Our approach to fitness has always been a long term one – to continue developing and maintaining fitness through life. There’s no point to beating yourself up in the gym daily because you can, only to be left unable to sit and stand without support as you age. The point of training is in fact to ensure that you can do much more than just sit and stand without support as you age. Part of leading such a physically active life, however, is dealing with bumps and detours in the form of niggles and injuries. It’s one of the (relatively low) risks you take for the big benefit of increased fitness through life.
Now, those niggles and injuries shouldn’t be overuse type injuries. If that’s happening, check your programming, mechanics and coaching. Niggles and injuries are expected to come from past injuries or trauma, and from mishaps that happen when you’re testing the limits of your fitness. It’s you hitting the dirt on a mountain bike trail, twisting an ankle playing footy, or landing awkwardly when attempting a handstand. For others, there are mechanical limitations such as being born without one pectoral muscle (I know, rare!), pins where you had a bad fracture, arthritis, or even longstanding injuries that you need to live with.
For example, a few years back I developed a knee niggle that eventually required a visit to the orthopaedic surgeon and the MRI machine. The MRI revealed an abnormality that simply had an insidious onset – there was no trauma or injury to the knee ever, it just started hurting. Surgery was an option, but it wasn’t a guaranteed success. So we chose against it, rehabilitated the lower limb, and worked on finding out what aggravates the pain most. I learnt that a running volume of more than 2-3km in any format of workout causes the pain, and that’s the only thing that does. So I’ve had to accept that I’m unable to do workouts or runs that accumulate more than 2-3km. I’ve substituted that with longer distance rowing, more skipping, the ski-erg, and now the wonderful airdyne. It keeps me pain free and able to lead a physically active life.
Whether it’s a lifelong limitation like mine, or shorter term limitations, you can’t let your ego get in the way. You have to accept that it’s a limitation, but more importantly, you have to remember the big picture – lifelong health and fitness. It’s either a short term detour (NOT a setback, a detour), or long term modifications to your training and types of activity. When you come round to that acceptance and keep the big picture in mind you don’t do more damage by ignoring the limitation. That results in less forced time off and therefore increased fitness through life, despite the limitation!
It can be challenging and confusing figuring out what to do when you have such limitations. Fortunately, at the CFJ facilities we have an amazing physiotherapist, a team of coaches who have the experience of modifying hundreds of workouts for all sorts of limitations, and me with an MSc in Exercise Rehab! Whether it’s physio treatment, an individually tailored prehab/rehab program, or simply daily workout modifications, you just need to ask. Chat to any of the coaching team or an ambassador.