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Injuries Are Opportunities

By: Chris Teasdale

Being an Integrated Performance and Rehab Centre, we tend to get a few clients through who have injuries that are either acute or pre-existing, and they are ready and willing to get back into the gym. We see a lot of people suffer an injury and then stop training – ‘I got injured and put on weight because I couldn’t train anymore’ is a typical comment we hear from new clients.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, there is always something that you can do. It will take a different approach to what you have likely done before, and is not something you can pick out from a Fitness Magazine and think it will work for your current situation.

A typical response is get injured, stop training, replace training with junky comfort food, put on weight, and prolong injury.

An injury doesn’t have to be the end of your training goals; it can sometimes become a great opportunity to make some healthier choices and work on some weaknesses, which in the end will lead to better results in the long run. My Training Philosophy for injuries? Train what you can, don’t train what you can’t. So if it’s too painful to squat, then don’t squat! We can either find out what’s wrong with your current squat technique, or load the legs with another exercise and work through the dysfunction to obtain the results and change we need.

So why do people get injured?

A lot of people that we see have some sort of movement dysfunction, which they may not even be aware of. For example, in a squat we see the dysfunction with knees rolling in, which is most commonly attributed to poor hip mobility and weak/inactive glutes.

There can be a few reasons why this happens, one of the most common being that with many working desk jobs, the hips become tight and the glutes become weak from not being used. Another reason is that some people with only train the front half of the body (what you can see in the mirror!), and as a result the quads and hip flexors become very tight and the glutes can’t recruit properly.

This is the reason why we put every client through a movement screen and provide a corrective program to correct these issues. Injury usually results from movement, or because the tissues cannot tolerate the load that they need to, and eventually breaks down:

If we improve the movement, then we will reduce the biomechanical load through the structures that can’t handle the load and reduce injury risk. The following graphs show the length-tension relationship of the muscle, tendon, bone and ligament – so at what load and length they will break down and suffer injury:

From this we can see that by strength training, we will increase the load that the muscle can handle, at the same length, before the muscle will injure. This can also be for tendons and bones, but not as much as the muscles.

Put simply:

If you increase the load that a structure can handle, then you will reduce the load going through that structure.

Very simply:

Improve movements to load your body better, increase strength so you handle a greater load and you will be a lot less likely to re-injure.

But how does Nutrition play a part?

When it comes to injuries most people reach for the comfort food, especially if you stop training as well. And this inevitably leads to increase fat. This is especially seen with the big guys, the rugby players, who train hard and are ‘bulking’, but continue with this approach even after injury.

An injury is no excuse to put on extra fat; you just need to modify your diet to take into account for the reduced training volume and intensity. If you injured your knee, and then pile on extra weight, you’re only making the injury worse and harder for yourself to recover from. If you can take a sensible approach, and reduce your calories to either a deficit or maintenance level, with enough protein to maintain muscle mass, then there is no reason you should gain body fat – again this needs to be measured and calculated, and combined with training ‘what you can’ as discussed before and you should be on the road to a good recovery.

What to do next?

Located 5-minutes from New Farm Park, on the outskirts of the City, we are in an easy to reach and convenient location for anyone wanting to see an exercise and movement professional about an injury or dysfunction you might have. If you are suffering from an injury and still want to continue to train but you aren’t sure what you are able to do, get in touch with one of our team and we will book you in for a complimentary screening.

We have Exercise Scientists and Exercise Physiologists on staff to help you so please email us today at if you would like to arrange a complimentary consultation.

Added: 18-04-2016