Random ramblings about dealing with injuries. Don’t feel sorry for me; I’m just expressing my frustration. I’m hoping that getting this off my chest will help clear my head. I’ve whined about being injured a lot this year (last time I promise). In all my years (that exact number isn’t important) I can’t recall a more frustrating injury.

Quick recap
I had an amazing opportunity earlier this year to coach on the “Ultimate Fighter” TV show alongside UFC Champ Dominick Cruz. I got to spend 3 months coaching out in Las Vegas along with with other coaches of Alliance Training Center. It was a great experience and I took full advantage. Being in Vegas allowed me to train with the who’s who of MMA. In addition to all the great MMA athletes I work with currently, I got to roll with Vitor Belfort, talk shop with Forrest Griffin, get hip tossed on my head by Ronda Rousey (oddly, this was a highlight), and just be immersed in the world of MMA for 12 straight weeks. Unfortunately, all the training took a toll on my body. I first experienced some elbow issues (medial epicondylitis) back in March. I was rolling 2-3 times per week, strength training 2-3 times per week, and hitting pads and bags 2-3 times per week.

Admittedly, I didn’t rest when it first happened and I have only myself to blame. I still had two months left out there and I continued to train 6 days a week.

People who want change yet don’t change drive me crazy (Einstein defined that person best).

I was that person for a good 3-4 months. In July I cut out all the MMA training, however, the issue continued. Finally, in September, I decided to change. I got checked out by people much smarter than me and begin rehab. On Friday it will be 8 weeks of zero pulling movements. That’s 2 months without my two favorite exercises; pull-ups and dead lifts. Is it wrong that I miss doing pull-ups? Maybe I need to get out more…I digress. Any grip work would flare up my elbow so my only upper body work for the past 2 months has been T-spine mobility drills and shoulder stability exercises. For lower body, I did squat variations (no back squats as they bothered my elbow) three times per week and conditioning (1 sprint 1 hill) twice per week. I thought I was being smart…along with some weekly manual therapy work, the elbow is much much better. I  can perform daily activities without any pain now, however, I still can’t grip any weight (i.e. pull-ups, rows, deadlifts, etc). Progress…I’ll take it.

With this revised training schedule working I was feeling positive again. I targeted January 1 to be injury-free and ready to make some smart strides with my training. Not so fast. 3 weeks ago I pulled a hip flexor doing hill repeats. So now I have an upper body injury and lower body injury. Fml.  What I was doing earlier in the year wasn’t working so I made calculated changes and ended up with a second injury. I was smart with my training…foam rolling, activating the muscles that needed it, mobilizing and stabilizing the appropriate joints…result – a second injury. Are some people just more prone to injury? I’m starting to think yes.

Now I’m definitely not a big fella (170-175 range), but I’m definitely even smaller now with limited training for the past two months. I’ve continued to eat smart (local, organic) but I definitely feel the strength and conditioning levels dropping (Dawson feels my pain).

Next Steps
Like I mentioned above, the elbow is definitely improving. It “talks” to me when I pick up 45 plates, heavy med balls, and some other equipment…so I just need to be aware of it when I’m coaching. I definitely plan to continue my rehab exercises and I’m going to look into a cortisone shot (appointment scheduled for next week). I didn’t want to go this route, however, I’m in need of a new intervention. I’ve accepted the fact that I’m “shut down” til 2013 but I’ve got important trainings planned in early 2013 (TFW and the RKC)…sadly, there’s no way I’m getting a 24kg snatch up at the rate I’m going. Could I do all 100 with just one arm? For the hip flexor, I’ve got an appt this week for an evaluation and then I’ll gameplan. It’s not as serious as the elbow, but it will require me to hold off on the conditioning work for a couple weeks.

Final Thoughts
Not sure if there’s any education in this article or anything you can take from it…maybe it’s just that injuries happen. You need to accept them, deal with them, learn from them, and make proper adjustments to ensure they don’t happen again.

I can tell you that dealing with injuries forces you to get creative with your training routine. I’m really going to have to look at my programming once I’m back to full health. Again, this wasn’t a cry for help. Rather, it was more to share my frustration…I’m treating this as a “blog therapy” session. I typed this from a red leather couch so I thank all of you who read it. Shoot me your address and I’ll get my therapy session check in the mail to ya.

Train smart. Train hard.


About Doug
Doug Balzarini, CSCS, MMA-CC, is the owner of DB Strength, which provides fitness training, education, and resources. He is also the strength and conditioning coach for Alliance MMA where he works with UFC Champion Dominick Cruz, Phil Davis, Brandon Vera, Travis Browne, Ross Pearson, Alexander Gustafsson, and more. Prior to starting his own business, Doug worked at Fitness Quest 10 as a personal trainer, strength coach, and Operations Director for Todd Durkin Enterprises (TDE).

He has completed some graduate work in Biomechanics at SDSU and has obtained multiple certifications including ACE, NSCA-CSCS, MMA-CC, TRX instructor training, EFI Gravity instructor training, LIFT Sandbag Certification, and FMS training. He has produced his own 2-DVD set on strength training for combat athletes, appeared in many fitness videos and articles, and was recently a coach on “The Ultimate Fighter” TV show.

For more information please visit www.dbstrength.com.