Can vs. Can’t

Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t do.

Yesterday one of my readers asked me for psychological advice on dealing with an injury, and that above statement was the first thing to pop into my head so I figured it be a good launching point for today’s Quick and Dirty post. The feeling I got last week was that you all like the idea of a short post to end the week, so I’m rolling with it for now.

There are two ways to interpret what I said above with regards to dealing with injury: Focus on what you CAN do, not what you can’t do.

One deals with action, the other deals with attitude.

BOTH are extremely important.

I’ll use myself with my recent knee surgery as an example.

Prior to the knee surgery, my training consisted primarily of pull-ups, inverted rows, dumbbell presses, push-ups, rollouts, glute-ham raises, single leg squats, rear foot elevated split squats, front squats, sleds, and bike sprints.

After the surgery, the only thing on that list I could still do was pull-ups. There’s a lot of stuff I can’t do…right now.

I could have thrown in the towel altogether, figuring “what’s the point.” But that’s a loser mentality.

Instead, I focused on what I can do: pull-ups. Lots of them. 3,500 in January to be exact.

I also found replacements for exercises on that list that didn’t hurt.

For example, I couldn’t do most pressing because it hurt to plant my leg. So instead, I did floor presses with straight legs.

I still can’t train my injured leg very hard, but I’m doing what I can while continuing to train the good leg hard with single leg exercises. I’ve also used my injury as a chance to expand my exercise toolbox and come up with tweaks to make a lot of the exercises I love doing more knee friendly. I can share more of those if there’s interest, but that’ll have to be a whole separate post.

Several people have asked me if I’m worried about developing muscle imbalances by training the good leg so much more.

In a word, no.

Multiple studies have actually shown that training the good leg has a transfer effect to the injured leg so it still gets stronger.

But that’s not the main reason I do it. It’s definitely part of the reason, but to be honest, I’ve gone digging through a lot of the studies about the transfer effect and the takeaways are often conflicting, and in most studies that do show a positive correlation, it’s pretty small.

If that’s the case, why do I even bother?

I do it for my state of mind. I don’t want to fall into the patient mentality and feel like I can’t do stuff. When I do what I can, I feel better, and I honestly believe that positivity has a big impact on recovery.

We’ll see I guess. I’m doing a lot better, so that’s a plus.

As for the worry about developing imbalances, here’s my thoughts. First, if it does have a transfer effect, however small, then it’s worth it for the sake of speedy up recovery on the injured side. Second, we’re talking about a month or two of training time here. Realistically, you don’t pack on much muscle in that amount of time anyway, so it isn’t going to create major imbalances.

That’s all I have time for today, but I’ve been outlining an article called The 6 P’s of Rehab that will go into this stuff further.

If you’re wondering what the 6 p’s are, here it is:


Any suggestions you think I should add to the list, or any questions/comments you have for me, please leave them below. Have a great day.

I’m off to the gym for “leg” day. Literally.