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Injured and Healing? Now what? Control the variables that you can control

Unfortunately, we don't possess Wolverine's healing ability so things get tricky when we get injured.

Control what you can control - it sounds cliché but it's the truth.

The injury scenario presents itself, let's say a low grade back tweak after performing 'Diane', 'Isabel', 'Linda' or 'Grace'.

We call it low grade because there's no numbness/weakness into either leg, no numbness in the undercarriage and no difficulty using the restroom. These are all red flag items - pain is "acceptable" as long it's by itself. If there are any type of nerve related symptoms, move yourself over into the "high grade tweak" category.

Regardless of tweak category, you're going to have to throttle back on activity level. If it's low grade it might range from a few days to a few weeks. High grade - a few weeks to several months.

Take this throttled down time to get yourself out of pain with the help of a trained professional while working towards identifying the contributing factor(s) of this tweak. Focus on previously neglected mobility and accessory work. In the event of a high grade tweak perhaps where surgery is involved, work on optimizing the healing process until you can return to loading the tissue(s) in question.

The issue that tends to arise following some sort of tissue insult is that people return too quickly. They get themselves out of pain without allowing the tissue to complete heal and restoring/improving tissue load capacity. This results in them getting stuck in this funky cycle of dysfunction where they rotate from:

Incomplete mechanics --> Incidences (small tissue insults) --> Injury (large tissue insults)

When it comes to heaing, you're at the mercy of physiological healing times. Different tissues heal and mature at different rates – sure, you can shave a little bit off of the total time but you’re still regulated by the “healing rules.”

For example,

Muscle Strains

Grade 1: 2-8 weeks

Grade 2: 2-4 months

Grade 3: 9-12 months

You cannot force a grade 2 hamstring strain to heal in 4 days. Can it feel better in 4 days? Absolutely. But is that muscle capable of handling the same pre-injury loads? Negative ghost rider and you'll most likely tweak it again or make it worse.

So in doing your best to honor these healing times, as annoying as it may be, approach controllable variables with more intention while you're healing.

Manage Sleep

Better quality of sleep over volume of hours asleep.

Establish a consistent sleep schedule where you go to bed and wake at the same time.

Limit light pollution into the room. No screens within 30 minutes of lights out.

Sleep in a cold environment. 62-68 degrees is optimal.

Limit alcohol consumption. 1 drink can affect your sleep rhythms for 96 hours.

Manage Nutrition

If you're unable to train you're not burning calories like you typically would.

So in an attempt to limit inflammation and unnecessary weight gain strip out junky carbohydrates.

Limit sugar.

Avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup for now and forever.

Increase your protein intake while managing the carb consumption.

Training Controls

If you're able to train with lighter percentages strip out the speed and complexity.

Add a tempo component to your lifts: lighter load, fewer reps, more intention with each rep.

Perform accessory/mobility exercises to permanently master or reclaim positions.

If a body part is out of commission but you still want to get some light/moderate training in you can do things to protect the healing area while still loading the remainder of the body.

Lower Body Pain? Sit down and perform upper body work.

Upper Body Pain? Hit those legs. Can't hold onto a barbell? Perform isolation movements; i.e. leg extensions, hamstring curls, glute bridges, calf raises.

If an arm or leg is out of commission (post-op), you can hop on an Assault Bike and lightly pedal. Keep the affected arm off the handle and work the remaining arm and both legs. If it's a leg in question, put that leg up on the respective peg and pedal with the other leg and both arms.

Throttling back your training while still performing some degree of activity will help you protect the healing tissue, optimize the healing process and retain most of your gains until you're 100% healed up and ready to return.

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