A chronic injury is a persistent muscular injury that is often resistant to medical treatment. It may be a constant problem, or simply inflame and subside regularly. Many people have these, especially those who don’t have the privilege or bank balance to secure private medical insurance or are refused due to the ‘pre-existing’ condition. Common chronic injuries include dislocations, lower back pain, hip and knee problems, and abdominal discomfort. Chronic pain or discomfort is also common from an injury, trauma or illness and may develop over time.

Within Team LDNM a few of us are unlucky enough to have chronic injuries; namely Tom, Richie Brew and myself. In this article we will detail our injuries, treatment and advice given to us from medical professionals, and how we make sustainable progress alongside our injuries, in the safest way possible.

Please don’t take this as us telling you to train through or around pain and injuries. If you get an injury (or unexplained pain/discomfort) we recommend rest and seeing a doctor, specialist and or physio ASAP, and abiding by their advice. This article is simply detailing our experience of making aesthetic progress with longstanding issues.

If you do get injured please cease training and seek medical advice from your GP or local specialist before resuming training.

 

Name: Max Bridger

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Age: 23

Injury: chronic right testicle pain, umbilical discomfort (hernia), undiagnosed prevalent groin pain (possible ‘gilmore’s groin’), weak hip flexors/groin.

How and When You Were Injured:

From year 7-11 I was completing around 2-5 hours of sport a day, and doing around 400 sit ups a night, along with some press ups and bicep curls (#KingBro) before bed. I injured my hip flexor in year 8 and from then on it has never really recovered. This was probably because I rested for the minimum time allowed and went straight back into very high activity, and just accepted an aching groin and hip flexors as part of football and sport.

I was playing semi-pro football at 16 when my groin and hip flexor seemed to finally give up. I effectively had to stop sport and took up resistance training. From here I avoided sport and frequent direct abdominal work until university, where every time I tried a sport my groin, hip flexor and testicle pain would flare up and eventually forced me to stop American Football and Rugby League. 60 minutes of football a week was manageable- but even then my mobility was limited, and pain expected afterwards.

Medical Treatment and Advice:

Up until only recently the medical advice has been to rest, even one doctor telling me I just have to live with the pain, take prescription pain killers, paracetomol and ibruprofen indefinitely- and to avoid sport or exercises that aggravate my pain altogether. Great advice to give to a keen sportsmen (when anything active affects me), personal trainer and co-founder of a natural bodybuilding and fitness company, extremely helpful!

I’ve had multiple ultrasounds and am due to have an MRI-scan (that I will probably have to pay for myself). Unfortunately the NHS ‘lost my files’ so when I had finally got through to a stage of seeing another specialist and getting a scan I was turned away, and told to start the whole process by seeing my GP again. I will be going private I can afford to do so for further scans and treatment, being referred by my GP.

Tip: ask for a different GP at your local doctors. I did after getting basically ‘fobbed off’ by the same doctor(s) multiple times and am finally making some headway with this constant, but yet to be identified ache in my testis/groin/abdomen.

 

How Do You Train Differently Because of this?

  • I have stopped playing competitive football, reducing this to 1-2 weekly recreational sessions for 50 minutes- changing my game to be less explosive. Some say similar to a cross between Messi and Titus Bramble.
  • Tennis and skiing are pain dependent.
  • I don’t regularly complete deadlifts, straight leg deadlifts, direct ab work, heavy squats or ever do true one rep max efforts. Bent over row, overhead and standing push down style exercises are also used sparingly. This puts undue strain through my groin and aggravates the constant ache I have in my groin and man bits. This reduces the amount of exercises I can do, and increases my usage of machines over some free weight exercises.
  • Emphasis on technique and tempo to control the weight, and isolate the muscles I am using rather than allow for body momentum or intermittent core muscle strain. This applies to strength training also.
  • I use speed and power work rarely if at all, and with caution- again concentrating on form and tempo- and avoid true 1-4 rep max work.
  • Take rest when necessary. Sometimes the pain isn’t worth training around/through and potentially aggravating. This can be purely rest from leg sessions, or rest altogether from training for a few days to a week.
  • Common usage of seated, machine or exercises adapted so I don’t activate the abdominals or aggravate the pain, over traditional big compound lifts and free weights.
  • Supplement with anti-inflammatories, pain killers, omega 3 and green tea when in a lot of pain- as well as icing the area (not fun at all!).
  • Utilise a groin/abdomen support with activity.

Ultimately all my pain or weaknesses are originating from a groin/abdominal wall problem that has yet to be diagnose. It is increasingly limiting me but when you’ve been told to rest, abided by it, and the pain has just returned there becomes a point where you adapt.

If you have a similar problem go to see a doctor and press your case as hernias can be very dangerous- as can aching or aggravated man parts! It is better to be safe than sorry.

The above is just describing what I do to make progress around my specific chronic injury. If you have a similar problem or would like to discuss the above please feel free to tweet me @MB_LDNM or @LDN_Muscle but please seek medical advice first and foremost.

 

 

Name: Tom Exton

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Age: 27

Injury: Prolapsed Disc at L5

How and When You Were Injured:

Been affected by this for roughly 5-6 years now with varying levels of inconvenience and discomfort. Initial cause unknown, but I used to be heavily into bikes & had a few falls in my teenage years. Only possible cause I can think of.

Medical Treatment and Advice:

Having been to numerous physios and osteopaths over the years, with various theories and ‘treatments’ – including one telling me I had torn my hamstring (!) – it was finally shown in an MRI that I had a prolapsed disc at L5 a couple of years ago.

In terms of treatment, the only thing I have found to offer any relief, is physio doing deep tissue work around the knotted spasms surrounding L5, with a large portion of teeth gritting, swearing, pain killers and prescription anti inflammatories. Also heat packs I have found useful.

 

How Do You Train Differently Because of this?

It’s a common problem, and everyone is affected by it differently, but I get stabbing pain down the back of my left leg, left glute, and around my left knee. I also experience localised pain around L5 in my lower back. It flares up occasionally and sometimes means I have difficulty walking, but most of the time it’s an annoying pain that pervades almost everything I do. A pain in the arse, literally.

  • I need to be careful lifting weights around between sets and setting up equipment, it’s common to let your form slip a bit when shifting kit about in the gym – so I am extra careful. A recent twinge put me out of action for nearly a week, while moving an EZ bar for skull crushers. Not much fun.
  • Heavy deadlifts & heavy squats are firmly off the menu sadly. I am paranoid about my back and maintaining perfect, comfortable form. Max lifts are a no. I tend to do more volume work, supersets etc on squats, deadlifts I avoid for the time being. If I do venture heavier, I will wear a weight belt, when lighter weights I don’t.
  • Running is something I can do, but I don’t tend to do it often now. I used to be heavily into my triathlon and long distance running as a kid/teenager. These days I find my back can be riled up easily by it.

None of the above things are a definitive answer if you’ve got a similar issue to myself, however just things I’ve experienced and find to help. If you suspect you’ve got an issue with a disc or your back in general, always seek specialist advice immediately – spines are not to be ignored and taken lightly, they can cause life-long problems and put you out of action for a long time.

Remember, if not content with a diagnosis, you can always seek advice from someone else. Further, regarding training specifics – always worth speaking to a sports injury specialist as opposed to a GP. Again, this is based on personal experience – not taking anything away from our wonderful GP’s!

As with everything, you can always drop us a Tweet at @LDN_Muscle – or me personally at @TGE_LDNM

 

 

Name: Richie Brew (@RichieBrewLDNM)

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Age: 29

Injury: dislocated kneecap/patella, torn medial ligament, torn cartilage, pulled anterior cruciate ligament.

How and When You Were Injured:

Aged 22, during my final and stressful last year at University, I was playing regular football for my university team. However, by this time, my gym commitments and putting on serious mass had taken over my interest in the majority of sports (I was playing basketball and boxing on the side along with football though). At this point I was hovering around/over the 16 stone mark, and due to this (and pretty much being too heavy for my frame and having one side of my quads overdeveloped due to poor training technique), while warming up for the University teams cup final, I fully dislocated my knee, laterally, which caused a minor tear to my medial ligament, tore my cartilage and pulled my cruciate ligament in one swoop. The pain at the time wasn’t actually that bad as adrenaline kicked in and as I panicked, I actually relocated (think that is the term) the knee joint myself, iced it while the game went on, strapped it up heavily, got some crutches and went out for the celebrations with the team. The following day, the swelling was so bad around the joint it was actually wider than a rugby ball. But, as I was finishing my dissertation that week and it needed to be completed, I didn’t actually go to the hospital until it was handed in. that’s when the reality of the injury struck.

Medical Treatment and Advice:

After the diagnosis, x-rays, MRI scans etc, the incompetent NHS staff actually said they couldn’t see any cartilage damage and the tear to the medial ligament would repair itself as would the pulls to the other ligaments with intense physio, after rest and draining the fluid that was constantly on the knee. This turned out to be a misdiagnosis and I ended up going 2 years without being able to do anything over a quick walk, let alone run or squats. The (pretty severe) cartilage tear was then found by those idiots, where, when my knee bent; loose cartilage was actually visible through the skin in my knee, causing damage through the joint where it caused further wear/stress. I have now had 3 knee operations to fix the issues, and it’s safe to say, it’s still not right and I have just had a further diagnosis of potential arthritis on the joint, which may need to be removed. With that and having no cartilage in my knee now, the thing makes the most horrendous noises when I work my lower body.

 

How Do You Train Differently Because of this?

  • I have stopped playing competitive sport, totally.
  • I don’t do really heavy squats /one rep max efforts. Also, my legs took a massive hit in regards to size during this period of inactivity, but, I can’t go anywhere as hard as I would like to. I have to regulate volume, weight and how often I work my legs…I am only now experimenting with 2x’s a week lower body workouts, which, I can’t do regularly as my knee joint can suffer.
  • Emphasis on technique and tempo to control, I have poor hip flexibility and glute activation too, which always keeps me honest with technique on lower body, and ensures I warm up properly and use a foam roller.
  • Used bike sprints as a low impact method to try to build my quads.
  • Take rest when necessary. Last year, I had to take 4 weeks off as the strain on a joint with no cartilage is no joke!
  • Supplement on fish oil and glucosamine every day.
  • Ice if I can after every leg workout

 

Summary:

In essence what we feel you should take away from this article is that training with longevity in mind is most important for regular, but dedicated gym-goers such as you and us. This applies to flexibility, warming up, practicing proper form and tempo, and generally looking after your body through preparation, nutrition and smart/safe training decisions.

Don’t feel you absolutely have to do a certain exercise(s) in order to make progress; for instance people say you absolutely must squat (heavy and deep) to make any decent leg gains- but is this more beneficial if back-squatting will simply lead to more time out, when compared to utilising alternative exercises, lifting protocols or even isolation machines if necessary with periodised rep ranges? When exercises have a high risk factor, intensified by a pre-existing condition, proceed with caution when it is wise to do so, but don’t feel bad if you must find an alternative or rest from training altogether on occasions.

With all that being said don’t simply accept that you will live with your injury/condition- utilise your GP and do what you can to ease your condition or prevent it being aggravated and or relapsing.

 

As we have said we are NOT medical experts, nor do we purport to be. In no way is any of the information above advice, nor is it intended to be. Nothing should be taken as an alternative to professional advice and this merely a reflection of our personal experiences. We wish you all the best with your recovery.