If you train long enough, you will experience an injury. There is just no way around it. However, there are certain steps you can take to prevent injury as well as recover from an injury. In the last year, I have had to recover from a broken arm (not training-related) and a strained biceps tendon in my shoulder (training-related). Both of these injuries involved significant care and protection to ensure proper healing. They both took time and medical intervention and would have only gotten worse had I not taken a break from training and focused on getting better. The last thing you need is to have your hunt affected (or even cancelled) because you didn’t take the time to properly heal from an injury. If you are dealing with an injury right now (or if you get injured in the future), here are a few things to keep in mind:
How to recover from an injury:
As they say, the best offense is a good defense. If you are proactive to avoid injury, then you will be far more likely to remain healthy. By always using proper form, appropriate weight, and being aware of what your body is telling you, you can minimize injury. Injury usually happens when we lose focus or try to push it harder than our body can go. Discomfort in the form of deep throbbing or sharp pain is a huge red flag that you need to pull back and stop whatever you are doing. Pay attention to what your body is telling you; it is never wrong.
Also, making sure that you work on your flexibility is a great way to reduce injury. Many muscular injuries are the result of poor flexibility, leading to muscle strains. Stretch regularly and you will be amazed at your body’s ability to avoid injury. You’ll also feel better too!
Take a Few Days Off
If you have a muscle strain or sore ligaments/tendons, taking 2-3 days off will allow your body to focus on healing the injury, rather than repairing the muscles that you keep training. If you do not allow your body to heal and just try to “push through”, your injury might not heal at all and instead only get worse. Taking 2-3 days off now is better than 2-3 weeks off (or more) down the road.
Seek Medical Attention if the Problem Persists
As I mentioned above, the two injuries I have dealt with this year did not get better until I went to the doctor. The broken arm is a given, but my shoulder had severe inflammation from my biceps tendon and it was affecting all of the muscles around the joint, including my back and neck muscles. I could not train anymore and needed additional help. I went to the doctor and received a cortisone shot in my shoulder. 2 days later, no more pain, no more inflammation. I was on the road to recovery.
Take it Slow
When you get back to training, do not try to train at the level you were training before the injury. Instead, do light, slow, controlled moves to engage your stabilizers and strengthen the injured area now that it is healing. Taking it slow for a week is better than pushing too hard, re-injuring yourself (likely worse than the first time), and missing out on months of training. Also, braces and wraps can be invaluable to recover as they help stabilize weak joints and muscles.
Focus on Proper Nutrition
Vitamins, amino acids, protein, fatty acids, etc., are all crucial to recovery as they provide the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones with the nutrients they need to rebuild. Make sure you are taking your multi-vitamin, omega-3 oils, and protein while you are recovering.
As you can see, the common theme through all of these points is listening to your body and not trying to make it do something it can’t do. If you face an injury this year, take the time up front to heal and recover so that you can be back to full-health when hunting season opens.