How to Deal with Injuries

The best way to deal with injuries is to prevent them. But if you’re reading this, I’m guessing it might be too late for that.

The next best way to deal with injuries is to immediately go to a qualified medical professional or physical therapist. Follow their instructions, not just what you read on the internet.

One of the worst ways to deal with injuries is to try to ignore them, continue or intensify your workouts, and hope they will go away on their own. Spoiler alert: they usually don’t. It’ll be awkward when someone asks how long you’ve had the issue and you have to admit it’s been 2 months and try to explain why you haven’t done anything about it.

DIY Approach (Risky)

There is a bit of a middle ground. If you are a stubborn idiot like me and the injury is relatively minor (small amount of pain, appears infrequently, and hasn’t been around for long), you could try to attempt healing it on your own. However, if you choose to go down this path, start by setting some rules for yourself. For example: if the pain gets worse or doesn’t change for X amount of time, I will go see someone who actually knows what they’re doing.

Doctor using computer

Once you’ve decided on that, the next step is often surprisingly hard to hear: stop working out. Stop doing anything intense with the body part in question. For example, if we’re talking about a shoulder you can sometimes feel a twinge in during silks training, then no more aerial classes until it’s better. No, not even if you promise to be really really careful this time, or just do moves on your left side. You may still do completely unrelated exercises – in our example, you could do squats and lunges to focus on the lower body for a change.

After about ~3 days, any residual muscle soreness (DOMS) should be gone, which should make the actual issue easier to identify. The next step is to do a LOT of research. This is the main reason I would ever recommend approaching an injury on your own; it can be a very educational experience.

Figure out precisely what movement and angle triggers pain, and what that means. If you often notice the pain in the back of your shoulder when you raise your arm overhead and to the side, you might investigate the rotator cuff, learn that it’s composed of four muscles, and go through the injury tests for each. When you only reliably test positive for teres minor, you can focus your rehab plan for that. To emphasize again, this process can take a long time. As an amateur you need to keep in mind that there could be factors that you haven’t considered properly, or knowledge you are missing. So proceed with caution.

Once you’ve identified the problematic part, look up PT exercises to strengthen it and the surrounding area. Having a theraband or equivalent might be helpful. You might also want to read up on general injury prevention, common causes related injuries, and so on. Try to identify what might have initially caused the issue.

For a couple of weeks, avoid putting any load onto the injured area: that means still no aerials or intense exercise. You can introduce mild movement or yoga (you don’t want to lose mobility after all), but ideally nothing that triggers the pain. Just keep doing those PT exercises every 2-3 days (they should not cause pain or feel overly strenuous). Injuries can take 2-6 weeks to heal.

Once you think it might be healed (let’s say when you haven’t felt anything bad for a whole week), you can start gradually introducing heavier exercise back in. Don’t jump straight on the trapeze – ease yourself back in, and take plenty of rest days to let muscles recover and strengthen. The most important thing is to not re-injure yourself.

Keep in mind that if you go back to training exactly as you were before, that won’t really fix the original issue – it’ll just temporarily patch it. Sooner or later it will reoccur if you don’t fix the underlying problem in your training. And if it does, seek outside help.

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