If you have been training long enough you come to realize that injuries are just par for the course in the iron game. This does not warrant skipping workouts and it certainly isn’t a reason to sit on your ass waiting for an injury to heal. You have to be smart and know your limits with an injury and you have to know when rest is the best thing for it.
Two weeks ago I strained my hip flexor squatting. It was a pretty good strain and it has been bothering me since. I iced it and let it be. After a couple days of that I got some blood flow to the injured hip by foam rolling, lightly stretching it and performing exercises like sled drags and bodyweight squats. The following week I tried squatting and by the third warm up set I knew it was not ready so I called it a day on the squats and did not push it. I finished my workout with rack pulls, glute-ham raises and some sled dragging. These movements did not bother the hip at all. I continued to ice it and lightly stretch it. Reason I say lightly stretch it is I see so many people pull a muscle or strain something and then try and stretch it immediately thinking it will make it better when in fact it just creates more inflammation and causes more harm than good. Best thing to do is let it be for a couple days and ice it to reduce the inflammation in the injured area.
So here is a quick cheat sheet on how to remedy a muscle strain and stay in the game:
1. RICE – This acronym stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. This should be the first thing you do when you have an injury.
2. Foam Roll & Light Stretching – the foam rolling will help break up any adhesion and knots built up in the area that was injured and the light stretching will channel blood flow to the injured area which is very beneficial to the injury. Blood flow to the area will flush out any waste by-products and the healthy blood will start the healing process.
3. Light Resistance Training – this can be bodyweight exercises and mobility work to again generate blood flow to the injured area. Make sure to use very light loads and go for more of a blood pump in the muscle. This will help enhanced the recovery process.
So there is a quick 3 step process for when injuries occur. We must always take precaution when training and try and prevent injury by foam rolling, properly warming up and making sure our bodies are structurally ready for the lifts we are attempting. Even doing so we will sooner or later come across a time in our training career when we do get injured and we must know when to work through it and when to take a break. Most injuries you can work around and keep at bay if you do the necessary steps in warming up your body before your training session.