don’t forget about proper nutrition, massage and plenty of sleep which helps speed up the healing process. It’s about thinking outside the box and being creative with ways to train around your injury and stay active!!

“Enter every activity without giving mental recognition to the possibility of defeat. Concentrate on your strengths instead of your weaknesses, on your powers instead of your problems”. – Paul J. Meyer


Keep fighting fit