First off, a tiny bit of butt-cover. I am not now, never have, and never will claim to be anything close to a person who can give anyone any useful advice about rehab, PT, any of that stuff. The most I'll tell anyone for the record is "Buy a foam roller (or PVC, if you're like me and effeduproyal) and a lacrosse ball, and here's a bunch of youtube vids that'll show you what to do with 'em". If you happen to sprain, strain, or tear something, the best advice is get it checked out ASAP. This is something I did NOT do, not because I'm "hardcore", not because I was broke, not for any good reason, I just didn't know better. I definitely should've at least gotten an evaluation from some reputable medical professional so if nothing else, I would've had a baseline for how injured I was.
I AM going to go on record and say that when it does happen (and it WILL happen), you need to take advice on recovery from someone who understands where you're coming from, which for the practicing Devlifter means: Not your regular GP guy. Find a good sports therapist, competition trainer, someone who has experience dealing with people who train outside the realm of the general populace, because otherwise you just run the risk of getting some yahoo who's going to tell you to go get surgery and you'll never have full use of whatever you injured again. In some cases, that may be true, but me, I'd rather hear it from someone who can really look at everything in proper context. I dunno, on some level, I feel really bad writing this because it just reeks of me giving people misinformation, so let's also butt-cover this by saying, this is just MY experience and it's kinda worked for ME. You really need to figure out what's going to work for you and don't be quite as negligent as i was. However, if you insist on being ridiculous, like me (don't do that, seriously, don't ever be like me), here are some things that MIGHT POSSIBLY point you somewhere in the vicinity of where you want to go.
Until we can heal like this, it helps to have a plan
Long story short, about 3 weeks ago in kickboxing class, I landed a flying knee wrong and jacked up my support leg. See, it's even a lame story, I wish I could be all, "Yeah man, i threw that flying knee and he blocked with his elbow and tore my sh** up," but no...it was pretty much all my fault. The best (worst) part was I didn't even do it during a drill, I was just practicing the technique BEFORE we started drilling...which meant I didn't really even get a chance to drill the movement. That's embarrasing man, that's like walking out on the floor to do your forms or something, tripping in front of the judges, and hurting yourself bad enough that you can't compete. Anyway, whining aside, it was bad enough that I figured I probably shouldn't stay for the second class, but not bad enough that I couldn't finish the class I was in, and definitely not bad enough that I couldn't put some weight on it. For those reasons I figured it was minor enough that I could take care of it myself and be ok as long as I didn't do anything stupid. A few weeks of ice, stretching, and foam rolling, and I'd be alright.
Problem: I hate icing. Actually, I hate anything that makes me feel slow or movement impeded, which is why I don't get drunk very often anymore and one of the main reasons I stopped doing...erm, other things that may be legal now. I've done the whole RICE thing in the past, and I wasn't really looking forward to doing it again, but you know, as I've gotten older and gained something like the ability to look a bit further down the road and realize what's actually important, I'm ok doing what has to be done to get where I want to go. BUT I STILL HATE ICING. Thankfully, I've somehow managed to find myself in the company of many people who are much more intelligent about many things than I am. Take for instance, my good friend Brad Clark of Rigging Dojo fame, who happened to drop the following knowledge bombs on me just as I was about to embark down that treacherous path:
Wait so, I could NOT do the thing I hate (even though it's burned into the gospel of recovery) and still recover? Well, alllllright. It's funny, because Erica, she of Stuff I Make My Husband fame, had mentioned Mobility|WOD to me a while back and the do have some crazy knowledge bombs. I definitely recommend checking out the following videos, and while they are a bit preachy and marketing-y (I think one of the guys is trying to sell people some machine or implement), there's a decent bit of underlying knowledge here that may change your view on things. Again, I don't have any sort of certification for therapy, so no one get all butt hurt because you've been recommending RICE to everyone and now they have an alternate viewpoint (heaven forbid). Just write it off by saying what I just said, i.e. I have no credentials, just personal experience.
I think the universe sorta wanted me to go down this path anyway, as T Nation posted another great article that basically amounts to Compression Wrapping 101, along with some more awesome videos that you should absolutely add to your recovery arsenal. This came out about a week and a half after I started down the recovery path so I didn't make as much use of it as I'd like to, but I'm definitely starting to think about ways to use it as a supplement to foam rolling for general well being.
To make matters even better (but wait, theeerrrre's more!!), I found this other article on EliteFTS that kinda sums up this whole blog post much more succinctly and informatively than...this blog post.
Coach Scott Abel talks alot about biofeedback and being able to read your own body, and that's probably been the most useful tool in this whole process for me. If I go back to the day I injured myself and think about how I was feeling, yeah, my legs were SUPER tight, I mean it really was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, or in this case, the load that sprained the knee, I mean my legs were uncomfortably tight, and not just because of my Kaju pants. Knowing that, I pieced together a recovery program that addresses everything based on what I remember feeling:
- First, I started just WALKING again, and this was a super eye-opening thing for me because the first couple days I did it, it felt awkward. Imagine that, walking feeling weird! That right there should tell you that there's a basic mobility issue.
- I've gotten back to taking mobility and flexibility seriously. I'm performing hour long mobility/flexibility sessions every morning, upper body some days, lower body other days, but both with the goal of just being able to move around again. I want the kind of mobility I had when I was doing Capoeira, and you know, we used to stretch and do basic movement exercises for about an hour before we started drilling techniques. This has actually been huge, not just for the gains I'm already feeling, but just because doing it in the morning makes me feel GREAT for the day.
- Had to make some little tweaks to my lifting program, but I don't feel like it's been anything crazy detrimental. The most "extreme" change I've made is moving squatting to the end of the week so I've got a full weeks worth of mobility work stacked up before I go in. I've dropped my numbers back too, for example, this week my working max was 235, which at a normal tear I probably would've hit for 10-12, but I kept it at 5, just to be safe. It's a marathon, not a sprint, and even though I do want to do some meets next year, keeping the legs right for Kajukenbo is priority.
- Lastly, NO MORE SKIPPING PVC ROLLING EVER. Sure, I'm doing it every morning, but I'm also doing it before every lifting session now, even if it's just 10 or 20 passes over the IT band and adds. When I take a step back and think about it, I'm putting some serious demands on my legs! Kickboxing, Silat, squatting, deadlifting, that's alot to ask without giving some TLC back. So, I'm sorry legs, thanks for reminding me I was being a jerk, it won't happen again (if only I could fix my relationships that easily...another story)
To wrap it up, look, I'm not going to say don't ever ice again, that's up to you and whoever you're working with. What I am saying is that this time, I didn't ice and I've recovered faster than I did from smaller injuries that I have iced. I'm not going to run out and hurt myself again just to see if I can quantify things a bit better, but yeah, I think i'm pretty sold on mobility, flexibility, and compression. I'll post up the specifics of my mobility splits here in a bit, I'm still fine tuning. I hope these resources end up being helpful, if for no other reason than they make you think about stuff.  Train Hard So Real Life Is Easy.
Seriously, this is how icing my joints makes me feel...