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Battling with an injury – lessons learned

Me, last weekend. Photo by Bold Creative

Last weekend I entered a local b-boy battle, despite having an injury from training a week and a half before. Overall, I’m pleased with my performance considering the injury. Videos below.

This in no way means that I endorse competing before an injury has recovered!

It was very inpatient, stubborn, and risky of me. That itself was a lesson learned. Anyway…

Here’s how I managed to prepare for – and enter – the battle with a side / back injury.

Days 1 – 3

First, I took some rest – one of the most important factors in injury recovery. Immediately after the injury (Tuesday, September 4th) I took about two days off completely. In fact, I took a day off work too. It was quite painful the next day – I could barely roll over in bed. I described this in my first post about the injury.

However, since early movement is good for any injury, I went back to work the next day and moved as carefully as possible. I also went to practice that night – but I barely did anything. I just moved around slowly, and experimented with positions that aggravated the pain, so I knew what to avoid – then I focused on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t. It felt great to dance, even if it was very little.

I also took an extra strength ibuprofen once or twice a day for the first few days. Anti-inflammatory medications can be very helpful in the early stages of injury – when used responsibly, of course.

Days 5 – 7

The pain was much less severe by Sunday. Coughing and sneezing still killed me. I decided to go to practice and see what I could do.

It didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I could do a lot of dancing, but anything involving a powerful twist at the waist caused as much pain as coughing or sneezing – like someone punched me right in the injury. And that’s a lot of my movements.

After that, I looked up and read about “Mental Imagery” – and what I found ended up being becoming an article. Read it! For the next three nights, I practiced this imagery. I visualized myself both free-styling, as well as executing moves that would have been painful. It was a very interesting experience, and I really think it helped.

Days 8 – 12

One week and a day in, and I head to practice for a “real” one. It was time to start an ‘Active Recovery‘. To reduce pain, I tried taping, since there’s a little research to support it. I used regular sports tape to tape my side with a big X, essentially tracing the fibers of my internal and external abdominals (like this, but with another strip to make the X).

Practice actually wasn’t so bad. I don’t believe the tape gave me any “support”, but I could certainly feel it when I was twisting, which likely kept me from twisting too much or too forcefully. I was able to do a little more during this practice, even many of the movements I planned for the competition. Everything hurt to a degree, and only a few “powermoves” actually caused significant pain: flares, swipes, and halos. Happily, I could still do babymills. The others were scrapped for this competition – not worth it.

The following evening, I did the same thing, although a little slower. I didn’t want to take any chances.

Then Friday was a day of rest, and Saturday, the battle. Before the battle, I taped my side again. I also made sure to warm up thoroughly! I went with just one goal: to have fun!

Here’s how it went:

First, there was the preliminary battles. 20 Dancers entered the one on one competition, so we had to narrow it down to the top 8. In this round, I went up against Colin, a young guy from the local bboy scene. I was pleased with how it went, and I didn’t even notice any pain! Check it out:

From there I made it to the top 8. My next battle was against bboy butta from Toronto, Canada. Unfortunately I lost that one. Although I think I did pretty good considering my injury, I really needed to go harder to beat him. Check it out:

So there it is. I made it through, survived without making the injury worse. I could even partake in the judges workshops the next day.


This was my first major injury since becoming a physical therapist. It was an interesting experience. I tried to put into practice the same principles I teach others (in approximately this order):

It was a great learning experience, and of course, the event was simply awesome. I taught a workshop in injury prevention (ironically), which went very well – people enjoyed it and had a lot of great questions.

Personally, the injury has made me think about how I can improve my rotational power in the future – so it actually caused some valuable reflection on my training techniques. I can’t wait to start training again!

This week, however, is one of rest.

In conclusion, this injury has been a great learning experience.

Has anyone else had similar “positive” experiences with injuries? Let me know!

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    11 Responses to Battling with an injury – lessons learned

    1. Hey Tony,

      What do you think about the change from PRICE to POLICE.

      I certainly like the addition of Optimal Loading, but I wonder why Icing is still hanging on. Any research on that?

      • Tony Ingram says:

        Yeah, icing has been on my mind, and there’s some evidence that it doesn’t speed healing. I plan on re-writing my article on ‘How to Ice’ very soon. It doesn’t reduce inflammation as popularly believed. Generally, I don’t see why we should decrease inflammation anyway – it’s the natural healing response, isn’t it? Why slow that down? And inflammation increases pain sensitivity – but it’s supposed to hurt… it’s an injury – leave it alone!

        I like optimal loading – it encompasses how it can change throughout recovery. On the first couple days, pretty much zero loading, then progressively more and more as recovery proceeds. Good suggestion!

        • Hey Tony,

          If you don’t think we should decrease inflammation, is that why you are saying “just a little” NSAID’s. Why use them at all?

          • Tony Ingram says:

            For pain – because they are cox-2 inhibitors, they decrease that hypersensitivity associated with inflammation. Interestingly, this pain relief can be achieved even in conditions that are not inflamed – suggesting that the mechanism by which they relieve pain is actually different then simply “lowering inflammation”.

            Still, they do lower inflammation, which is exactly why I said “just a little”. Check out the article I wrote on using them – research shows that using them too much can actually slow healing. Probably because inflammation is an important part of the healing process, one we shouldn’t always be trying to lower (in my opinion).

    2. Patrick says:

      Man, I think I’ll rename myself to Bboy Injured. After lightly tearing up my hamstrings due to over-stretching(Mentioned in another post) I took two weeks off and I started feeling pretty good, I could break for 4-5 hours before feeling the cicatrization on both of my legs burning a little(I would stop then). Yesterday I was practicing new stances and dislocated my right thumb twice in less than 5 minutes(Like I felt my thumb getting out of it’s normal range and sliding back in, I also heard some cracking). So I decided to do other movements and I snapped one of my toe(I woke up this morning and it’s blue-ish and I can’t flex it much).

      To make this all worse for some reason my right arm’s elbow hurts whenever I flex. What’s weird about that one is that I didn’t feel it until I woke up. I got home late at night with my bicycle and my elbow wasn’t behaving this way. I did around 24 dips and 100 handstands which I do all the time. Perhaps it’s linked to my thumb in some way?

      I’ve been giving plenty of rest to my hamstrings(Spending all day sitting in class or studying all week) while still giving them a bit of work with mild cycling and swimming. I eat lots of veggies with meat and at least 3-4 glasses of milk on a daily basis I’d expect to heal faster!

      Anyways, I’m going to spend this weekend resting…again. I’ve been following a similar approach as you did. The only thing I didn’t do was taking anti-inflammatory medication and taping. I used to ice my hamstrings, but apart from toning down the “heat” feeling it didn’t seem to do much.

      Alright, take care!

      • Tony Ingram says:

        Damn Patrick. That’s some pretty bad luck! Can’t prevent them all. There about a year ago I was suffering a bunch of different injuries and pains all at once, so I said screw it and took a voluntary “off-season” for 2 months – no breaking. I just went to the gym once a week and did a full body resistance workout, using long time under loads and slow rep tempos, kinda like a “superslow” program. I eased back into breaking, and other than needing about two weeks to get back in shape, it wasn’t so bad. I think I needed it. Not saying that’s what you should do, but it helped me!

    3. Rajam Roose says:

      Hi Tony,
      Thanks for sharing your story! It is my understanding that taping doesn’t provide support but instead may give a relief from pain by reducing neural tension in the cutaneous nerves via skin pulling. Basically, a type of dermoneuromodulation (DNM) as taught by Diane Jacobs except using tape that can be applied for up to five days of skin pulling, as opposed to a hour session once a week.


      • Rajam Roose says:

        Oh yeah, by the way, I love how those young whippersnappers thought they had one up on you (in the first vid) but got shown!


        • Tony Ingram says:

          Hahaha yeah – as a part of the battle ritual, you have to pretend to dislike/disrespect the other person whether you really do or not. It’s all part of the show. The funny thing is, it actually can work for you if you can steal some of their confidence – make them choke! This is why I love competing, it’s really a fun way to apply your dance.
          Thanks Rajam!

      • Tony Ingram says:

        Hi Rajam,
        I actually forgot to mention that the tape seemed to relieve the pain even when I wasn’t dancing (i.e. just walking around). I suspected such a mechanism as you mentioned. I wonder if it’s really reducing neural tension, or simply sending normal, non-threatening sensory information to the brain letting it know “everythings okay there”. Either way, it did seem to help!
        Thanks for the comment!

    4. John Oh says:

      Hey Tony, hopefully you respond to this post!
      I’ve just started practicing swipes and during that time I neglected my warmups/stretching….
      My back feels injured, it’s not too bad, but it’s only when I move it in a certain direction– not coincidentally it seems to be in the direction I do my power.
      Is this an injury in my muscle or could it be something as bad as a herniated disc?
      No numbness, just mild aching.
      Again, sorry about the trouble Tony, and thanks for all you do!
      B-BoyScience all the way!

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