Managing Expectations: Soft Tissue Injuries in Weight Training

“Nothing happens to the wise man against his expectation.”
– Seneca

Injury prevention for weight training has become a mainstream topic. “Injury prevention” makes one assume that injuries are preventable. Having been involved in weight training as an athlete and therapist, I can tell you that injury prevention is a fallacy. Injuries are a part of weight training as much as barbells, deadlifts, etc.

Weight training (squats, deadlifts, etc.) is a non contact “sport”. Theoretically injuries in non contact sports should be preventable. But as Yogi Berra said: “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they are not.” Thus, if you are under the assumption that you can prevent an injury from occurring; you are setting yourself up for failure due to unrealistic assumptions and expectations.

A pragmatic expectation is that injuries occur in weight training. If you do not manage your expectations and are surprised when an injury occurs, you are going to be miserable and the injuries will be that much harder to overcome.

All the greatest lifters, whether it be in bodybuilding, powerlifting, etc., all have encountered numerous injuries (see: Dorian Yates, Ronnie Coleman, Ed Coan, Louie Simmons, etc.). The injuries and overcoming them is what made these men some of the greatest of all time.

The bottom line is in weight training there is a lot of variables that we can control; however, there are just as many if not more external factors that we do not control. This means, by no fault of our own, it will not always go our way.

Great lifters understand the reality of external factors. Their mindset is to control what they can control and that is themselves. This mindset mentally prepares them for the adversity that comes with injury. Anticipate success but be prepared for both success and failure.

I have come to the conclusion that injury prevention is a fallacy. External factors make it impossible. Thus, we should immediately abandon the phrase injury prevention and replace it with injury mitigation.

With expectations now aligned with reality, we can look to what we can control, mitigating injury.

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John Quint NMT, FR, FRCms, ART, CAFS

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