Overcoming Injuries: The Thin Line Between Elite Performance and Setbacks

Lessons Learned Dealing with Injury

“Injury in general teaches you to apprecaite every moment. I’ve had my share of injuries throughout my career. It’s humbling. It gives you perspective. No matter how many times I’ve been hurt, I’ve learned from that injury and come back even more humble.”

– Troy Polamalu

If you train at a high level for long enough, there are times when you will be hurt; the line that separates elite performance and injury is razor thin.  

When we are pushing limits, we are constantly flirting with injury.

But there are also daily actions we can prioritize to limit the likelihood of injury. 

Today’s article shares my tips on injury prevention and what I have learned by dealing with severe injuries.

My Darkest Days

Think back to the leat time you were sick, all you wanted to do was feel better. 

The same is true with the last time you were hurt. One day you are dreading getting out of bed for an early morning training session, and then snap. 

Your health, your season, and all your training gets stripped away in an instant.

Injury always forces us to gain perspective, fast. No matter how hard we try, we never know how lucky we are until something gets taken away. 

During a training ride for the 2014 Kona Ironman World Championships, I crashed hard on wet asphalt and was immediately taken by ambulance to the emergency room. Dr.’s worked to re-attach what was left, but to this day I can barely move my right ring finger. 

This was the beginning of one of the most painful periods in my life. I had set a goal to compete at Kona and I was committed to doing everything in my power to get to the competition. This included racing in the Lake Placid Ironman three weeks later as my hand was still recovering.

I was unable to swim in the weeks leading up to the competition because it was too painful. On the morning of the race, I struggled to zip my wetsuit up, let alone get in the water. Somehow I made it to the bike, which turned into the scariest ride of my life. By this point my hand had swollen up so much that  I could only grip the aero bars with my thumb and my index finger. It poured rain that year and I was riding along at 60+ MPH, just hoping that I didn’t crash again. 

In the days after the race, my hand became so infected from swimming in the lake that I was rushed into an emergency surgery. Then I began a three month recovery process when I was supposed to be focusing entirely on training for the biggest race of my life. 

This was one of the hardest periods of my life. 

Pre-Hab > Rehab

Injuries are a part of sport and sometimes freak accidents occur. But I have also learned from first hand experience that that you can influence the likelihood of injury. As your training volume increases, so does the likelihood of injury. 

My biggest piece of advice for preventing injury: listen to your body. 

Your body is an incredible machine and before major injuries it will begin to give you warning signs. The key is listening to these warning bells in real time.

*This holds true for major injuries outside of freak accidents like my bike crash, which are out of your control. 

Sometimes we have to be willing to check our egos at the door; there will be times when you have training sessions programmed that you shouldn’t complete, when your back is tweaked, or you can’t get your knee to loosen up. 

This is your bodies way of telling you that you need a break. Listen to it. Have confidence to give yourself the rest you need. 

By giving yourself one day here, you will be able to stay healthy and will be better off in the long run. 

The most efficient way to heal an injury is to prevent it from occurring in the first place and this why I make recovery a priority in my daily routine. 

My go to recovery protocol is as follows: 

  • 3 rounds consisting of 20 minutes in the SISU Barrel Sauna at +200’F followed by 5 minutes in the Ice Barrel at 37’F.  

  • 15-20 min red light therapy session with my Kineon Labs Move+ 

  • weekly chiropractic adjustments 

  • bi-weekly deep tissue massages *these are as much for mental relaxation as they are for the physical benefits

  • dry needling/ acupuncture as needed to increase blood flow and help with muscle tightness

  • At least 64 ounces of water with electrolytes from 5:00- 7:00 pm

I am not perfect with this routine everyday; sometimes life happens. But I do make it a priority to take care of my body and as a result I have been able avoid many major injuries.

Today’s Optimization

Since my Ironman years, I have been training 2-4 hours a day 6-7 days a week. With this much volume, muscle tweaks and strains are a constant issue. One of the most impactful additions to my recovery has been the Move+ by Kineon Labs. It has helped me recover faster from pain that used to take me out of the gym for days or weeks.

I researched these red light devices heavily and had several friends in their thirties, forties, and fifties who had been recommending Move+ by Kineon Labs to me. Over the past year since I started using it, I have noticed that I have been able to immediately address slight tweaks and minor injuries that result from training. I keep a Move+ in my car and at my desk that I can multitask and make the most efficient use of my time. When I am driving to the gym or sitting on a call, I will put the device to get a 20 minute prehab/rehab session in during the day. Today Kineon Labs is offering Movement Memo subscribers a deal: 10% off using code “EHINMAN”

P.S. Kineon Labs just opened a round of crowdfunding, so if you’re interested in the holistic recovery space, right now you have the ability to invest. Click here for more information.

Today’s Movement

Death By Ski: Starting at 15 calories, complete each round in 60 seconds followed by a 60 second rest. Add one calorie every round until failure:

  • 18 cal, 1 minute recovery
  • 19 cal, 1 minute recovery
  • 20 cal, 1 minute recovery
  • 21 cal, 1 minute recovery
  • Continue to add one cal each round until failure

About Eric Hinman

Based in Denver, Eric is an Endurance Athlete (5x Ironman), content creator and social media influencer, sponsored by dozens of consumer brands. Some of Eric’s partners include Vital Proteins, GNC, Ten Thousand, Beam, Lane Eight, Chipotle, and Whole Foods.

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