training around injuries

Thoughts on Injuries: Get Stronger

Tadashi wrote a great post last week. If you haven't read it... you should do so. I wanted to expand a bit on this particular point of his post:

Another aspect that all of these athletes have in common is that they were strong before the injury occurred. If you are a healthy competitive athlete, you have NOTHING to lose by getting stronger. The stronger you can make your active restraints (muscles) the more protection you build around your passive structures (ligaments/tendons/bones). Just ask DeJuan Blair, center for the San Antonio Spurs, who has no choice but to depend on his quadriceps and hamstrings to stabilize his knee. Why? Because he actually has no ACLs. Both of his ACLs were operated on when he was in high school, but the surgery was not successful in repairing the ligaments and the remaining scar tissue was re-absorbed. If his lower body musculature didn’t pick up the slack for this missing ligament, I’d take a wild guess and say he wouldn’t be playing professional basketball. Or any basketball.


Building the strength in all the right places will also build confidence coming back from an injury. As Adrian Peterson rushes down the field breaking tackles and making cuts he’s probably not thinking, “I sure hope this new ACL stays in one piece on this play.” Subconsciously I know he’s thinking “I’m sure glad I have enough control in my glutes to keep my knee tracking properly and my hamstrings are strong enough to prevent anterior translation of my tibia!” Sounds like something he would say

Smart man huh? I agree 100% that being stronger (before and after an injury) decreases the chance of injury (assuming non-contact), decreases the recovery time and, in some cases, allows an athlete to return to play despite having an "unrepaired" injury. Couple of examples:

Conrad Mann, resident Superhero at SAPT, recently had not one, but two knee replacements in the past year. Guess what? He was already in pretty good shape (100 pound chin up... check out the T-Day lift from 2011) and was quite strong heading into his first surgery. (he came in and trained the day before, both times!) Guess what? He's had an extremely rapid recovery (enough to impress his doctor) and actually started trap bar deadlifting about2 months ago. Need I mention that he's trap bar deadlifting 200 lbs already? His glutes, hamstrings and core were very well developed before surgery which all have helped supported his new knees during the period of learning to move with titanium instead of bones in his legs.

Brett Contreas and Dean Somerset (both of whom were my encouragement after my own back injury to continue to train wisely) are two strength coaches who have had some pretty serious back injuries. Both found exercises that they could do and still create a training effect (aka: getting stronger) as well as incorporated solid rehab techniques mobility and soft tissue work. They also are two brilliant fellows and learned everything they could about what muscles needed to be trained in order to protect their backs when they were able to train more aggressively again, despite the injuries remaining "un-fixed." Thanks to both of them, I learned how to rehab my own back, strengthen my active restraints around my spine and train like a beast again.

Also, I tore both my labrums in my hips (passive restraints) 3 years ago because if stupid training techniques and FAI. What can be cause FAI? Weak glutes, weak anterior core (thus an exaggerated anterior pelvic tilt) and joint laxity. I had all three. Exercises such as squatting when these are present are perfect for cultivating tears in labrums. Well, after 2 years of training, my glutes are stronger, my core is stronger (thank you swings!) and I've worked on joint stability in both my hips and lower back. Guess what? Unless I perform a movement that directly causes my hip to internally rotate, like getting in and out of a car, I pretty much forget that I have torn labrums and I trust that surrounding muscles are strong enough to protect my hips.

Life is rough and injuries happen. But, like Tadashi said, injuries are not the end of the world for an athlete, or even the average Joe (and they're not an excuse to stop working out!!). Get stronger today to prevent injuries tomorrow. And, should something come along that busts you up a bit, figure out how to work around it. You can always strengthen something. If you train wisely, do your rehab and keep striving to get stronger, injuries can be easily overcome.

Miscellaneous Musings 1/27/12

1. One of the best parts of working at SAPT is the privilege of training a BROAD spectrum of people each and every day. On any given day I may get to work with pro baseball and soccer players, high school athletes (our predominant group of clientele), Jewish school teachers, hobbits from the Shire, 12-year-olds learning to play soccer for the first time, you name it. I point this out because oftentimes parents are surprised when they walk in for the first time and see adults training right alongside high schoolers. "Oh, you work with adults, too??"

Yes, we do. Age is just a number, really! For example, here is Big Joe (*in his 40's, mind you), smashing 405lbs for a trap bar deadlift PR. We recently helped Joe prepare for the East Coast "Tough Mudder", a brutal 11-mile race brimming with unforgiving obstacles. He placed a whopping top 5% out of a few thousand people.

Needless to say, we're looking forward to seeing how he does in 2012!

On a related note, we also work with multiple people that have injuries and/or are coming out of surgery.

Case in point: below is Conrad, just coming out of knee replacement surgery. He was practically banging on our doors as soon as he could post-operation, and we're thrilled to be helping him back on his feet in the iron realm. Already he's back on the trap bar, ingraining proper technique and slowly but surely regaining strength back in his leg.

He's been getting AFTER IT, and just upped his number of training sessions to 3x/week with us. His doctor/physical therapists told him he had one of the fastest recoveries they'd ever seen for his age, which goes to show how far some dedication will go. Again: age is just a number!

This being said, don't let the fact that you're injured, or past your "golden years," keep you from getting after it!

2. Sam Giguiere (NFL wide receiver) training. This video has been out for a little while now, but for those who haven't seen it, it's awesome. I love the way elite athletes combine maximal power with simultaneous relaxation of movement.


3. This weekend I head out to celebrate my sister's wedding. Hence this quick n' random post so that I can take care of everything before the coaching hours begin. I'll then immediately head out from SAPT to the rehearsal, rehearsal dinner, and follow up Saturday's ceremony by partying it up like it's 2012. is 2012. Ohh how I crack myself up sometimes.

(Cue personal shout-out to sister:) Jenn, I'm crazy excited for you!!! You can bet I'll be busting out some bubble gum dances and robots for you on the dance floor.

And your husband-to-be is totally going to have to arm wrestle me to prove his honor before he says "I do." Hah! I kid, I kid.

A HUGE congratulations to you both!

4. This is awesome. See the video below for Ray Lewis's speech to the Ravens after they lost to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

I personally feel many take sports wayy more seriously than they should, and Ray leads by example here, despite the fact that he was on the losing side (especially immediately post-game, when emotions would be the highest). I'm not a Ravens fan, but this is great.

That's all for now. Have a great weekend everyone.



*Joe, please don't hurt me for giving your age. I was using it as a compliment. Really!