Your Training and Your Health
If there is one thing I’ve learned in my time training (however short that may be by comparison), it’s that sometimes we can do some very stupid things for various reasons. Usually that reason is pride, but sometimes it’s a misunderstanding of form or a breakdown thereof and pushing through that breakdown due to pride. This chain of events is often followed by realization of an injury. Recent injuries on my list come in the form of muscle strain in my quad from overtraining and plantar fasciitis also from overtraining. Both of these injuries come from pride and not being willing to stop when I should have, and have taught me some valuable lessons.
I read the adage that coaches should be much like doctors in making an effort to “do no harm” with our athletes. Your first priority, even above progressing through their lifts, should be maintaining the health of your athletes. It’s been my experience that the more I let my pride get the better of me, the less competing and training I can due to the injuries incurred. Programming and coaching should be done in a way which minimizes injury risk while still making strength and performance gains in your athletes. This is pretty common sense, but I’ve seen it happen where high school gyms here have the most arbitrary training sessions posted on the wall with little to no thought behind the programming or the needs of the individual athlete. Some of it makes sense, while some of it also makes me wonder just how kids are making any progress. It’s part of my argument against CrossFit, with its underqualified coaches and high volume programming, you’re just begging for an overuse injury or an injury coming from poor, uncorrected (or improperly corrected) form. As coaches, we have a responsibility to turn out a functioning, strong product (our athletes), and if they’re all ending up injured at our hands then we’re not doing too great of a job. Some setbacks are avoidable, some uncontrollable, and we have to do our best to minimize them in order to get our jobs done.
I hope you didn’t just skip over the coaches section, because the information’s just as important for you. As I’ve been doing my own programming, I’ve had to wear both hats and it’s as much about the athlete’s mindset as the programming. Stopping at the sensation of pain is near critical. Completing an hour run when your feet are in pain at the 30 minute mark is just stupid and pride is not a good reason to induce injury. Training despite actual pain in a muscle or joint is the same; you’re just asking for a layoff and hindering your own progress. A great yoga instructor once told me to “honor my body” by listening to the tension, the aches and the pains, and to perform my practice based on those messages. I’ve slowly been incorporating those messages into my strength work, and after this most recent setback I’ll be taking it even more seriously. Working yourself into a pile of useless flesh will get you nowhere. Listen to your body and adjust your training accordingly for the sake of your health. The less time you spend sidelined, the more time you can spend succeeding on the pitch.
I feel that all of this is fairly common sense, but I clearly haven’t been listening and I know that there are plenty of others out there who are or who have been in my shoes. We don’t have to push through the pain, and the old saying “no pain, no gain” is full of shit. Wanting to be the most “hardcore” may get you some recognition from other guys in the gym, but it stands a good chance of also getting you a shortened career or at least a nice little required rest. Sacrificing your health is a mistake when there is life beyond sport for years, and if you listen to your body you just may get to enjoy that time with minimal pain. Coach smart and train smart, you’ll go far.