Train Through InjuryBy Adam Sinicki
Here is an article full of bad advice. This article should be the shortest in history; it should just say 'don't'. That's what the doctor will tell you when you sprain your knee or crick your neck: 'go easy for a couple of days'. You know and I know though that whatever the doctor says you're not likely to stay out of the gym for more than a week. So while this article may seem like bad advice at least it should help lessen the damage offering ways to train mostly the whole body even when your doctor tells you you can't.
Remember though if you damage yourself again you will only slow recovery and do more damage to your gains in the long run. Obviously in every case if you start to feel pain then stop what you are doing immediately (unless it's the burn - that's a good thing).
You can also think of an injury as a chance to focus on your other muscles. If both of your legs are in cast for example you can take full of advantage of walking on crutches or using the wheel chair and turn that into a 24-hour arm session.
The take home message then is to stay positive and make sure you do something, even if it's just imaging that you're training (explained below).
Some tools that can help in most injuries:
Dynamic Tension: Dynamic tension was made famous by Charles Atlas and basically involves tensing your muscle while you go through a movement such as a curl. It means you do not require weights and mixed with visualisation techniques can
Visualisation: 'Training and the mind' is something I intend to cover in a future article and there's allot more to it than meets the eye (like Transformers). The power of the mind is something that I definitely flaunt on this website and here's another good example. Many bodybuilders and scientists claim that by simply visualising a workout you can achieve some of the same results as if you actually had trained (some claim up to 90%). Obviously the findings are mixed and I wouldn't recommend cancelling your gym membership just yet; but still it must beat sitting on your arse crying (crying is for pussies!), and mixed with other forms of exercise it can cause your results to improve immensely. The big man himself (Arnie) claims that when doing bicep curls he would imagine his arm was 'swelling up as big as the room'. And you can't argue with his results.
Visualisation works even better for sports such as karate as you are using the same neural pathways as you would be if you were actually doing the movements. Practicing Kata and even playing imaginary tennis are almost as good as the real thing.
Ab belts/electrical stimulation: The pads you wear to electrically stimulate your muscles promise miraculous results and while they're probably a waste of money most of the time they are definitely a worthwhile investment for the injured and those who travel allot. I used mine constantly when my arm was in cast and I'm sure it's part of the reason my muscle survived largely intact despite inactivity.
Swimming: Swimming is a good form of training that has no impact meaning it won't damage bones or joints. What it will do is to strengthen the muscles surrounding them meaning that when you return to full form you won't have a withered limb (unless you already had a withered limb).
Clenching: It works for women's arse's and it can work for your battered biceps. Even inside a cast!
Diet: If you're going to be doing allot less training you will need to lower your callorie intake to ensure you don't stark piling on the pounds. Carbs can come down as you will be using far less energy (especially as you'll getting your wife/mother to get up everytime you want something to eat - you need to make the best of the situation!). If you've only damaged your arm for example though you will want to keep your protein intake high to try and prevent deflation.
How to train through specific injuries:
The Bodypart: The Wrist
Description: This is an area that I have a lot of experience in. Having completely smashed my wrist when I was 15
Muscles affected: Biceps, forearms, triceps, pecs, shoulders
Solutions: To hit the pecs you can still use pec-dec resistance machines where you use your forearms as opposed to your hands to push the pads. You can also use planche, and while this is designed mainly for the abs it will also help with your pecs and shoulders. For biceps one complicated method you can use is to attach the cable pullys to a band around your arm, or if your gym has them slip your hand through the . You can also use this to do pec flies and tricep extensions.
Obviously you can still train the other arm but this is not recommended as it will create an imbalance when you're recovered. Most exercises are bi-lateral or can be bi-lateral and so it's just as easy to train one bicep as it is two. It's not so easy to do bench presses however if one arm is massively different from the other.
Both the biceps and the pecs can be hit with the bodyman pro and dynamic tension exercises too. The main muscles that will suffer then are the deltoids but these will be hit slightly with planche and with the pec dec so if you keep your protein intake up they should suffer too much.
The Bodypart: The Ankle
Description: This is another injury I've experienced having also broken my ankle (I fell in a rabbit hole (yes I am stupid)).
Muscles affected: All of the legs, any standing exercises
Solutions: Obviously from now on all exercises that can be should be down sitting down. Other than that your upper body won't really be effected. Your legs will have the most difficulty and squats and deadlifts are obviously a no no. You can counter this though by doing leg extensions and hamstring curls on the resistance machines so long as you adjust the pad so that it touches your shins and your calves as opposed to your feet or ancles.
Meanwhile exercises like swimming or the bike is a way to gently bring the ancle back into the game without putting too much strain on it.
The Bodypart: Upper Back
Description: Unfortunately the upper back is involved in most exercises and so extreme caution will have to exercised for any workout.
Muscles affected: All of them, particularly lats and the rest of the upper body
Solutions: The solution with this injury is to try as best as possible to isolate your muscles to such an extent that you don't involve your back at all. Isolation curls on a stool are an example of isolating a muscle, but even here you will be likely to use your back at least a bit. To prevent this use a weight a few lower than you normally would and stop two to three reps before failiure. For added safety have a spotter. Legs and arms can be trained in this way so long as extreme caution is practiced.
The Bodypart: Lower Back
Description: Damage to the lower back will effect most lower body movements and several upper body movements.
Muscles affected: All of them, particularly the abs
Solutions: As with the upper back training limbs is fine so long as you are careful to isolate the muscles and crank it down a notch. You will not be able to do sit ups or train the abs however but this is exactly what electrical stimulators and ab belts were designed for. Do use them and if that's enough you can lie on the floor and have a friend hit you in the stomach while you tense and take the blows.
The Bodypart: Elbow
Description: Bending your arm is obviously crucial in a lot of exercises but there's still a few upper body things you can do.
Muscles affected: Biceps, pecs, lats, traps, triceps, deltoids
Solutions: There are few things you can do to train your upper body that don't involve bending your arms but they do exist. For example shrugs and lifting weights directly infront of you or to the side with your arms straight. You can also do the pec decs that use pads to train the pecs. For the biceps though you will have to make do with clenching or electrical stimulation. Depending on the nature of the injury you may though be able to use static contraction (where you push or pull against an imoveable force) and will probably be able to get away with swimming.
The Bodypart: Knee
Description: The elbow of the leg world.
Muscles affected: All of the legs.
Solutions: The calves you will still be able to train with calf raises but otherwise most standard leg movements are out and you will have to make do with clenching and stimulating for the hamstrings, quads and glutes. You will however most likely to be able to cycle or swim depending on the injury and this will hit all the leg muscles.