Becoming Wolverine: How to Recover Faster and Never Get Hurt Again

This is a guest post from my good friend Jason Fitzgerald over at StrengthRunning.com.

As a kid, I used to debate really important questions, like: Which X-Men superhero would I be?

And over and over again, I always came back to Wolverine. The claws! The mutant healing factor! The adamantium skeleton!

I loved Wolverine because his mutant power is one that we can improve ourselves: his enhanced recovery.

While we can’t fuse our bones with a virtually indestructible metal alloy that makes us practically invincible, we can improve our own healing factor so we can work out more without getting hurt.

For many of us, overuse injuries stop us in our tracks. Whether it’s that weird pain in our back when lifting or a burn in our Achilles while running, injuries are an unfortunate reality for Rebels who are leveling up their lives.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a rare occurrence. Some reports place the annual injury rate for runners at over 50%, and over 40% for triathletes. As a coach, this is unacceptable to me.

So what should we do? Stop exercising because we’re afraid of getting hurt? There’s no fun in that.

Instead, you can change how you exercise to lower your injury risk – so you can keep running, jumping, lifting, throwing, and playing.

Wolverine has unparalleled regenerative capabilities – and so can you.

But first…

What Exactly Are Overuse Injuries?

Wolverine Hug

Overuse injuries are what happens when we fall victim to the “3 Too’s” – too much (exercise), too soon (before you’re ready), too fast (at too high of an intensity).

Whether that’s running, Ultimate Frisbee, or golf, overuse injuries can happen if you go all in without letting your body recover in between exercise sessions.

Now, instead of calling it an overuse injury, let’s call it a “repetitive stress injury.” Doing something over and over again causes stress – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – but if we do it too much without enough rest, we could get hurt.

Not all injuries are repetitive stress injuries, though. If Magneto uses his power to extract the iron from your body, that’s not an overuse injury. That’s an acute injury and you need to get to a hospital right now.

Here are some of the most common repetitive stress injuries and the type of athlete they usually afflict:

  • Tennis Elbow (tennis players, weight lifters, those with jobs that have repetitive motions like carpenters, plumbers, or butchers)
  • Patellar (knee) Tendinitis (weight lifters, basketball players, anyone who jumps a lot)
  • IT Band Syndrome (cyclists, hikers, and runners)
  • Achilles Tendinopathy (runners and hikers)
  • Plantar Fasciitis (runners, hikers, and those who spend a lot of time on their feet)

You might be asking yourself – do injuries only happen to endurance specialists? The answer is nope!

Overuse injuries are common among any type of athlete, not just those who prefer endurance sports like running, cycling, or swimming. In fact, they’re the most common injury among weightlifters, too!

Since these types of injuries are repetitive, those of us who specialize in a single sport are more at risk. I train for marathons and I’m more likely to get an overuse injury than someone who just runs casually a few times a week.

Staci trains for weightlifting competitions so she’s more likely to get a repetitive stress injury than a Rebel who only does bodyweight workouts twice a week.

Even X-Men can be at a higher risk for repetitive stress injuries. If Gambit keeps throwing playing cards all day, he could develop tennis elbow. Nightcrawler’s prehensile tail could get tendinitis if he spent hours crawling and swinging in battle with the Brotherhood of Mutants.

Now that we know what repetitive stress injuries are, how do you actually avoid them?

Recovery 101

Medic

There are specific ways you can adjust your exercise routine (like doing neutral grip chin ups in the PLP program, for example) to help prevent injuries. However, none of them would work if you didn’t allow yourself time to recover in between workouts!

Without recovery, you can’t adapt to your workout and get stronger or faster. After all, it’s in the recovery period that your muscles rebuild faster and stronger – not the workout itself.

I’m a nerd and love graphs so here’s how this adaptation principle works (for strength training, replace “race” with “next workout”):

Stress Adaptation

See how important recovery is?

If you follow every workout with a night of hard drinking and only four hours of sleep, you’re never going to see any progress.

While it would be awesome to have Wolverine’s healing factor, it’s best to listen to my college coach’s advice: “you can’t burn the candle at both ends.”

So how exactly do you get the maximum amount of recovery in between workouts? Just three easy payments of $29.95 for RecoverPRO-X2 JAKKD!

Just kidding.

There are no shortcuts to recovery, performance, or getting in shape. If you’re paying out the nose for wacky supplements, you should stop that. Seriously.

There are three aspects of recovery that have the biggest impact on how you feel day to day, so here we go.

1) SLEEP! Getting enough sleep is hands down, absolutely, positively the most important thing you can do to recover in between your workouts. Sleeping as much as you need helps your muscles repair the damage that you inflicted during the workout (this “tear down, then rebuild even stronger” is what fuels the adaptation process and helps you get stronger and faster).

Not getting enough sleep has a huge number of negative physical side effects, like decreased muscle mass, poor recovery, lower testosterone and human growth hormone levels (important for women, too!), and a lot more. That’s bad news bears.

If you’re exercising a lot, you might need more than usual. Experiment with what works best for you, and check out the Nerd Fitness Guide to Sleep.

Diet Matters! Eat a conventional diet of fried food, simple sugar, and virtually no vegetables, and your body won’t be getting the basic building blocks it needs for that rebuilding process. Imagine trying to build a house without any wood? Just imagine it! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

If you exercise a lot, especially if you run, you’ll need more carbohydates. But that doesn’t mean you can gorge on Oreos and sugary sports drinks.

Instead, use the paleo diet principles and add nutrient-dense carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, fruit, wild rice or quinoa.

The RIGHT Training. Recovery is only going to happen if your workout is appropriate for you. New to weight lifting? You shouldn’t start out with six max effort deadlifts. Just started running? Probably not a good idea to sign up for a marathon in three weeks.

Your workouts should always build on themselves. You start at a level that’s appropriate for you and gradually over time your workouts get harder and harder. This is exactly how fellow Rebels see enormous success – they follow good training that progresses over time. It’s tempting to get excited and do too much too soon, but resist the urge.

Once you’re sleeping enough, eating right, and training appropriately, it’s time to learn smart injury prevention strategies that you can use within your workouts.

These are the same strategies Professor X uses with his team. Trust me, I called him to verify.

4 ways to actually prevent injuries

Stormtroopers

Repetitive stress injuries happen for a lot of reasons, but the most common are because of poor form, no progression, lack of strength, and no variety. And usually because of a combination of all four!

If you improve each one, your injury risk will plummet. While you won’t be as indestructible as Wolverine, you won’t get hurt nearly as much as the non-Rebel who doesn’t plan his workouts well.

1) Proper form is critical if you’re a weight lifter, cyclist, runner, or any athlete in between. The wrong movement repeated hundreds (or even thousands) of times is a serious injury in the making.

As a running coach, I see problems with running form all the time. And it transcends to other sports too. In the weight room I see people doing technical lifts with horrible form. Helloooo back injury!

Exercising correctly is admittedly the least sexy topic ever (almost ahead of taxes), but it’s foundational. It’s basic. It helps you do whatever exercise you love – running, lifting, Parkour – without problems. And hopefully, without injuries.

2) Progression is moving through every exercise at a level that’s appropriate for you.

Start at Level 1. Then level up to Level 2 when you’re ready. That’s progression at its finest. It’s one of the really effective ways I was able to go from chronically injured to healthy.

Improve your training gradually, consistently, and incrementally. It’s the smartest (and most often IGNORED) training principle that will help you stay healthy.  It’s why Steve started with just 10 push ups on his first day of PLP training.  It’s why you don’t start with a 20 mile run, but rather going for a walk.

And my suggestion is to always err on the side of doing too little than too much. I’d much rather you be 5% under-trained than hurt and unable to exercise at all.

3) Get strong! Like, really strong. Strength helps prevent injuries no matter what activity or sport you enjoy.

  • Parkour athletes won’t fatigue as quickly and will have the strength to avoid any clumsy falls or muscle strains.
  • Runners who lift weights are less likely to suffer an overuse injury.

If you haven’t started with strength exercises yet, yesterday is the best time. But today is fine, too! Always use good form while doing strength work and start with manageable workouts like bodyweight exercises.

That’s right, form and progression, again! All of these principles are related – once you implement them into every one of your workouts you’ll be far less likely to get injured.

4) Variety is the spice of life and it should be a big part of your exercise program, too. As a coach, I see runners making this running mistake all the time by doing the same distance, at the same pace, in the same shoes on the treadmill every day.

You might be making the same mistake as a weight lifter, doing the same exact workout in the gym every single week. No wonder you’re not improving!

Every subtle change you implement is a different stress that’s applied to your body. Exercises like squats have almost countless variations that help you gain strength and work your body in different ways.

Since repetitive stress injuries are by definition repetitive, variety is a way to reduce that repetition. Here’s a good example for the Rebels who like running: let’s say your knee hurts after a 5 mile run on a hilly route on the roads.

The next time you go running, wear a different pair of running shoes (to slightly alter your running form) on a flat 3 miler on a softer surface like a dirt path. That’s a totally different type of run than your hilly 5 miler on the roads.

You can do the same with any type of workout: vary the stress, reduce the repetition.

These strategies are so effective at injury prevention that I use them with my runners to help them stay healthy long-term (and myself, too – I’ve only been hurt once in the last five years!). It’s a much better approach than bad injury advice like “stretch more!” and “run intervals so you feel like you’re dying!”

Ouch.

What injuries do you struggle with?

TightRope

Let’s exercise a little smarter, recover a little better, and improve our healing factor just like my favorite X-Men: Wolverine.

With injury rates as high as they are, I’m sure you have a story about an injury you’ve experienced while leveling up your life.

Let us know in the comments so we can learn from each other.

And if you have any questions, leave them below and I’ll do my best to reply to each one!

-Jason

PS from Steve: We actually started planning this post months ago, and then my friend Brett from Art of Manliness ran a post about recovery and wolverine too.  It seems like great nerds think alike!  While this is merely a coincidence, both articles compliment each other nicely! 🙂

Jason Fitzgerald is a 2:39 marathoner and USA Track & Field certified running coach. Get more running advice at Strength Running – or sign up for two free presentationson injury prevention, mistakes we make, and how you can stay healthy like Wolverine!

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photo source: JD Hancock: Ill-gotten, Andrew Becraft: Medic Sigfig, momo: wolverine hug, Nathan Rupert: wolverine, Nicolo Paternoster: Tightrope

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  • Tara Windels

    My main injury issue right now is in my ankles, along the lines of peroneal subluxation. (Yes, both of them. Grr.) Unfortunately, I let it go too long, and now I’m down to doing absolutely nothing (other than physical therapy) that requires my ankles. However, I did graduate to being able to walk when needed without restrictions last week! Woot!

  • Kevin Malloy

    All my life I tried living as a hard-nosed, ignore the pain kind of guy until I dislocated my shoulder a few years ago. Now it’s so fragile after my torn labrum that a simple swat and my arm is out of socket. I got surgery on it but it only mildly helped. Been spending the last year and a half trying to strengthen it up. Kind of disheartening at times. I wish mine was just simply pain to push through.

  • EvillePanda

    I have two ongoing issues I deal with. I’ve got some tricky knees due to a couple of falls I had when I was younger. As long as I lift weights and do yoga, carefully, they’re not a problem. The other issue I deal with is a much older injury. I broke my arm when I was seven and it didn’t heal correctly because we couldn’t afford surgery. It acts up all the time. Push ups, downward dog, pretty much any exercise where the weight is on my arms are difficult. Some days are better than others. I love strength training, but my elbow betrays me.

  • Chris Spyres

    I’ve had back problems in the past mostly from poor lifting strategies at my job. However, since I’ve started doing more strength training I have not had the same sharp pains as I used to.

  • Kat Arkanian

    I have two injuries right now – my right wrist, from my profession drawing/painting all day, and I probably cranked it up too hard when I was doing yoga; my right shoulder/upper back (coincidence? perhaps), from archery this weekend when I was pulling a longbow that was maaayybe too strong for me. 😉 But it was a replica of Legolas’ and I HAD TO play with it! Even though I’m aching today. So much back/shoulder oww.

    I’ll take your advice, Jason, thanks. And I should probably keep putting on Salonpas patches and stretching today hahah

  • Chris Ryan

    I’ve had a hip problem for a number of years and only recently did anything about it. I don’t know how it came about but it was something that regularly hampered my training. During a run or after a good leg work out my right hip had a tendency to get quite sore and stiff and would remain that way without enough rest. I spent years working around it or through it but never fixing the problem and my fitness and drive suffered as a result.
    After finely going to a physio about it only 5 months ago I learned that my problem was a stability issue caused by all the smaller muscles in my right leg being weak which was made much worse by ignoring the problem making my muscles have to compensate and work in the wrong way to keep me going.
    My treatment is still ongoing. I have a monthly checkup at the physio and continue to do the exercises and stretches I was given. Simply the cure was to strengthen my neglected muscles and it’s working great. Morel of the story, If you have a recurring problem get on it as soon as possible and get it healed right instead of suffering for a long time. If I had listened to this basic advice instead of being stubborn I would most likely be in much better shape now and happier than ever since I would have avoided many discouraging injuries.

  • aaherron

    Been rocking the PLP but my wrist has disagreed with the whole thing. It’s fine one day and then hecka sore the next. I have been doing a barbell workout as well and then burpees intermittently so I’m assuming that it’s a overuse injury. How does one rest a wrist but still weight lift?

  • Rachel

    Last Spring, I decided to start training for a marathon for charity. About a month and a half from the run, I participated in a half-marathon that was supposed to be a training run. I found myself limping/walking through the last 6 miles of the race. My left leg just felt like it was going to crumble underneath me. I was stubborn and finished the race, but haven’t been able to run without pain since. I went to an orthopedic doctor where he took x-rays (came back normal) and received an injection shortly before the marathon to try to mask the pain long enough to complete the run. I made it 6 miles and decided it wasn’t worth risking further damage/strain. I jumped on a bike and finished the distance that way instead. I completed physical therapy, but still cannot run without pain. They (the doc and pt) said that my muscles on that leg were probably too weak or too tight and it was causing irritation at the insertion point of the IT band at my knee. I’ve rested and started lifting to gain strength. I also roll on a foam roller often. I need to change my diet and work on my flexibility, but I was curious if anyone else has ever experienced anything like this and how long it took to recover and get back to running?

    Thanks Nerds! 🙂
    Rachel

  • Marc

    I also deal with a shoulder that liked to pop out (about 10 times over three [2010-2012] years). I’ve just avoided traditional pullups and sleeping on that arm (those two things tended to be associated with a dislocation). I do shoulder presses and free weights instead to build up strength and avoid injury. Been about a year since any pain. Find what you can do to build it up without aggravating it, and work with a therapist if you need to to see where you need to work through some soreness to actually promote strength. Best of luck.

  • Kelly Lopez

    Rachel,
    My sister and I had the exact same thing that you are experiencing. We both think it was from taking our distance up too quickly. I was a 5K runner in Oct. went to Marathon level by June and paid the price with IT band syndrome. I was never one to stop when it hurts but that is crucial. Do all the IT band stretches and be very progressive in your approach to running races whatever the distance but especially 10K, half-marathon, marathon and anything longer. Awesome that you stopped when the pain was too much. We both think it is imperative to know the difference between pain and discomfort. With IT band especially please stop when it hurts. And seriously, as soon as it hurts stop. My sister and I both recovered in about 3 months and have since gone on to finish many races of all distances. The IT band will adjust with stretching. If you have the option, physical therapy would speed the process of healing. You will get back to running. My IT band was so bad I was so worried I would not return to running but I kept up my hope with all the research I did and kept it in my heart that IT band totally recovers if you carefully let it heal. Best wishes,
    Kelly Lopez
    I swam a lot to let my IT recover. At first it was so bad, I had to just let my legs drag through the water. I biked also when it did not hurt it to do so. Yoga would also be awesome for the
    IT.
    Kelly Lopez
    klopez@bak.rr.com

  • Kelly Lopez

    Chris,
    Awesome! I totally agree. I also had a hip injury and it was due to muscle instability. Muscle instability and then repetitive training as a runner was a recipe for disaster. Hip tightened up to the point I needed physical therapy for 5 months also. I also aggravated the main nerve that runs down the leg. The sciatic nerve! That was nothing to play with. Totally listen to your body, I agree. I didn’t and paid the price. When something hurts there is an underlying reason and it is usually referred to a different muscle instability then the actual muscle or joint that is hurting. Thanks for your great insight. Sincerely, Kelly Lopez

  • Rachel

    Thanks so much for the input, Kelly! I know I need to be more diligent about my stretching and strengthening. I’ve been trying to make it to the gym 3 times a week and my workout usually consists of 20-30 minutes on an ARC trainer or elyptical, then I stretch the legs, butt, hips, etc, lift, and then core work. I’ve still got the giant rubber bands from pt so, I’m going to get back to those exercises as well. I’m a swimmer to so, I may throw a day or two a week of swimming in the mix and see if that helps. I’ve been planning for quite some time to invest in a bike (just went perusing the local bike shop on Friday 🙂 ) because I would like to attempt a triathlon someday. I’ve not said it aloud to this point, but because this ordeal with my leg has gone on so long, I’ve been considering biking as a sort of back up to running since I’ve been really fearful that this discomfort I’ve been feeling may never subside. However, your story give me hope! Thanks so much for taking the time to respond. Really, thank you!

  • Timothy Martin

    hands free front squats, leg press, hyperextensions, crunches of all forms, zercher squats (so long as you don’t grab your hands), leg raises (including side for the glute min/med), some cable awkward cable work could be done so long as you ‘grip’ the cable in the crook of your elbow (front/lateral raises, pec fly, reverse fly maybe), calf raises, planks, there’s more but they start getting finicky after this lot

    oh, cardio work too, running and biking primarily

  • Kelly Lopez

    Rachael,

    If you don’t know exactly which muscles are under reactive find a trainer or physical therapist that can determine your weaknesses and get the exercises necessary to develop those muscles. I could share with you all the exercises I did to strengthen my imbalances but the best approach is truly to be evaluated and pinpoint were your specific imbalances are. Blessings, Kelly Lopez

  • VTSPE772

    My main injury has always been my low back. I have had surgery 3 times for herniated discs at L4-L5 (twice) and L5-S1 (once). Just getting back into working out, I would be sore all around my low back, but not the low back (my hips, shoulders mostly). I am pretty sure I was only getting sore, because I was NOT working out at all. After joining a big box gym, I began going to a lot of group classes where the focus was high reps and low-to-no weight. After about a month of getting the soreness worked out, I graduated myself to doing the squats, deadlifts, and bent-over rows on the free-weight side of the house! Granted still small weights, but getting the right form, and progressing slowly through the weights got me strong enough that I haven’t been sore (like before…achy) from a work-out in the last month.
    This was a great post, thanks for sharing! Looking forward to future guest posts!

  • Suzie Rhodes

    I’m more of a “do a few bodyweight exercises in a week” type of person, so my repetitive stress injuries aren’t from exercising. They’re from playing the violin. I’ve been struggling to avoid aggravating any tendonitis for a few months now, and your suggestions for avoiding injury are basically what I’ve been doing, just adjusted for violin instead of running or lifting. It’s hard to remember that violin is a physical activity and actually puts A LOT of stress on wrist tendons.

  • mgsakata

    Quadriceps tendinosis in the past and currently two partially torn rotator cuffs. Biggest advice to anyone is to properly warm-up before exercise with dynamic motions. Avoid static stretches before exercise. Increase weight gradually after or as part of the warm-up.

  • stuckerboyer

    I have a herniated disc at L4-L5 as well. Injury occurred back in September. My back pain is much better, but my main issue at this point is sciatica – intense nerve pain down my left leg and numbness/tingling in my left leg and foot. So far no surgery (really don’t want it), just PT, chiropractic adjustments and one epidural steroid injection.

    I actually started strength training using the Nerd Fitness body weight workout after the injury. I highly recommend it. Good to hear from someone struggling with something similar and still succeeding!

  • VTSPE772

    I was losing muscular control over my foot (constantly rolling ankles due to weakness, foot drop, etc.), so surgery was the only option to keep my walking. I still have numbness to this day (6 years post surgery, mainly a lack of sensation). But the muscular function is BACK!
    Good luck to you, and I hope you can make it through without the surgery!

  • Jennifer Chase

    My understanding is that biking is as irritating to the IT band as running is because the motion is similar. So you might want to investigate whether biking is a good idea for you personally while you’re dealing with this.
    I’m dealing with IT band pain right now, too, but not from running. I had stopped running or biking after developing knee tendonitis, and hadn’t done either in weeks when the IT band pain started.
    I think I’ve found a PT who can help (finally!). She was the first person to look at my hips and feet, and saw that my feet roll in when I am standing. I’ve learned taping my foot relieves the IT band pain completely (it really is a miracle), but the pain comes back quickly if I just walk around without the foot taped. And once the pain develops, *only* taping the foot again relieves it.
    The PT has me doing bridges, clams, and some yoga moves (e.g. the lotus) to strengthen the hip and glutes, and to teach them to activate in every day activities. I’m also doing foot exercises.
    I’ve been told rehab is something you do every single day – my routine takes about an hour. Things are getting stronger, but there’s still pain unless I tape the foot. It’s only been three weeks since I’ve been following the PT’s program (had been following a different routine), so I have some hope.
    If you can afford it, Active Release Therapy definitely helps the IT band. It was expensive for me, and the pain always came back. So I tried it for a few weeks and then decided I needed to continue looking for the underlying cause.
    I wish everyone dealing with this lots of patience! The time it takes to find the combination of treatments to really get rid of it can be quite discouraging.

  • Stacie

    I’ve had bicep tendonitis for about 6 years now from my college volleyball days. It gets “better” with rest but I’m not one to sit on the sidelines: I play on 2-3 recreational volleyball leagues in the fall and spring, and play sand volleyball in the summer. For a very long time, it was just something I “dealt with” and I played through the pain. I’ve also been primal/paleo to varying degrees over the last couple of years, but am just wrapping up my first Whole30 (very strict paleo for 30 days straight), and this is the BEST my arm has felt in years. Virtually little to no pain, and I have no doubt that this is the result from very clean eating for the last month.

    I know paleo won’t magically cure every injury ever, but it certainly makes the healing process faster/better, not to mention how much more you can gain from each workout.

  • Rachel

    Hi Jennifer! I, too, have read that cycling can irritate the IT band. I’ve ridden the stationary bikes at the gym and didn’t experience that same pain as I did while running. I’m not doctor or PT, but just the pounding of running is unbearable. Every now and again, I will feel some discomfort while on the ARC trainer, but otherwise it doesn’t bother me. My PT gave me many of the same workouts you mentioned. He evaluated my gate as well. The leg that is effected tends to turn inward as I push through my stride. Also, when I’m lying on my back, that leg wants to rotate inward at rest. He seemed to think that my hip sat incorrectly in the joint. He was working with me to strengthen my glutes to help to provide extra support. Admittedly, I got irritated with not being able to run like I used to, life got busier, and I got lazy about my exercises. Since getting back to the gym, I have received some relief, but there is still work to be done. I just can’t afford more PT time. 🙁
    I’m not sure if taping something would be of any benefit, but I’m glad you found relief. This injury is such a nag! I’ve always been an athlete and not being able to do something has really been kind of rough for me mentally.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to respond and share your experience! I really appreciate it!!

  • Grey

    I wouldn’t call it an injury per se, but I am double-jointed basically everywhere there’s a joint. Shoulders, wrists, knees, fingers/toes, elbows, hips, ankles, and even my jaw. This leads to odd complications sometimes when I’m doing any kind of physical activity, and I have to be very aware of the positions my joints are in when doing anything to avoid something slipping out of place. It’s not painful (usually), but it can render me unable to act, such as a shoulder getting stuck out of socket and not being able to apply pressure to a weight. I haven’t had this happen yet in a circumstance when it would be dangerous, but it has caused me to fall a few times when one (or both) of my knees slips out. It’s very awkward – my joints grind and stuff, and I’m always trying to be careful for fear of pushing something too far. Not really sure what to do about it, so I’ve always just put up with it.

  • Angela Coleman

    I enjoy both your sites! Jason, I use several of your strength and flexibility routines religiously. Other than some high hamstring irritation, I completed a 6 month training cycle and two halfs a month apart with no problem. Now I’m between training cycles and would love to see you write up an article about what to do with yourself until training starts again. I’ve been logging easy miles, focusing on strength, added in yoga, and indoor cycling for a cross training day. Thank you both!

  • oramac

    Great article! I’ve actually been having trouble with my knee. The weird thing is, it’s only my left knee, it’s only during squats, and even then, it’s only about 1/3 of the time.

    Say I have 3 workouts in a week. Two of them I could squat great with no pain. The 3rd my left knee hurts so bad I can barely finish one set. And I didn’t change my form or weight at all! And it’s ALWAYS my left knee. The right knee is perfectly fine. I’m baffled.

  • Charis

    I just got ACL replacement surgery two weeks ago. I swear I’ve gained 20lbs in two weeks from the lack of activity I can do. Have any suggestions for someone who can’t do much on her feet? I’m getting pretty desperate!!

  • Jeff Constatino

    I was on a run a few weeks ago and had to jump off the shoulder of the road to keep from being hit by a car (I was over as far as I could get and still be on the hardball) and rolled my left ankle. I just started using KT Tape on it so that I could start running again.

  • Jennifer Chase

    I’ve been told the IT band is particularly tricky – seems like a number of different things can be the cause (e.g. the difference between your pain’s source and mine).
    It’s fantastic that you can at least use the bikes at the gym! I feel for you about the mental cost of ongoing injuries. I guess the fact that we both get Nerd Fitness emails means neither of us have given up yet; I think that’s pretty cool 🙂
    Hang in there!

  • Rachel

    Definitely not giving up! I love being active and taking on new challenges! I had to kind of grieve a bit after getting hurt and not being able to complete the marathon, but I’m ready to get back at it. Whether it be running, biking, swimming, etc…I’ll be happy to just do something. Take care, Jennifer!

    PS- Did my pt exercises last night…road to a full recovery begins here. 🙂

  • Susan

    Popliteus, doing squats, thank you very much. 🙁

  • yourtoastisburnt

    I have an obnoxious tennis injury that I’ve had for the last 6 or 7 years. I have a tendon in my right shoulder that pops every time I roll my shoulder, which is hell when you’re doing barbell back squats. Can’t get it to go away 🙁 I also have a knee injury that I’ve been doing PT for. It’s been going really well though. She’s been having me balance out my muscles to avoid injury and I feel stronger and much more stable! It’s great having a PT who understands that strength = injury prevention.

  • moo

    I have an injury on my foot from running too much, too soon, in a pair New Balance Minimus shoes. 🙁 It’s not too bad, but I feel pain on it from time to time when I walk and/or run. Nowadays, I don’t run much anymore (I do other types of exercise), but I wish the injury would actually go away.

  • Trent

    Jason’s site is an awesome resource for runners! I’ve run injury free for over a year now from following his advice. The changing shoe thing is right on. I’ve noticed since wearing a pair of Vibrams a couple times a week that my legs are stronger and I feel less tired on long runs in less minimal shoes.

  • wahoowa

    I hurt my shoulder a year ago doing snatches. Had an MRI that found nothing but that doc is full of you know what. To this day it still hurts even to do bench presses. Snatches suck. ‘Nuff said. LOL.

  • Bee

    Hi, maybe you’re also suffering from Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (or runner’s knee in general). I have the same issue too. Got it from overusing my right knee playing badminton, running, hiking, doing crossfit and yoga. My orthopedic said it’s when my outer thigh muscle is stronger than the inner thigh, it pulls up the patella (kneecap) to the outer part/right part instead of straight up. This causes the pain.

    I used to be able to run 10km straight, but now on my 3rd km I’m already suffering really bad knee pain.

    Do you also struggle when going down the stairs? Or when you’re sitting too long then you suddenly stand up and walk, you get sharp pains? If yes, then yeah..PFPS 🙁

    One way to avoid it is to do thigh strengthening workouts like squeezing a tennis ball in between your legs for 5 sets of 20 reps.

    Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Anthony

    I used to do a crazy amount of upper body training every day, 5-6 days a week with only a break at the end of the week (avg. 60+ pull-ups and lotsa ring dips). I had pretty satisfactory muscle gains and eventually went to flagging among other things. Unfortunately, my left elbow couldn’t keep up with my increasingly intense training and one day, BAM couldn’t do a normal pull-up without having an intense spike of agony inflame my elbow. Tendonitis of the elbow (tennis-elbow). Out for 6 weeks. Came back feeling like a shrivelled dumpling without all that good filling. Getting back into training now but progress feels damn slow and returning to my peak is hindered by study and time. It’s an absolute soul crusher when you think about how quick it is to fall from your pedestal of progress.

  • Thumper

    Hello, I am knwn as the injury ing and the old man of the group. I am surprised I have nt broken yet. Currently, I am dealing with tennis elbow in both arms that came from weight lifting and being weak along with a sudden jump in exercise program. A week or 2 ago I could not do walll push ups without pain. I did 10 negative push ups the other day just to test. Also, I just developed tendinitis or tendinosus in both achilles. It affects me more n my left one and I have the burning sensation that you speak of. I believe I developed it when I played basetball about 3 times a week along with my usual weight training and possibly improper shes. My shoes are a size t big sine I have a wide foot. I have also read into heel drop height and have read information about letting it heal while its stretched.. On top of that I am a college student s I don’t get enough sleep. Although I have been over my calorie goal I am pretty solid with my nutrition meeting all macro and micro nutrients. I purchased a tennis elbow program, I am strengthening.

    Aside from that I have recovered from nagging shoulder injury, rotator cuff injury, IT band syndrome, torn cartilage in chest, nagging lower back pain,hamstring strain or impingement(burning), and finally a pressure point in the teres minor area. Suprised I have not broken yet.

  • http://thechickenscoop.net/ Angela-Chicken Scoop

    I have a mysterious foot pain that acts up seemingly randomly (I think it has to do with the wrong combination of activity and shoe structure). I’ve been to see a doctor about it before and was just told to RICE until it was better. That was about 8 months ago and I still have problems occasionally. I’ve also tried strengthening my foot muscles with exercises but still minimal relief. Time to see a specialist!

  • http://www.ptinto.com Eric Astrauskas

    This is a very good list of recovery and injury prevention tips. I just discovered this site and enjoy the scientific information and like the subtle humour in the posts (which is lacking in other blogs). As a fitness professional with a degree in exercise science, I would like to add a few tips to avoid injuries.
    1. Proper breathing techniques and using your core for lifts (especially powerlifting) to prevent back injuries.
    2. Warm-ups and joint mobility exercises prior to strength training to help prevent muscle strains.
    3. Building up rotator cuff strength to help prevent shoulder injuries. So many people do not work on shoulder rotation exercises. This is especially important for racket sports athletes and throwing sport athletes. Having strong rotator cuffs will also help prevent injuries while doing presses exercises.
    4. Static stretching after workouts. This becomes even more important if you are an office worker, as sitting for long periods causes tight fascia and muscles to be in a rigor mortis like state.

  • themiki

    You should get yourself checked for Ehler’s Danlos. That’s what I have, and my symptoms are very similar to yours. My dislocations actually do hurt quite a bit, but my joints bend way beyond a normal point before any pain kicks in.

  • Tybxrn

    I do San Shou Kung Fu, and seriously think lots of my wrist and left leg pain are comming from the three T’s. I guess I will switch it up today, thanks for the post!

  • https://www.gripped.com.au/ David

    I have always had knee problems like pain and all but after doc. advice i have lessend the weight & have started using gripped Knee wraps & Compression socks.Those are really fantastic & makes you comfortable.

  • Dylan Deo

    I JUST WANT BADASSARY

  • Christie

    Why free weights and not machines?

  • Gustavo César

    I have injury in my 2 knees, 2 elbows, 2 shoulders and in my Wrist

  • George

    I am not an expert by any means, but I believe its because machines restrict your natural body movement. The human body has over 600 muscles along the skeletal structure. When you restrict your movement with machines, those muscles get neglected.

    However, when you are lifting a dumbbell or barbell your body must balance. Its that balancing act that allows you to train those skeletal muscles. This gives your body better balance and prevents injury.

  • Chuck

    I was a beast in my 20’s… At 27 I was POWERLIFTING – 5’11 230 with abs!!!
    Got caught up with some asshole who got me hooked on vicoden for after workout pain.
    went to 6 month rehab, came back & jumped in like I never missed a day!! BIG MISTAKE!!! Tried to immediately bench 450-500lb that I was doing prior.
    Completely tore my right pectoral!!!! BACK ON PAIN KILLERS!!!
    from there it went down hill..
    Ended up in prison for 9 months which was a good thing, I got clean & healthy.
    But I’ve never been able to recover fully because my body is not riddled with pain.
    Had rotator cuff surgery 2 yrs ago NO PILLS!!! LOL
    KNEES HURT, BACK HURTS, ELBOW TENDINITIS, Hips pop, & PLANTER FACIATIS.. Lol I’m a wreck..I feel like a scarred up old warrior..
    I push through the pain with advil..
    I keep training mostly for high reps..
    i must say, I put myself on Testosterone Cypionate 250mgs injection 1x week which is a baby dose but it did help my pain, energy, etc..
    it sucks getting older!!!
    but we’re men, & I’m a Marine so I overcome!!
    Semper Fi…

  • daniel gray

    Try adding tai chi and qi gong exercises into your training. These exercises will help you recover faster than anything you could ever imagine…but you still need rest, proper diet and hydration. I’ve found that it has literally cured me of every type of stress I face in life from mental to physical to emotional.