with Erik Mata
The first time I have had to deal with an acute injury was, during my prep for the European Championships. 18 days out my SI joint on the left side popped during a deadlift session.
The pain in the first 48hours was so bad I could not put my shoes or socks on, I could not pick things up off the floor, and obviously training was a no go. It was weird, when it happened, I knew exactly what it was, what it meant for the rest of the prep, and what I had to do to get back to as close to full strength as possible within the time frame that was left until competition day. I feel like a lot of people choose to not talk about their thoughts and feelings when this happens, so I just want to talk about what it’s like preparing for a competition with an injury...
What to do when it happens
When it happened, I packed up, went home, went for an hour walk and went to bed. As expected, the next day the pain has gotten significantly worse, a lot of it is just inflammation, a natural part of the body’s healing process. I continued to stay active, went for short walks every couple of hours (they were extremely painful and slow), and I tried to spend as little time sitting as possible. I feel like it’s important to note that the pain tends to be the worst in the first 48hours and it tends to calm down a lot after, unless it’s a more serious injury...
Seek professional advice ASAP
I was able to see Ross (@rossteoopath) my Osteopath 3days after it happened, he did all the manipulations necessary to reduce pain and ensure it doesn’t go again. This was a huge part of the recovery process, having someone to look after you when stuff like this happens is extremely valuable. I strongly encourage everyone to invest into a good professional who knows the ins and outs of your sport.
Psychologically it is difficult for everyone to go into a competition injured. I found the fact that there was no expectations kind of took the pressure off, but also took the enjoyment out of the competition, especially considering it was my final competition as a junior. (Ultimately, we’re at the competition for 2 reasons, to place well, and to PB) Regardless, I’ve learnt so much about myself still turning up to compete at Euros, that is a positive that developed from the injury.
During the rehab process, you have to be patient, careful and really make sure you’re doing the right things in order to get back to 100% both physically and mentally. Rehab work is absolute priority post injury, and if possible, I would not recommend competing with an injury. Also, I cannot stress this enough, if you are unsure on how to rehab your injury, seek professional advice!
The truth is, you just have to accept that it will take some time to get back to full health, and that the process is going to be a struggle, it’s going to be extremely frustrating at times, taking 1 step back before taking 2 step forwards. It’s unlikely your injury is life long, so just get on with the rehab process and focus on doing things you can, and don’t worry about things you can’t do just yet!
I was 97.5kg 1week out, which is pretty standard for me, the weight cut went exactly as expected, and I weighed in at 92.9kgs. After weigh-ins, I managed to get back up to my training weight pretty quick,. I felt absolutely fine warming-up. Openers were set at a 255kg squat, 167.5kg bench, and a 265 deadlift.
Unfortunately, I ended up going 6/9, missed my first and third squat on depth, I was more concerned about my back the entire competition than lifting the weights, also missed my third deadlift as my SI popped
halfway up again. It wasn’t as bad as the first time but, I was terrified I will be in the same state as last time. However, I ended up being absolutely fine the next day, little sore, that’s it. Honestly, if you are ever in a situation where you have to compete injured, the first thing is I’d make sure you can hit your opener. Afterwards, pick safe attempts and don’t get hurt in the process of competing. No competition is worth getting injured over. Also, I have to say, this was probably the best international I’ve been to, in terms of organisation, venue, consistency of judging and warm-up equipment. Lithuanian Powerlifting definitely set the bar high for all other European countries to hold their standards high when it comes to organising a competition. There was a ton of incredible performances, here’s a few that stood out the most to me:
Sam Watt finishing third as a 105 M1, (now m2) against the open guys totalling 860
Owen Hubbard winning the European title again and benching 218.5
Novopismennyi Anatolii totalling 853.5 in the 93s with a 331kg WR squat, and still a Junior (also only took 8 attempts and didn’t come out for his last deadlift)
Suzanne Daniel pulling 195kg on her second attempt for a Junior World record
Aron Hegedus (fellow Hungarian, but also competes in British Powerlifting) totalling an insane 807.5kg in the 105 Juniors with plenty of room to grow (He also dropped 150kgs on his chest in the warm-up room then benched 180 on his third)
Overall, regardless of my performance, it was a great experience to be there and see so many friends compete and do well, eat some good food and watch some insane lifting.
My JNR Career
I remember ageing out of the Sub-Juniors I was excited to have higher level opposition and compete in a super competitive weight class. During the 5years, I got to learn a lot about what works, and what doesn’t work, and also just gained a ton of in-competition experience nationally and internationally.
I have similar feelings now, competing against the open guys, it’s exciting to me to go head to head with genuinely the best this country and world has to offer.
Long term battle
Ultimately, I have to be patient it is my first year as an open lifer. Although, that’s also no excuse for me to slow down because there’s a ton of upcoming talent in the UK.
Plan to stay 93
I feel like I have a ton of room to grow in the 93s, but that also means I am only looking to do 2 competitions/year for the foreseeable future, likely only 1 competition in 2020 being the British Classic.
Enjoy the process
I am excited to be at the bottom of the ladder again, not being one of the best in my respective weight class is extremely motivating to me.
Ultimately, I don’t think anybody should be discouraged by having to work a few years before they’re up there with the top of the weight class. As the sport grows, the standard rises, and it’s up to us young ones to continue to raise that. Just enjoy being at the bottom again!