“Don’t tell medical sh*t!” That’s the advice I got before I went to Marine Corps OCS in the summer of 2011.
“If you tell them you’re jacked up in any way they will DQ you before you even get started.” I wanted to become a Marine, I wanted to be at the school, but I did not want to be there any longer than I needed to be. Fessing up to any old injuries or conditions would be one way to end up in Quantico longer than I wanted or having to come back again next summer.
This was a common trend I witnessed throughout my entire career. Marines hiding injuries and other medical issues so they could keep their job and achieve mission accomplishment.
As it turns out, there is actually some evidence to suggest that this isn’t as stupid as I used to think it was.
Allow me to walk you through the three most common ways people deal with injuries to get a little deeper into this sh*t.
You’re not gonna get out of Fallujah if you can’t get over some chapped lips
(Marine Corps Times)
The mentally weak
We all know “that guy,” the one who always had a chit from medical explaining why they couldn’t PT. This is the guy who would turn chapped lips into a week of light duty on doctor’s orders.
When you stop all movement, training, and physical output because of a rolled ankle or some nonspecific lower back pain, a few things are guaranteed to happen.
You become more deconditioned than necessary. You get in worse shape than you were previously in. For those of you who are barely scraping by as it is this could be the last nail in your coffin for getting accepted to an elite program or finishing a difficult school.
You develop a fear of movement. If you roll your ankle running on a trail and then you cease running altogether, you will become afraid of the trail that supposedly injured you and of running. This may translate to a shorter or slower stride, which will both cause you to be slower in general. Again, this is not good.
Lastly, you will become less resilient. By folding due to a minor injury your mental toughness takes a major blow. Learning to overcome the small stuff is what gives you the strength to overcome the big sh*t. Resiliency is a muscle that must be trained.
At least get a band-aid you ninny.
The mentally stubborn
The guy who could be bleeding from both ears and keeps on swinging. Dude your brain is bleeding, stop and reassess the situation.
Similarly, this is the person who ignores the doctor’s orders altogether and goes right back to the same activity that caused the injury at the same intensity as before.
When you suffer an injury, even something as simple as a minor ankle roll (I know I keep talking about ankles, but it’s the most common injury among otherwise capable military personnel) you are no longer operating at 100%. That’s okay.
By smartly reducing your training load to an amount that doesn’t cause more pain, you can live to train another day. The stubborn mind doesn’t do this though. Often the stubborn mind increases training volume in order to beat the weakness out of them.Statistically, this is stupid. If you continue to blast your body into oblivion, you will be of no use to anyone. Knowing when to dial it back is an art that this individual has yet to master.
Don’t take time off from this place, just adjust your training.
The Goldilocks zone
This is a bit of a baby bear, poppa bear, mamma bear situation. The middle of the road (mamma bear) is where the most survivability and quickest recovery is found.
When you get injured, you are by definition deconditioned. You are slightly less capable than you were before the injury.
The smartest thing to do is to dial things back as little as possible so that you can still train but aren’t making the issue worse. In this training Goldilocks zone, you risk neither becoming a baby-backed-b*tch like the mentally weak do nor an armless-legless-fool like the stubborn mind does.
Military doctors take the most conservative route possible to hedge their positions. If you continue training and get injured further, the doc may get chewed out or lose their position. BUT if doc says do nothing and you fail out of your school due to missed training days or overall mental weakness…well it’s a lot harder to blame medical personnel for your lack of tenacity.
You know what doc is gonna say, and you can pretty much assume that your SNCO is going to say the exact opposite, choose the more measured approach. This may mean reducing your running pace, lowering the weight on the bar, or slightly modifying the exercise you are training. The less you change things, the easier it will be to get back to where you previously were.Be as mentally strong as possible without being stupid. Add that to your list of adages to live by.
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