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  • Chris Goodman

Injury, training and recovery...

You've been lifting, eating well and feel like you're on a roll. Then life throws a curve ball and you get hurt... You tweak your back, or pull a calf, or have your 100# German Shepherd pup, who wants to meet a new friend, screw up your shoulder. Nothing is more depressing than being injured and thinking of all the strength your gonna lose. So what do you do? You cry into your beer, say screw it and eat your depression away all while sitting on your duff at home... But wait!!! It doesn't have to be that way!


Yes, we can lose strength after around 2-3 week but it takes a longer time to lose actual muscle tissue. Also, that strength loss is temporary. The beautiful thing about muscle is once the groundwork is laid, you CAN regain lost muscle and strength in a reasonable amount of time.


Again, after around 2-3 weeks, we do lose strength. It's when we push to 6-12 weeks that significant muscle mass is lost. But think about this.... If you've been lifting for a significant amount of time...say 10 years and you have to lay off for 10 week, then you've got a solid base of muscle and the amount of muscle loss would be less. Now compared to someone who has only lifted for 10 months, 10 weeks bites into their muscle maturity a bit more, so there's more muscle loss.


So what do we do to reduce the amount of regression from an injury? First, get over the fact that you have an injury. It's ok to have a pity party but don't camp there. The only thing that will come out of that is regret. So, embrace what you can control and let go of the what ifs and the negative thoughts that will derail you.


Eat well! Your body needs those nutrients to help heal itself. Now that doesn't mean eat a lot, but eat with healing in mind. If you had a high caloric intake, you may want to reduce it to around 10-20% above your BMR. BMR, or basal metabolic rate is what our energy intake needs are for basic function. From there we can determine an estimated energy intake for our different activity levels. For example, if I took my BMR and multiplied it by an activity factor of 1.7 to get how much I needed to eat while lifting hard, I may want to re figure that for around 1.2. What we don't want to do is drop into an excessive calorie deficit. This can be out of fear of gaining fat while not training as hard. But don't sweat it, you're still going to train what you can and let the body repair itself.


Make sure you're getting in enough protein to help with building up muscle tissue. For some, that may mean a boost in their original protein intake. Before my injury, I was shooting for around 140g's protein. Now, I'm pushing it to 155 to help with recovery. This is subjective since we should gauge our intake to how much resistance training we do, our LMM, gender and age. But a safe rule of thumb is 1g protein per lb of body weight for a healthy individual, not overweight. If that's the case, you'll need to find out what your LMM is.


Also, don't shy away from adequate amounts of healthy fats. Eating fish, chicken and lean meats or adding in (if you are not taking them already..GASP!!) quality fish oil can help w/ some fats. Otherwise, olive oil, coconut oil, nuts, chia seeds and such can help contribute to healthy fat intake. I like to push people to intake up to 30% of their total caloric intake from fat. This helps w/ nutrient shuttling, hormone balance and satiety.


Now about training... Be smart! Don't risk training the effected area and be cautious of unilateral work. Sometimes, we can apply torque to the body while lifting and it can hamper recovery. For example, with my shoulder injury, I'm only doing legs and some very light single arm exercises. I want to be careful not to cause a muscle imbalance anyway, but learning what I have from working as a PT aid, torque happens and I want to heal. I'll get back to upper body work in time.


So be smart in your training, eat well and think of food as your medicine, and don't camp out at the pity party. You may not have chosen to get hurt, but you DO have a choice in how you respond and recover. Trust me, I've been there....again!

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