23

Oct

What I learnt from taking time off from training due to injury.

There are always two sides to an injury…

Until June this year, life was going well and work was busy. I was on a roll with my training (Strength and Conditioning 3x/week, Yoga 3 – 4 x/week, Martial Arts training 5 – 6 x/week) and I was looking forward to making my debut in a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu competition.

In a single moment everything changed due to fracturing my right hand. I wish I had a cool story to explain the injury; in fact I’ve kept the story private from most people. I could, however, be encouraged to discuss this further in another blog post…

As a personal trainer, training is pretty much my life. I train myself, my clients and I am constantly participating in courses to learn new methods to implement into my own and my clients training. I don’t do the job because of money; I do the job because I am passionate about health and exercise and the benefits that it can bring to someones life. I enjoy being healthy, feeling good and moving my body to its full potential. Everything that I implement into my own training, I then pass on to my clients and enjoy seeing them make the same progress and results. I actually get more pleasure from seeing my client’s results than my own!

My world fell apart when the doctor told me that I was unable to use my right, and dominate, hand for 6 weeks. Worse, I was told to not put body weight on it for 10 weeks and absolutely no contact sports for 12 weeks. The x-ray showed that my hand was broken, but it felt like my soul was broken too.

Previous to the injury, I had been training so hard. I was getting results with my lifts in the gym and I was nearly ready to compete in my first BJJ (Brazilian Jui Jitsu) competition. I’ve had time out from training before, due to other injuries and things like overseas holidays and I know the drill. When you start up training again, it can make you feel a little depressed. Being unable to complete as many reps, or lift as much weight as you once could, feels like a huge step backwards. Not being able to push your body to its full potential makes training feel wasteful or at least all of the work you had put in previously a waste. So when training is your life and it’s something that you’re passionate about, not being able to reach a goal fast enough can be extremely demotivating.

Even though I couldn’t train how I used to, mainly focussing on my upper body, I knew that there were other things that I could do. I aimed to focus on training my legs and my core. I believed that I was going to be able to train the same just without the use of my right hand. Although I tried to remain positive, I found myself in a depressing rut.

Simple everyday tasks had become a huge challenge – like showering, making my bed, putting on clothes, food prep, cleaning the house and many more. At first, I was frustrated and angry but I knew that a negative attitude would not get me anywhere. I knew that if I wanted to be happy and get through the next 12 weeks without going insane, I was going to have to see the bright side of the injury. So I began to think – we have two hands, why do we limit ourselves to one? I viewed my injury as a blessing in disguise. Rather than seeking help with my small everyday tasks, I persisted to practice with my left hand and after a couple of days I began to see improvements. It wasn’t long before I was writing with my left hand, and even though it looked like a child’s writing, I was proud to say that I had done it!

While my left hand was becoming stronger, my right hand was learning how to move my fingers again. I was attending my hand therapy appointments and practicing what the therapist suggested religiously. As a qualified electrician and personal trainer, I knew that regaining full control and mobility over my right hand was critical. I made my recovery non-negotiable and was extremely motivated to regain strength in my right hand.

Every hour I would do my finger movements and after each appointment with my specialist I would be introduced to new rehabilitative exercises. These were the most simple exercises and essential to my recovery. I cannot stress enough as to how important it is to the recovery process! Whatever the doctor said, I did! If he told me to rest and not do anything, I did! If he said move your fingers this way 10 times every hour, I made sure that I did! I set an alarm and an appointment with myself to ensure success.

Even though I was making progress, I was still not training how I used to. I am a big believer that movement is medicine and I was having withdrawals due to not getting the same dose as I was prior to my injury! Like most people when they miss training, or be absent from something that they are passionate about, it tends to drive them a little crazy. It can make them feel anxious or depressed. In times like this, we need to rely on someone to help us get back onto our feet. We need someone to keep us accountable and motivated. At the end of the day, life goes on and the universe continues to move, we need to choose to get up and keep moving otherwise we can get left behind and not feel any better than before.

I have personally had a PT for about a year and have achieved great results through training with him but dealing with an injury saw my results go downhill fast. I wanted to try and get some strength back before him and I started training again so I took it upon myself by doing some basic bodyweight exercises. Once again, I found myself having bad days, motivation was low and training sessions were missed.

I knew that starting back with my trainer was going to be tough – especially the first couple of sessions due to DOMS. I knew that by booking in a PT session, I would keep the appointment and get results faster, rather than taking it upon myself which had been previously unsuccessful.

The first few sessions were hard and I was extremely sore afterwards! I continued to push through, even when I didn’t want to, and it wasn’t long before I started to notice positive strength results in my legs. My PT sessions meant that I wasn’t skipping anything and it kept me motivated to train. After a few sessions I began to train my upper body, I also noticed that there wasn’t a massive drop in my performance, that I was actually stronger than I initially thought. I was focussed and persisted with my training and it wasn’t too long before I was nearly back to the same strength levels prior to my injury.

Everything was slowly starting to get back to normal with my training and recovery process, I could now see the light and the end of what was a very dark tunnel.

I am now back into my pre-injury intense training routine and registered to compete in my first BJJ competition on the 27th of October – Pan Pacific IBJJF Jiu-Jitsu Championship, the Biggest comp in Australia and what I’ve been told is a great one to make your debut in!

Everything that my injury has taught me, I have applied into every aspect of my life, I still enjoy using my left hand for basic tasks!

There is always two sides to everything in life and if you want to get through the tough times, you need to try and find the bright side. It is always there, even though you may not see it at first! Sometimes though, you need help to see it – that’s when you can rely on a trainer, friends and family. When you’re struggling with an issue, physically or mentally, please don’t hesitate to seek help because there is always someone out there to help you through the ups and downs of life.

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