Ever since I wrote about turning 40 last year, my inbox seems to a magnet for questions about injury recovery and prevention. Apparently, much of the world assumes that once you hit 40, the body begins to deteriorate, and you become plagued by injuries. If you know me though, you won’t be surprised that I disagree with what much of the world assumes. My approach to training has not changed at all since I hit the big Four-O. In fact, my last year of training was quite productive despite a hectic schedule that included several trips back and forth to Europe as a boxing coach.
The Year in Review
Before I share my thoughts on injury prevention, here’s a quick look at life in my 40s. I can honestly say that I don’t feel any different today than I did 10+ years ago. I still train just as hard as I always have.
As far as training hard without injury, there’s nothing special about me, nor is there anything flashy about what I do. I don’t have any secret yoga techniques to share. I’ve never once used a foam roller. I don’t follow any particular diet. And I’m not a bionic man. What I am though is consistent. Consistency has always been my greatest attribute. I don’t miss days.
In the video that follows, I share some related thoughts.
Misconceptions of Hard Work
It’s a huge myth to assume that hard work will destine one to injury. As I tweeted above, I train hard so that I don’t get injured. Don’t confuse hard work with reckless work however. Just because I train with intensity doesn’t mean that I leave my brain at the door.
Thus, while I push myself hard, I never ignore the feedback that my body provides. If something is bothering me or doesn’t feel right, I won’t simply push through it for the sake of finishing a workout. Instead, I listen to my body and work around (not through) any discomfort. I have no problem stopping an exercise or workout if something does not feel right. There’s no glory in pushing through physical pain just to complete a workout. I train to improve myself, not beat myself into the ground.
In addition to listening to the body and applying common sense, I believe patience and varied intensity are both imperative to training without injury. Trying to rush progress and/or always training with maximal intensity are two common reasons for injury.
First, patience in regards to training is one of the best attributes you can have. As I’ve said many times before, there are no shortcuts. Significant change does not happen overnight. You must be prepared for the long haul. Trying to do more than you can handle will almost always lead to problems. And often times, impatience is the underlying culprit. Many people aren’t willing to put in the time that is necessary to accomplish their goals. Instead, they try to take shortcuts, only to find a road filled with potholes.
Additional Reading – The Power of Patience
II. Varied Intensity
In addition, constantly pushing yourself to the max each day is a recipe for failure. It might not happen right away, but you’ll eventually run into problems. With that in mind, I have no problem including lighter days if my body is giving me any signs of getting run down. Such days aren’t planned. I shift gears at any time to a lighter day if my body is asking for it.
It’s important to note though that I don’t view lighter days as easier days. I still work hard, but my intensity will be applied in a different direction. For example, I will often challenge my hand-eye coordination on a lighter day. The work remains difficult, but it is distributed differently. My brain might be challenged, but the physical toll on my body is much less.
Additional Reading – Varying Your Training Intensity
In summary, I hope this entry sheds some light on injury prevention. Because while the subject is often grossly complicated, I strongly believe it quite simple to train regularly without injuring yourself. Always remember that the goal of training is to make the body stronger and more resilient. The goal is not to run yourself into the ground so that you’re unable to function.
Common sense and consistency can do magical things together without unnecessary complexity.
“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” – Robert Collier
A quick note: the link to “Power of Patience” misdirects to another article.
Simple and wise piece of advice nevertheless!
Awesome, fixed it. Thank you!
Ok, I follow your blog and enjoy your philosophy but as a once â€œhardcoreâ€ athlete I caution you to downplay promoting the thoughts that simply â€œpaying attentionâ€ to your body will prevent injury. If youâ€™re hardcore it can also be said that you have a certain degree of â€œpushingâ€ past the pain. This is where the danger lies. 40 I was invincible but 48 I have to be mindful of working things on my body ( in a wuss like and very i hardcore manner) that keep me functional and healthy. With age and experience comes some wisdom. Just be open that it could be the case for you and others.
That’s why I mentioned leaving the pushing past the pain mindset at the door. As stated within the article:
“Thereâ€™s no glory in pushing through physical pain just to complete a workout. I train to improve myself, not beat myself into the ground.”
There’s really no part of my own training that is based on pushing through pain.
Consistency is everything, you nailed it. Staying injury free long term requires maturity and dedication in it of itself.
Hi Ross, two very important points there for life long training safely. I think few people understand the need to continue doing what you have always done as you get older, keeping the body in motion becomes even more important as we get older but varying the intensity as you point out is the key. Training hard but training smart. At 67 i can do pretty much everything i have been able to do for the past 55 years, though with some things like lifting the weights have gone down but not the technique or the effort i put in. I have also found it to be important to continue training with injury doing all that you are capable of without of course stressing the injured area. Healing comes much quicker this way. Any injury i have had has come from non training related accidents never from training.
100 percent agreement with Peter and of course Ross… I’ll be training as usual on my 61st birthday in a few days time, while my wife (who’s a couple of years older) will be running 9 miles. Keeping it simple, staying old-school.
Outstanding as usual, Ross! I speak to kids and use the Compounding of a penny as a visual. Not only demonstrates the power of consistency…it â€œprovesâ€ it. Always a pleasure rubbing up against you.
Good advice as usual Ross. Thanks