Why Does It Hurt So Bad?
November 30, 2021 @ 4:00pm
We’ve all had them and if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. An injury that affects your mobility or causes pain during athletic events. Having recently completed eight strenuous months of training to run 100-miles non-stop this past October, I’m no stranger to the aches and pains and the need to follow the advice “you need to let your body rest, listen to it.”
I recently sat down with friend and fitness coach Pablo Brown, a Master Trainer in Washington D.C. with 18 years in the fitness industry, to discuss mid-injury body maintenance. He has trained athletes, the average Joe on a fitness quest, expecting mothers, geriatrics and everyone in between. What did we talk about? How does one continue moving towards fitness goals or incorporate fitness into their life for the first time…with an injury?
Knees, back issues, shoulders, ankles — the body is literally made up of many moving pieces that, when injured, require us to consciously proceed with caution.
It’s easier said than done, especially when we’re eager to get back on track during a training regiment, finish an endurance event or simply get in better shape. One solution to slowing down is seeking professional support.
“I feel a lot of people go to a personal trainer because they are trying to figure out how to train better,” Brown says. “And when there’s an injury, a lot of people who work out on their own already, tend to go to a trainer to give them answers on how to stay fit.”
It’s important to identify what works best for you/provides the best results. To that end, here are some key considerations when approaching fitness with an injury:
- Investigate the requirements of your particular sport and reason for training (weight loss, building strength, etc.).
- Remember, depending on the severity of your injury, a trainer doesn’t just perform the duty of a coach, but the role of your psychologist; they guide you through the mental challenges of hitting physical roadblocks.
- Make sure during your training you are not over training other parts of your body. People tend to try and compensate for a lack of ability. Balance and restrained progress are crucial.
“Clients get injured during training, and unfortunately, it’s a complicated issue,” Brown adds. “If a client gets hurt, it’s my job to know how to help them get back. What is their idea of fitness while injured? Are they wanting to not lose weight during? I check in constantly on diet, and adjust the diet based on what their current output is. It also depends on the timeline of the injury — whether it was yesterday or three months ago.”
If it’s a fitness related injury, Brown suggests assessing your pre-injury training and determining the root cause. You may then need to recalibrate your training, based on current capabilities, to sustain intensity.
And Brown not only knows how to push clients through an injury to achieve fitness goals, but he is able to guide them, in real-time, while they achieve ambitious fitness endeavors.
To shed some light on the topic, let’s flashback to about two months ago. I was between mile 28 and 29 of non-stop running, at the tail end of finishing a 31-hour run, and hadn’t slept all night. I made it through eight months of training and the first 80 miles with the help of my coach Brandon Petelin, and when Brown joined in with 20 miles to go, I was in the middle of the darkest stretch yet.
My legs ached beyond what I could ever have fathomed. I was exhausted, delirious and unsure how I would finish. Despite my resistance, Brown knew what I needed to push through, and executed his plan. I was allowed to sit for short periods (not longer than five minutes). I was barely able to walk, but Brown saw that I could keep up with him when I was running. The key was constant movement to keep my leg muscles warm.
Brown never relented, instead, verbalizing a step-by-step plan of action.
“Here’s what we are going to do; we have to keep moving, so we are going to walk for a minute, then run for a minute.”
With tears overwhelming my eyes, I obliged. The goal? To finish. period. Every time I ran my legs flared with pain. All I had flashing in my head was that beginning scene from Forrest Gump, when he ran with braces on his legs, until they broke off…that’s how I felt.
That day my body and mind were pushed to the limit, but my only choice was to keep going. And I did it again and again. step by excruciating step, until I finished. I could not have done it without guidance, coaching, support and intense focus on the end goal.
The takeaway? Whether injured or not, train smart, seek coaching when needed and be kind to yourself. There’s no shame in asking for help or changing course, if it means reaching the finish (whatever that finish is) in-tact mentally and physically. Your body, mind and spirit literally depend on it.
Enjoy this piece? Consider becoming a member for access to our premium digital content. Support local journalism and start your membership today.