Injury is Inevitable (Part One)

If you’re alive on this planet, sooner or later you’re going to get injured.

The how and why of it all doesn’t really matter, unless it can help you to heal.

Why injury is inevitable, and how to deal.

Coaches and gurus talk about training in the right system, the right way, one that will prevent and protect against injuries rather than cause them.

But the simple reality is this: injury is inevitable. If you train, if you exercise randomly or train in a formalised context, sooner or later something’s going to go wrong. You may feel it’s your own fault, or that of the teacher, but really it’s nobody’s fault. Human bodies get injured.

The thing is, some teachers will swear by their own propaganda so blindly, that you will believe it is your fault when you get injured, and you will be ashamed. You did it wrong.

Except that you didn’t. You are a student; you are learning, and for those of you who are teachers, you are students too.

There are four obvious risks:

  1. Inappropriately prescribed exercises
  2. Poor technique
  3. Ego
  4. Absentmindedness.

And then there are simple physical dangers too, that have nothing to do with intention.

The world is chaotic. Hazards exist, and you are not always as physically prepared as you would like to be. We do not possess infinite degrees of body- and self-awareness. And that is not our fault either.

Typically in the gym, if you are a weightlifter like I am, it is easy not to injure yourself – but you run the risk of progressing very slowly, which some people can’t tolerate. Therefore, people appear to be more likely to injure themselves – to resort to extreme measures – when they are at a plateau. Ironically, perhaps, overtraining and riding the edge of injury can lead you to a plateau, and it’s here that care is required. Injuries are more likely to occur when you’re pushing for one more rep than is entirely safe, or you’re stacking too much weigh onto the bar. You are not yet ready, and you are impatient.

In yoga class, the same behaviours are seen when people strive for asana they are not yet ready for.

Injury is Inevitable - how to cope

Progressions should always be appropriate. And everyone usually has something entirely unexciting that they would benefit from working on. But that is often boring, and we are bold and reckless, and in this regard – everything is as it should be. Humans didn't get where we are by not taking risks. Plus, training should be challenging and fun, from time to time. If you never train recklessly, how will you be prepared for recklessness when it occurs?

There is no glamour in the end.

I remember when I started to become skilled at martial arts, and I started winning medals. People thought I was lucky, and I was, but when you rub up against the mountain of work that you are required to do in order to progress, the glamour disappears in an instant. Much of training is simple things, small movements, subtle repetitions. There is a reason it’s called your practice.

You develop slowly, and you learn from it.

Life and training have a way of teaching you about the nature of patience.

Note from Nadine: This post - the first in a two-part series - comes from my friend and mm…Yoga! superhero, Chris Serong. You can find him blogging at Move and Be Free.