Understanding Injury Categories as a Path to Improvement
Brian Beatty, PT, CFP
The repetitive nature of endurance sports creates an environment for most of us where sooner or later something hurts. Understanding the factors that led to the problem can provide useful insight into: resolving the discomfort; healing the tissue; preventing recurrence; and learning so that performance improves.
Most injuries in Endurance Sports fall into four categories:
Mechanics (or "Form")
These injuries occur when you put the body in less than optimal position to perform the task at hand. Excessive stresses are generated somewhere in the system and something begins to break down.
One has to have adequate preparation for the task. If you ask your system to do something beyond the limit that it can sustain, it will break down. You may have great mechanics or form up to a limit, but beyond that limit the form falls apart and the stresses occur. These issues are different from purely mechanical issues. They are issues about limits. The mechanics may be fine at some point, but the recognition of when factors change so the mechanics are no longer fine is not clear. Or, the recognition is there, but the choice is made to ignore the warning signs. Training errors can be simply inadequate or inappropriate preparation for the task, or inability to allow adequate recovery during training for system adaptation or training effect to be achieved.
No two people are the same. All bodies are different and have different strengths and weaknesses. The body we were given, the history of life, wear, tear and unavoidable changes all influence what a body can sustain without breaking down. Know yourself. Know what you can change, but also accept and understand how to respect and work with that which you cannot control. If you ask your body to do something that it simply does not have the capacity to do, regardless of mechanics or training, you will create problems.
Sometimes, things just happen. Accidents occur. When these happen, we focus our efforts simply creating an environment for the injured structures to repair themselves. Once that has occurred, move forward with renewed confidence.
These categories are not mutually exclusive, but a priority ranking of the categories for any given injury provides a good tool to understand how to recover from an injury and prevent a recurrence.
When you encounter an injury, a building stress, a sense that something is not right, or any negative message from you body, listen to it. Think about the above categories and rank their influence on whatever situation you are encountering. Direct your resources to change what you can, where you can and know how to be appropriate with that which is not in your power to change.
Categories: Brian Beatty's Blog, Health & Wellness