Being Hurt vs. Being Injured
At a first glance, you might be like, “WTF, Miss Deejers? Hurt and injured are synonyms. They mean the same thing!”
Hurt and injured are, indeed, synonyms, and while they mean very similar things, I believe that their definitions truly take on different meanings in the context of exercise, physical fitness, and sports.
Merriam-Webster defines hurt as: 1a. to inflict with physical pain.
Merriam-Webster also defines injured as: 2a. to inflict bodily hurt on.
They sound pretty similar, yeah? However, the importance of the minute difference between these two words comes to light in the synonym discussion.
Injured implies the infliction of anything detrimental (a synonym of detrimental is harmful) to one’s looks, comfort, health, or success. Hurt implies implies inflicting a wound to the body or feelings.
Being injured implies that something bad for your health has been inflicted on your body. Being hurt implies that something you have done has caused an “ouch” and you are feeling pain.
Being injured is bad; Being hurt is not necessarily bad, but is uncomfortable.
Why am I pointing this out?
I have been asked several times about the injuries I have sustained from powerlifting. My answer is always, “None.” Now, I think people might get the wrong idea from this. Never having an injury from powerlifting does not mean that powerlifting has never caused me physical pain. I have, indeed, felt all sorts of physical pain from my sport; I have felt everything from, “Owie.” to “SWEET MOTHER OF ALL THAT IS HOLY! THAT HURTS!”
In fact, last week, I fell forward and caught myself with one leg while squatting 180 lbs. My hip flexor did not like that. This week, I have a perpetual knot in my hamstring that will not dissipate. When I did Smolov Jr. for bench, my shoulders burned with the fire of a thousand suns; they hurt so bad, I had trouble sleeping.
Simply being hurt should not stop you from exercising. I frequently see people confusing being hurt with being injured and they use it as an excuse to not exercise, and thus, allow themselves to get out of the habit of exercising.
I have seen and heard about people who refuse to do a particular movement because their muscles/knees/shoulders/ankles ache. My coach even told me a story of one time after he coached a new client.
Coach: “When would you like to schedule another training session?”
Client: “I don’t know. I think I am injured.”
Coach: “That’s not good. What hurts?”
Client: “My muscles in my legs. They have never been this sore.”
Coach: “So you have really bad muscle soreness?”
Client: “I am injured. They just hurt so bad.”
Coach: “I don’t think powelifting is for you…”
I wasn’t there, so, obviously, I don’t know exactly what was said; but that was the gist of the conversation he shared with me. I hear these conversations all the time at my gym. It is almost enough to drive a person mad.
If every time you feel pain, whether physical or emotional, you decide to stop what you are doing, you will have one heck of a time succeeding at anything you do. By allowing yourself more chances for excuses, you are setting yourself up for failure. Not to mention, I personally do not know a single person who wants to be described as a wimp.
Now, I am not advocating that you test your squat 1 Rep Max when your IT band it bothering you or that you always grit your teeth and push through horrible, blinding pain. I believe that a part of being physically and mentally fit is to know your limits and to know when to push your limits. You need to listen to what you body is telling you.
What should I do if I am hurt?
I recommend lots of stretching, dynamic warm-ups, ice or heat or both (depending on what hurts), extra rest and an anti-inflammatory.You may feel uncomfortable for awhile, but you should not avoid working out the hurt area. Just ease into it.
What should I do if I am injured?
Go to a doctor. Plain and simple.
All-in-all, you should listen to your body. However, physical pain, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing. Quit being afraid of it and quit letting the fear of feeling pain keep you from your goals.
(I originally posted this article on my personal blog on April 1, 2012).