Injury and Opportunity


A while back I remember discussing injury and a fellow coach insisting for the move from injury to opportunity. At the time he meant the opportunity to do great rehab, overcome, and set personal records. While covering the proper bases to rehabilitate the injury is priority number one, injury provides some other opportunities that wouldn’t exist in the course of a normal season or training. Don’t get me wrong injury sucks, but it brings to a head and stark reality certain deficiencies, while providing chances to catch up other qualities/biomotor abilities that are difficult to move in-season.

Cognitively, athletes can be made aware of issues all you want, but frequently the most compliant athlete is the one who’s been burned before and had it go very wrong (unfortunately some of these folks, who are now great to work with, are too far gone). Injury brings things to a head and is a point from which to alter and set a very directed and often improved course.

Some Practical Training Examples Of Injury to Opportunity (athlete specific based upon injury, situational, and developmental/biomotor needs)

Lower Limb issue shuts you down for a while (say plantar fascia) and you can still lift/train, but not sprint. Invest in the Olympic lifts, somatotypical changes, and increasing the capacity to create power.

You’re a hurdler with large flexibility deficits and you have jaw surgery and can’t be very active. Take the opportunity away from training loads to become more flexible.

You have a tissue injury that limits hip extension (ie upright sprinting/running) and have squishy feet and ankles. Invest in stiffness, and corrective strategies for the foot.

You’re rehabbing a hamstring tear and aren’t that great of an accelerator. A classical Mach progression like 2x10x10 is a pretty good opportunity to get in some skill/power specific work.

You have to be careful not to overdose into other issues as corrective exercise, and increased volumes directed at specific qualities, carry with them their own joint and tissue overuse concerns. However, when certain elements are out, that allows a shift of emphasis and the possibility to accomplish things at greater rates than possible under normal or in-season training loads.
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Matt Gardner
As a track and field coach Matt has produced school record holders and state champions in the sprints, hurdles, jumps and middle distance events. He has coached athletes from a wide variety of sports including Professional Football, World Cup bobsleigh, Swimming, Track and Field, Olympic Weightlifting, Baseball, Tennis, and Golf. Matt has extensive experience consulting and collaborating with high level sports medicine professionals to help rehabilitate injured athletes and optimize the performances of healthy ones.