While I’m working on the next injury post, I wanted to take some time to stop and really explain the PDF/treatment plans that you are finding in our “injury of the week” posts. With five different parts to the treatment plan and varying “levels” in terms of exercise, I admit, it can get a little confusing. Hang in there! As I’m going to show you in this post, everything you need is right there in the PDF. I’m also going to answer the most popular question I get asked- x hurts, but….can I still train?
By now most of you have seen our standard PDF sheets. It has everything you need right on there. The blog posts walk you through everything in further detail, but this is designed to be your go to resource. So what should you be doing with this sheet?
Start with the first box!
This box is important to make sure you’re even looking at the right thing. Most of the injuries we are dealing with on the ATA site are in areas where there can be a few different things going on. That’s why we’ve included a picture to help you see where it would actually hurt. For example, in the sheet above- that blue tape is where your piriformis muscle actually is.
We then go on to describe the symptoms you would feel, as well as, some other possible things it might be. The most important part of this box, however, is the need to see a doctorsection. As I’ve said all along, this site is not designed to keep you from your doctor. It’s to help educate you on when the doctor in question can help you or if you’re better off seeing a different specialist.
** If you’re looking at this sheet and you have some of the symptoms listed in the see a doctor section…….please take it seriously. I’m pretty lenient when it comes to stopping training (as my patients and athletes will tell you), so if I’m saying that certain symptoms are a red flag, it’s for a reason. These symptoms are at a minimum a sign of something bigger going on than a muscle injury. Ignoring the red flags and pushing through will delay you’re recovery and potentially sideline you for a lot longer than you’d like.
The next box is your map through the column of treatments on the right. Along the top you will see the five different self treatments available on the ATA site. The chart itself moves left to right based on what your symptoms are. So for example, in the sample chart above, you’re still having discomfort walking. That puts you firmly in the top row. Following the chart you will start with self massage and moving right across the chart, do everything marked with a yes. As your symptoms improve you will move down the chart. This will change the focus from increasing mobility to restoring strength and muscle balance.
On the right hand side of the page are the individual treatment sections. In each box you will find the directions as well as the links you will need. Keep in mind, there is a learning curve to these treatments. Each of those links will take you to a post that will have pictures/videos and full instructions. Take the time to read them. Once you learn the spots you should be looking for etc, the treatments get easier, but you’ll need to learn them first.
So what isn’t on this page that you want to know? Typically the first question I get asked when people are looking at these treatment sheets is how often should I be doing this stuff? Let’s break it down a little first.
In a typical treatment session, I have you do your mobility work first. Mobility trumps all, however, in the case of an acute injury, it’s going to be limited by any pain/discomfort you get. That’s why we use progressions like around the injury first, then over the injury. You only go as far as you can until there’s pain. Then you stop. Depending on your injury and how far you get this might mean all of the foam roller work and tennis ball mobilizations or it might mean just easy foam rolling work. Let the injury decide, not you. The next step after the mobility work is stretching. We want to build on what you just loosened up by stretching it out.
Once the self massage, mobilizations and stretching are done, I add the kinesiology tape. This is to help support the area and maintain the gains that you are making with the mobility work. After the tape, it’s time to do the strength exercises. Again the exercises are arranged in levels. The first level does not actually impact the injury. As you progress through the levels you challenge the injured area itself. Use the protocol chart on the bottom left of the PDF page to see what level you should be on based on your symptoms.
So I still haven’t actually answered the question about how often you should be doing this have I?
- Mobility work (self massage and mobilizations) = every day. If you can swing it, shoot for twice a day. Use common sense here though. If the area is tender or sore during that second session, skip it until the next day. Whenever you get the chance, ice after 10 minutes (once the pains 100% gone, you can stop icing).
- Stretching = as often as possible. Even if you only get in one 20 second rep of each stretch, that’s fine. Keep it pain free, and stay after it. Ideally we’re looking for 3-5x/day with the stretches. Stay pain free!
- Strengthening = once a day for levels 1 and 2. As you get into level 3, you can start backing this off to 3x/week.
The next question I get asked is “what about my training?”. More often than not, the first question I get is not- what do I do to get this better? It’s what can I do while I get this better? To answer this question, I put together a chart that will help you grade the severity of your injury based on your symptoms, make appropriate training modifications, and determine what course of action is best in terms of medical treatment. Think of it like a giant thermometer. The higher up you move on the chart, the more important action is and the more likely your training and racing will take a hit.
***I can’t stress this enough- use common sense when using this chart. This is not all encompassing and it is not designed to keep you from your healthcare team. If you are experiencing symptoms like numbness/tingling, swelling, scary dark/purple bruising,inability to stand/weight bear, lift your arm over your head, etc please call your Doctor.***
Hope that clears up some of the common questions in using the site and our injury of the week posts!