I was two weeks into my 12-week transformation when I pulled my quad. I had gone to the track to do sprints and, oddly enough, pulled it during a warm-up run (about half speed). It was one of those injuries that you knew immediately, and you think to yourself, "this day is fucked now." I took a minute to rest, tried to shake it out. I even foam rolled it. But every step I took I could feel a little tenderness, and after a few minutes, I had to give in. I knew it was going to be at least two weeks before I could sprint again.
So I hopped on an exercise bike instead.
And that's the biggest piece of advice I can give regarding injuries. Your success depends entirely on how you handle them. Unless you blow out your back or dislocate something, lose a limb to a bomb's shrapnel or drop a weight on your foot, there really are very few injuries you can sustain while training that should stop you dead in your tracks. Hope dies last.
The three steps to overcoming any injury
1. Stop doing whatever you just hurt yourself with. This seems obvious but too many of us press on (sometimes literally). If it's hurt and you know it, you're screwed. Just accept it and stop that specific activity.
2. As strength coach Jim Wendler (elitefts.com) likes to say, "Train what is trainable." If you can't bench with a barbell, use dumbbells. If one handle for triceps extensions hurts your elbows, switch to a different one. The important thing is not to drop the workout altogether, unless you're so messed up that continuing risks hurting something else.
3. Get ART done on the injured area. I can't recommend this highly enough. Athletes and lifters who see physical therapists who practice Active Release Technique are downright spoiled--they get used to doing stupid things in training and having their doctor bail them out. ART is a method of activating weak or dormant muscles, breaking up the adhesions that form in muscle that cause pain and limit range of motion, and restoring normal functioning. It's often brutally painful, but it gets you right back on track. I got my quad fixed within two visits. (Thanks to Dr. Jon Schneider and the team at Wayne M. Winnick & Associates).
Here's a list of the other injuries I've sustained on this program so far, and what I did to deal with them.
Injury: Strained shoulder during a bench press
Course of action: Cursed. Asked "Why, God? Why?" Rested and iced it. Got it fixed by ART a week later. I also backed off the weight in my next workout.
Injury: Strained my neck during a pullup
Course of action: Cursed. Asked, "Why, God? Why me again? Why don't you do this to somebody at Men's Health!" Rested and iced it. Got it fixed by ART a week later. (See how great it is!) I also made sure not to crane my neck so much to get my chin over the bar. Going a rep or two shy of failure also helps, as you start to reach with your neck more when you get tired toward the end of a set.
Injury: Blistered, sore feet (from walking an hour or more several times per week for extra cardio)
Course of action: Cursed like a sailor as every damn step hurt like I was walking barefoot on hot coals. Asked "Why, God? Haven't I got enough to contend with?" Then I iced my feet and switched to riding the exercise bike. I really couldn't walk far without pain, so I got off my feet and was still able to do cardio.
That's been about it. I'm in the home stretch now with two weeks to go and most of my heavy lifting is behind me. Pray that I don't do any more damage. I'd ask God myself, but as you can see, He's heard enough from me.