Training Around Injury, Not Through It

by Kyle Hogwood | 7/10/2019

Injuries happen in the weight room all the time and they range from minor to severe in how they can affect training. Whether you did not have training volume properly managed, had awful technique, wanted to go for a PR on your fifth set of singles, or you thought you were still in college and tried to play a game of pick up basketball. INJURIES HAPPEN, and there are ways to modify what you are doing in the weight room to continue to train around the pain to allow for the body to heal itself. NEVER TRAIN THROUGH INTENSE PAIN.

My pet peeve is when someone gets hurt during training (for example doing bench press). Then they go see their general medical professional or go to a quick visit doc who has no knowledge on strength training, biomechanics, training modifications, or even what a bench press is. What does this medical professional tell them? “Well if it hurts to bench, and you hurt yourself benching, then you should stop benching”. 1 of 2 things will happen after this point:

1.) The Patient will trust the medical advice as golden knowledge and no longer bench press because they think that it is an unsafe exercise and now they tell all their friends that you shouldn’t bench because it’s bad for you and you will hurt your shoulders.

2.) They will leave the medical office annoyed that they didn’t get any help and they will disregard that advice and now they have no path to continue training. This second option often leads to return to training too early and further injury.


If the injury is severe enough, I encourage you to seek out a medical professional that is specialized and understands strength and conditioning, orthopedic conditions, or sports medicine. If this is not an option, there are things that you can do to modify your training.

First, it is important to understand that the body does take time to heal, no medicine, foam rolling, blood flow restriction, or chiropractic technique is better than the body’s own healing process and the body takes time. These treatment techniques can facilitate healing, but it might just take time.

There are many things that you can do to train around the pain. Standard options include:

1.) Reducing training intensity.

2.) Reducing training volume.

3.) Reducing range of motion of exercises.

4.) Trying variations that train the same muscle group.

Back to the bench press example:

1.) Reducing training intensity to 20-25% is usually a good start.

2.) Reducing training volume

3.) Reducing range of motion using blocks, rack press, floor press.

4.) Variations: trying a dumbbell bench with elbows tucked, using chest press machines for a short-time.

This is just a starting point, and this can be applied to any body part or movement that is tweaked. Find the right exercise, weight and range of motion that is pain-free and gradually progress back to your previous work-load over 2-4 weeks. This injury can also give you an opportunity to focus on accessory muscles that have not been getting as much attention.

*This is not medical advice, please seek out your local sports medicine physician or physical therapist for medical advice*

Kyle Hogwood: Physical Therapy Student, CSCS, USA-W

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