It’s every fitness professionals worst nightmare but it happens – we’re training someone, things are going well and then, without warning, an injury occurs.
We all know to apply first aid and fill out an incident report, but what happens after you both go home?
Chances are you’ll be feeling stressed out, upset and maybe even guilty. It’s important to deal with your feelings in a self-compassionate way. A helpful tool can be to talk to a friend or mentor in the industry about what happened – chances are, they’ve been there before and can empathise and offer advice. Try to remember that sometimes, despite your best effort, care and attention, things go wrong; aim to be gentle with yourself.
Once you’re feeling calmer, re-evaluate your training program – was there something you rushed into too soon, or was it just a random event? Will you need to return to building a stronger foundation before attempting a similar movement again? Could you allow more recovery time or reduce reps to help with form? Does it seem like there might be an underlying issue that might need referral to an allied health professional? What can you learn from this to avoid a similar incident happening again? Again, a mentor or colleague can offer another perspective.
Check in with your client the next day – how is the injury progressing? Do they have an allied health professional they prefer to see or would they like a recommendation? Encourage them to have the injury assessed and use this opportunity to liaise with the treating allied health professional. Enquire about possible contraindications for injury management and any additional exercises they would like you to include going forward.
Remember, in some situations complete rest is warranted. Depending on the site and nature of the injury, there may still be plenty of ways for your client to keep active through the recovery process. In consultation with their allied health professional, develop creative workouts that allow them to continue exercising so they don’t lose heart.
Some ideas are seated boxing if they have a leg injury, working on mobility or pelvic floor activation, or strengthening unaffected areas of the body. With the right programming, time won’t be wasted as they will return from injury with a new skillset or increased strength in a different area. Your rehabilitation program, in conjunction with treatment from their allied health professional, will likely leave them less susceptible to future injuries.
Clients can and do bounce back from injuries. It’s up to us to encourage them to use an unfortunate event as an opportunity to come back even stronger. For us, we can use it as a chance to upskill, brush up on our knowledge, and build strong relationships with allied health professionals. The best part is that both parties can develop resilience in the face of adversity.
Article written by Shelley Lask, AFA Ambassador and owner of Body Positive Health & Fitness