Injured again.

I can’t even find the words to describe how frustrated I am.

Just when I felt like I was getting my groove, another injury.

It’s not so much the pain as it is the frustration of not being able to give 100% when I’m training. I don’t want to do modified CrossFit workouts or skip sparring in jiu-jitsu. I want to train.

Most people would think that being involved in a contact sport such as jiu-jitsu would surely involve some injuries. I’d have to disagree. For the most part, I try to train smart. This injury (as all my previous ones) was just a fluke. I wasn’t even sparring – it was just my limb being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe that’s part of what makes it so frustrating – I wasn’t even being careless. It just happened.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t cry … I did. I threw myself a little pity party and tried to shake it off. I was determined to push through — but I knew I needed to be sensible. The last thing I wanted was to delay getting back to my workouts.

Being disciplined is tough anyway. Being disciplined while recovering from injury is even tougher. There have been many times when, even though I knew better, I rushed back onto the mats or the weight room and trained/lifted despite my pain. I thought I was being tough. In reality, I was being stupid.

It’s a tricky balance to find — walking the line between pushing yourself to your maximum potential and holding back for fear of injury. How do you know you’ve gone far enough? How do you know how much you can really do unless you try, right? This is where you really need to be sensible. You know when you’re crossing the line. You know when it’s better to sit out than forge ahead. All you have to do is listen.

It took me some time to figure out how to listen to and accept that inner voice that was telling me to slow down. I soon learned, though, that any time you are being sensible and truly listening to your body, it ends up working for you, not against. I train as rigorously and frequently as possible, and even though I miss it when I don’t train, I am now ready to rest when I need to rest. Similarly, I am ready to step back when I need to recover.

Through my last two injuries – both involving my wrist/forearm – I have been much, much more sensible. I have taken time off from training. When I was able to train, I made do with lighter weights and very, very light cooperative sparring (and often no sparring at all). I have been doing my physiotherapy exercises and wearing my protective brace whenever needed. It has still been frustrating and a true test of my patience, but I know it has been worth it.

Here are a few things I learned while dealing with injuries that may be helpful to others:

  • Keep it real. Be honest with yourself about the extent of your injury. Rest. If the pain persists, get it checked out. Don’t ignore persistent symptoms – your body knows what’s going on, even if you don’t want to admit it to yourself.
  • Think beyond today. I would hope that anyone who is involved in physical fitness is training for life and not a short time period. Consequently, you have to keep in mind that in the grand scheme of things, missing a few weeks of training does not mean you will never train again.
  • Be patient. Recovery takes time — so you need to wait. Rushing back will do more harm than good, so accept that you will have to be patient.
  • Do what you can. Do your research. Take advice from others. Do exercises that won’t aggravate your injury. Maybe you’ll discover an exercise you didn’t know you enjoyed or a skill you didn’t know you were good at. Don’t focus on what you can’t do — instead use injury time as an opportunity to explore other possibilities.
  • If it hurts, stop. When restarting your training after an injury, pay close attention to your movements. If what you’re doing is causing pain (and this goes for any time, not just when you’re injured), then stop doing it. The pain could simply be because your technique is off, but it could also be because your body is not ready to handle that movement at this very moment. Stop. Evaluate. Come up with a plan. Proceed.
  • Let your coach know. Don’t keep your injury a secret. Let your coach know so that s/he can give you advice and provide suggestions for alternative exercises. Letting your coach & even your training partners know about your injury also takes a bit of pressure off yourself. People will know that you’re not at 100% so you can take it easy and do the best you can.
  • Focus on overall healthy habits. Eat healthily, stay hydrated, and stock up on rest. Just because you may be physically injured, doesn’t mean all aspects of your health should be let go. Instead, focus on the things you can control and that will help keep you healthy.
  • With jiu-jitsu: Show up to class anyway. Even if you can’t step on the mats, come and watch and take notes. There’s nothing to stop you from learning. When you’re back on the mats and ready to drill or spar, let your training partners know. Choose a training partner who will help you through your injury and not forget and further aggravate it (even if it’s by accident). Don’t be afraid to ask your partners to go light while you recover – self-defense starts with protecting yourself in all aspects.

Injuries happen. Be sensible with your recovery process. Listen to your body and ease yourself back in gradually. Remember, the better and faster you heal, the sooner you’ll be back to training at full capacity. Don’t rush the process.

Wrist injury1

I injured my wrist and trained for over a month on it — ignoring the pain. It wasn’t until I woke up one morning to find my hand swollen like this – and shaking uncontrollably that I finally went to see the doctor. I was definitely NOT sensible — and as a result I suffered for a very long time! Lesson learned!