There’s no way around it: chronic pain, whether due to an illness, persistent injury, or an acute incident, sucks.
If you are an active or competitive person ever been seriously injured or treated with significant pain, it is known that can be devastating. If you are a coach or a trainer, you know that maintaining a motivated and even compatible client in this scenario is very difficult, if not worse.
Adapt Workout Goals to Chronic Pain and Injury
Why it is that a seemingly superficial issue, such as injury, can inspire a pain response so powerful?
Human beings, especially those who are attracted to physical activities competitive or challenging, generally have a why, that is our ultimate goal end, and how, that is how you intend to get there, we motivates our training.
When we find how it aligns with our goals and we feel productive, often they begin to identify with how it will confuse the ultimate end goal with our ways of achieving it.
If the goal of someone is stronger, and the way to accomplish that goal is to adhere to a program of weightlifting, it is not uncommon for that person is identified as someone who deadlifts, benches and squats, as opposed to identification as a person in general who want to become stronger.
Pain and injury are uniquely potent in their ability to keep us from those hows that form fundamental pieces of our identities.
If I identify as a weightlifter and suffers a back injury that keeps me dead weight and squatting for an extended period, during this time of extreme limitation, feels like a part of me it is gone. That feeling is horrible.
When or if the problem becomes chronic, another set of challenges in itself provides. Many times, we can save our motivation, based on the idea that our pain or injury is only temporary.
When it ceases to be the case, hope is lost and can act in ways that are harmful to our health, such as completely stop physical activity.
There is a grieving process that occurs typical injuries around that I think is normal and sometimes inevitable. However, there are concrete steps we can take as athletes and coaches to overcome some of the harmful effects of this process.
1. Develop a Symbiotic, Proactive Relationship With Pain
Develop a proactive yet symbiotic relationship with their pain or injury. irrational behavior all the hurt and pain is often due to the mentality of that pain is an opponent or does not belong.
When suffering a severe injury or have chronic pain, our pain perception that must change for us to maintain our mental and act in ways that support our ultimate goals.
The first step is to consider that this limitation is not going to disappear for a while. Some may call this radical notion acceptance; No matter where you were or where you want to be, you agree that your body is now.
At the same time, take action every day to make sure you are doing something to treat pain. Working with a qualified professional in the proactive part.
Bottom line: Accept your current circumstances, but take daily steps to do something to change them.
2. Think Objectively About Why and How
Think more objectively about their why, and then find other hows. One of the exercises I do with my clients involves deeper into the root of its primary objectives (AKA, why).
When we lose our preferred method, we find different ways to get to the why. Sometimes the why is not as clear as it seems.
For example, if someone says his ultimate goal is to do a pull-up, his real goal might be:
- To develop more upper body strength
- To become more effective at a particular activity
- To achieve something physically novel
Bottom line: Get to the root of your why. Then start thinking about alternative hows.
3. Develop and Hone Your Movement Toolbox
Develop and refine your toolbox movement. One of the embodiments powerful I see in clients is that when it comes to moving, there are always other options.
These options are dynamic and may change from day to day, and almost always will change as our bodies adjust and compensate the new circumstances.
However, over time you learn that if a specific tool (also known as a particular form) is not available to us, there is always another tool we can use.
In extreme circumstances, such as the case of a systemic asthma attack or something similar, it may be that the tool is not physical, but still helps us to approach one of our ultimate goals real. This principle is what keeps us productive and advance despite our limitations acute or chronic.
Bottom line: Always have a plan B (and C) ready to go.
The Bottom Line of the Bottom Lines
While injury and pain can steal the spotlight and appear to keep us from our goals, if we change our perception, identify what we need, and get a little creative with our solutions, we can still make progress.
Identify, adapt, and move.