I’ve hit the 6 week mark until LA – eek!
As with every prep, there have been ups and downs, setbacks and challenges. Most athletes, those in professional sport, and fitness enthusiasts will know that injuries are just part of this territory.
But how do you come back from injury? How do you use injury as a way to make yourself better, faster, stronger or bigger?
People too often get injured and immediately fall into a negative space. They assume the worst and yes, while being injured can be a serious blow to your goals – it can also be a fantastic opportunity to rebuild your body into something better. And yes, I am a ‘always look on the bright side of life’, type of person!
So how do you come back from injury better than before?
Focus on bio-mechanics and engagement. People often ask what the most important part of my training is and the answer may surprise you. While reps and sets, lifting heavy, good nutrition and quality supplements are definitely important, the key to maximum growth, injury prevention and creating a solid foundation is bio-mechanics and engagement.
Why I hear you ask? Well good bio-mechanics are important in making sure your body is moving as it is designed. A solid bio-mechanical foundation where you are fully aligned is critical to ensure you are not going to injure yourself again, particularly when you start to load heavy.
Post injury you can often find yourself compensating physiologically. Either through reduced range of movement or weakness through joints or muscle groups. This can affect your bio-mechanics. For instance if you injure your ankle, joint stiffness and reduced range of motion, particularly in dorsiflexion, can impact your squat. Your ankle won’t be able to move into a position that you would need to achieve the full range of motion in the movement. This can lead to other injuries through the hips or lower back, not to mention bad technique. So it is vital that post injury you really focus on your bio-mechanics and ensure your body, joints and muscles are working in alignment with each other.
Going hand in hand with bio-mechanics is engagement work.
You might be thinking, what on earth is engagement work? Well engagement refers to engaging your muscles and creating the neural pathways to ensure that your muscles activate correctly during your lift. To put it simply, if you are training back, you want to make sure that you are actually activating you back muscles, rather than compensating with, for example, your biceps.
Post injury engagement work is incredibly important. As mentioned above, often post injury your injured muscle groups or joints may be weak, or may have lost some of the neural connections. If you jump straight back into lifting as you were pre-injury, you will likely find that your body will compensate for the injured area by recruiting surrounding muscle groups.
Engagement work in essence teaches your body how to activate those muscles again. Why is this important? Well aside from the obvious points above, a body with a solid bio-mechanical foundation which has strong mind body neural connections, is primed for maximum growth. And it makes sense – your body is moving in alignment and you muscles are engaged to activate during your lifts.
This leaves only one important question remaining – how do you do it?
Well it’s pretty simply, you can engage and activate your muscles by performing the same exercises you would normal do, but with a much lighter weight, and with every movement focused on the contraction. You will find a lot of the exercises that are great for engagement are actually your rehab exercises that you would be given by your health professional. I incorporate engagement exercises into every session. Ten minutes at the start is all it takes and it will work absolute wonders for your development. Give it a try and send us your feedback.
Stay tuned for another great lesson next week, when Alicia returns with Part Five of her journey.