For the last few years I’ve been the guy that people come to when something doesn’t feel right. Everything from back spasms, to ankle sprains and shoulder issues, I’ve seen and handled it all. An amazing thing happens when I ask, “What have you done since the issue started?”
The answers I get are simply astonishing. The problem is, there's so much misinformation out there that it can be difficult to know what works and what’s a waste of time, money and energy. Things like:
Wearing a brace will help recover from injury
Using heat or ice to treat your injury will help you recover faster
Orthotic inserts work wonders for alleviating knee, ankle or hip pan
Stretching before exercise will prevent injury
Your only option is surgery
It's easy to fall back on some of these things because it's what we've been taught for so long. But today, I wanted to debunk some of the common myths of dealing with injuries so you can start thinking differently when it comes to your self care.
MYTH #1: YOU CAN PREVENT INJURY
Did I just blow your mind with that headline? Wouldn’t be surprised if I did.
Everywhere you look you see coaches trying to sell their program by saying “I’ll show you how to prevent injury” but it’s not true. You can do your best to lessen the severity of an injury but there’s no such thing as preventing it. I mean, if there was a way I could guarantee clients would never get hurt again, I’d be a billionaire sitting on the beach somewhere right now. So why can’t you prevent injury?
Because life happens…
You can slip
You can get caught in a weird position
Someone can throw a Frisbee at your head (this happened to me once!)
Some things are just out of our control.
What you CAN do is prepare your body to lessen the effects of when “life happens” but you certainly can't prevent it.
So the next time you see someone promoting a program that “prevents injury” do me a favor and throw a frisbee at their head.
MYTH #2: WHEN IN DOUBT, ICE IT UP
I’ll admit, for years my wife and I have had bags and bags of frozen peas in our freezer. When I was playing rugby and powerlifting, my nightly routine consisted of throwing these bags on both sides of my knees and shoulders. I’m sure it was a sight to see, me sitting on my couch covered in bags of frozen produce.
Unfortunately, this did nothing for me and it actually slowed the healing process down.
The latest research in dealing with injuries has shown that icing actually slows down the healing process. Think about it. Cold restricts blood flow by constricting all of our blood vessels which deliver all of the amazing healing properties that our bodies need. So why do we keep throwing an ice pack on everything that hurts?
MYTH #3: IT HURTS SO GOOD!
I can’t tell you how many times I've jammed a lacrosse ball, foam roller, or massage stick into the injured areas of my body. If something hurts just smash the hell out of it so it will feel better while you think, "It hurts so good!”
Do you realize how crazy that sounds?
But we’ve all done it…all of us! Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a time and place for these modalities but definitely not for smashing injured tissue. They’re meant to be used on tissue that is “tight”, creating more blood flow, and a way to recover after a hard training session, but not to beat up knots, pain points or injured tissue. Do me a favor and don’t insult your tissue.
MYTH #4: "I JUST NEED TO REST IT"
This is the dreaded 4 letter word no active person ever wants to hear. We’ve all been there thinking that if we take time off of training, the problem will go away.
You definitely have to stop playing your sport or activity if it’s causing you pain, however, that doesn’t mean you just completely stop using the injured area. Resting alone will not let it heal. The inflammation will go down, but if you don’t start getting to the root of the problem, it will definitely come back with a full vengeance!
When you stop using a particular joint, all of the surrounding tissue will start to tighten up and it will actually make your original issue worse.
So what do you do if something is injured?
You should start moving that area as much as possible without causing pain. For instance, if you roll your ankle really bad, you must start moving that ankle all day everyday in pain-free ranges. This will speed up blood flow to the injured area which is super important.
Secondly, when an injury happens, your body starts laying down fibroblasts, (the connective tissue which begins the healing process). If you don’t move the injured area, the fibroblasts will get laid down randomly, meaning you will have irregular joint function when the injury heals. This means more problems down the road.
However, if you move the injured area in all the ways you can move, the the fibroblasts will lay down the right way and normal joint function will return…winner winner!
Just remember - if you don't use it, you lose it
ABOUT COACH MATT PIPPIN
Matt is a Strength and Conditioning Coach and Level 3 Fascial Stretch Therapist with over 15 years experience in his field. After years of playing sports as a child, Matt gained an interest in health and wellness and decided to pursue a career in strength and conditioning. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Exercise Science in 2005. During college Matt played rugby and interned as a Strength and Conditioning Coach with the football team.
Post graduation, he worked with professional athletes as the Head Strength and Conditioning Coach for NFL Europe's Berlin Thunder. For 8 years, Matt worked in Chicago, IL at the East Bank Club as a Master Personal Trainer, Performance Coach and Fascial Stretch Therapist helping athletes and weekend warriors achieve their personal goals. Inspired by the overall quality and active lifestyle that California is known for, Matt and his wife Jennifer moved to San Diego in the summer of 2014 and haven’t looked back!
NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Level 3: Fascial Stretch Specialist
Level 1: Institute of Motion Health Coach
Certified FRC Mobility Specialist (FRCms)
Level 1 Kinstretch Instructor