How to deal with nagging aches and pains.

Realistically, as an athlete in any iron sport, you’re bound to hurt yourself sooner or later. I’m going to take you through what research, and my experience, has shown me to be the best way to address an injury that does not require surgery. To be clear, if a bone is sticking out of your body, you need surgery. If you cannot stand (weight bear) at all, see a doctor. But, if you have a nagging pain in your hamstring, quad, low back, shoulder, etc that is painful, but bearable, this article is for you. Further disclaimer: If you hurt yourself, you should get cleared by a doctor first to make sure that you do not need surgery.


Alright, so you don’t need surgery, and you have an injury that you want to leave in the past. First things first, don’t engage in any activity that makes it hurt for a couple days after it initially happened. Your knee jerk response may be to take Tylenol or Advil and to ice it. Do not do this. I’ll repeat: do not ice it or take an anti-inflammatory. This will actually delay healing because the inflammatory response is there for a reason. It helps your body heal itself. What you should do is prop it up on a pillow or lie down so that the injured area is higher than your heart. This minimizes blood pooling and avoids potentially creating a worse injury than necessary.

Don’t get suckered into the latest pseudoscience fads like whatever your physical therapist or chiropractor is trying to charge you $200 for. This is controversial, but your physical therapist, chiropractor, local shaman, etc actually are probably doing nothing for you more than swiping your credit card when they see you. Getting back into physical activity is the best rehab you can do.

After the initial swelling, bruising, muscle spasms have subsided after a few days, now is the time to get to work to help your body recover. That means 7-9 hours sleep per night, adequate maintenance calories with sufficient protein, and drinking plenty of water. On top of that, you want to get back into some exercise that is pain-free. If it hurts, don’t do it. Simple. Over time, increase the difficulty of the movement by adding intensity or repetitions, just like progressive overload but starting from 0.

I had a client that had a partial pec tear. It did not require surgery as the tendon was still attached, but it was very painful, with swelling and bruising. After a few days of resting it up with intermittently mobilizing the arm through its range of motion, he was able to get into a push-up starting position without pain, but not descend at all. After a few days of that, he was able to complete a full push-up painless. He was back to benching 2x bodyweight within 8 weeks.

Injury rehab, just like the rest of fitness, is a gradual, feedback-dependent process. Start easy and go slow. Listen to your body and, remember, there’s no magic pill except performance enhancers like androgens and HGH can certainly speed up the process. If this is something you’re dealing with but don’t feel confident on your own, I can help formulate a plan for you to reach whatever your goals are.

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Nick Trigili is a respected IFBB Pro bodybuilder and trainer. Check him out on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for more informative content. Also make sure to visit his official personal training website – World Class Trainers.

Header image courtesy of Envato Elements

This article is the sole opinion of Nick Trigili. Generation Iron Brands LLC does not condone, support, or advocate any form of illegal drug use.

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