In this article, Team Beast athlete Steve Gentili dives in on how to overcome injuries to reach your goals.
Injuries can be an embarrassing part of strength sports and extreme bodybuilding. We have to admit to ourselves that we are, in fact, actually human. Unfortunately, when it comes to pushing yourself to the absolute limit, itʼs not if you get hurt, itʼs when.
For most athletes, the injuries are manageable: strained muscle, aches and pains from not recovering. Most are nothing debilitating, and most serious athletes get ahead of the issues before it gets serious with massage, physical therapy, ice, heat treatments and a plethora of other modalities if they think it can help.
Whether the injury is serious or not, there are some things you can do to minimize losing progress at the gym, maximize the recovery process and potentially shorten the time off. You always want to work with medical professionals and listen to their advice as well. I always seek out the best in the field in my area, but there are things you can do on your own.
Hereʼs 5 tips to focus on while going through an injury.
1. DIET AND SUPPLEMENTS
This should be an athlete's main concern, but especially if time is going to be spent alway from the gym and we canʼt be as flexible with food choices. We want nutrient dense foods, and, usually if activities are limited, to reduce overall caloric intake.
Yes, you will lose some weight, but for most injuries, losing a few pounds can help with recovery. You're not actually losing muscle mass, just volume size. Itʼs a far better alternative than slapping on a bunch of bodyfat. With all the protein needed to recover from injuries, I always use BCAA 2:1:1 or Aminolytes throughout the day in the acute stages of the injury along with Beast Protein at night. You have to fuel the body for recovery.
2. DO ANY MOVEMENTS YOU CAN PAIN FREE
You want to minimize any amount of atrophy you can, so wort the muscles you can without causing any more injury to the damaged area. You want to be disciplined in the sense of not being over enthusiastic and re-injuring yourself, but also not avoiding all exercise and using injuries as an excuse.
Thereʼs a difference between pain and therapeutic discomfort, and youʼll be the only one to really know. Remember, this is more of a maintenance phase. You're not trying to set PRs, but every injury is different. I live by the motto, “do what you can, when you can."
3. REMAIN OPTIMISTIC
So many people allow injuries to drag them down into depression. Itʼs important to remember that your mind is your biggest advocate, but also your worst enemy. Your recovery will only be as limited as you believe it will be. The honest truth is some injuries are so bad that you will never be the same. But people who are determined to accomplishment something find a way, even if it was different than what was originally intended.
4. SLEEP AND REST
While injured, the most important thing you can do is allow a full recovery. Sleep, along with diet (and water intake), are top priorities for recovery. You canʼt keep up the same intensity you had prior to the injury, and rest is not going to slow your progress down. After surgeries, I sleep 8-10 hours per night, plus naps throughout the day. Your body wants to heal and the best way to do that is sleep.
5. FOCUS ON WHAT MOTIVATED YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE
Serious injuries can make people reevaluate a lot of priorities. You go from being the best, in-shape version of yourself to needing help for basically everything. Itʼs a surreal and very humbling experience.
Itʼs easy to walk away from what hurt you, but to me thatʼs never been an option. I refuse to be beaten by an injury. I knew the risks before I started my journey as a powerlifter so I accepted that injuries could come at anytime. But I always remain focused on the things that motivated me from the beginning. Iʼll stop competing one day, but it will be because Iʼm ready to walk away - not because Iʼm scared to keep pushing myself.