Understanding Injuries

Let me share a real-life story with you: A man walked into his doctor’s office, complaining of a back injury. The doctor asked, “What happened?”

“I hurt my back while working out, doc,” he replied.

The doctor inquired further, “How did it happen?”

The man explained, “I was at the gym, doing my usual Wednesday routine – push-ups, rows, and deadlifts. Nothing extreme, and I wasn’t attempting any personal records. Everything was fine until that very last deadlift rep. I felt something pop in my lower back, and now I’m struggling to stand up straight, in excruciating pain.”

You might think you know what the doctor advised – “Use a heating pad, take some ibuprofen, and stop doing deadlifts.” But that’s the wrong answer.

In situations like this, it calls for a more profound conversation about the circumstances leading up to the injury. Sadly, most doctors haven’t been trained to think like coaches.

Now, don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that coaches replace doctors. But sometimes, the best way to assist someone is through coaching, which involves asking the right questions.

You see, every individual has a limit to how much stress or “load” their body can bear in a given day before something goes wrong, like an injury or illness. That limit is your capacity. Stay below it, and you’re on the safe side. Exceed it, and you’re risking trouble.

So, I would ask this patient about their activities leading up to that fateful gym session:

  • How many hours did they sleep the night before?
  • Did they stay adequately hydrated?
  • How many meals included protein and vegetables?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how would they rate their work and relationship stress levels?

By digging deeper into these aspects, you might discover that this patient had a series of stressful situations, one after another. As these stress “boxes” piled up, by the time he reached that final set of deadlifts, he was over his capacity.

Therefore, it wasn’t the deadlift itself that caused the injury; it was all the factors that led to that breaking point.

Remember, the goal each day shouldn’t be to feel crushed by your workout. It should leave you feeling awesome, and you should still be well within your capacity.

If you’ve ever been injured during a workout, it’s likely not that last lift or swing that’s to blame; it’s everything that piled up before it pushed you over the edge.