| | Navigating Injuries with Grit and Growth

Author / John Durrett

7 - 10 minutes read

I’ve broken my body in a ton of different ways.

Fractured bones, torn tendons, busted cartilage and – this one hurts to type – even a ruptured organ.

Reviewing my relatively reckless time spent in the iron and combat sports, my injuries always came with good lessons: what didn’t kill me made me stronger… because I made the choice to see my rehab as a chance to get better in many different ways:

  1. I improved my sleeping by learning about caffeine half life, my circadian rhythm, and other important factors 
  2. I read books, deep diving into adjacent fields like nutrition, mobility and mindset
  3. Listening to podcasts featuring experts in the field
  4. Working on weak parts of my game, as my recovery allowed
  5. Upgrade your software while your hardware is damaged by taking courses to improve your mental game.

While recovering from one particular injury, I decided to work on my flexibility. A few months later, I was a certified yoga teacher. 

Another time, I wanted to dial in my mindset and self-control. One 12-week course later, I was a breathing and meditation coach. 

Injury doesn’t have to be an obstacle to your development. It can be an opportunity.

You’ll come out the other end a more interesting person, better athlete or coach, and ready to take on the world.


You’d be shocked at what you can learn when you’re not totally consumed by your primary endeavor. 

Are you a field athlete with a busted wrist who wants to get better footwork? Take up dance lessons.

Find yourself caving under pressure free throws? Head to an archery or shooting range and learn how to focus up.

Injured and looking for a way to improve your flexibility? Take a shot at IRON FLEX to fortify your mobility, even when rehabbing.

Truth is, there’s ALWAYS something we can work on. 

And it goes beyond health & fitness – catch up with friends, invest time into non-sport related hobbies, grow as a person… nobody wants to be one-dimensional.

This stuff matters, because injuries are often harder mentally than physically. Sure, pain sucks, but so does shame, missed opportunities, and sitting on the sidelines of life. 

What if you didn’t make that dumb play? What if you chose a different tactic? What if you hadn’t chased that PR lift?

It’s easy for these negative thought patterns to become obsessive, especially if you’re scrolling social media, watching other athletes post about their progress and achievements. 

Additionally, injuries teach us patience. In time, the injury will pass. We will recover or adapt to our new circumstances.

As a final thought: injuries also afford you the time to reassess your training.

Is playing pick-up basketball with kids half your age on 3 hours of sleep with a newborn baby while crushing JACKED STREET why you got hurt? 

If that sounds oddly specific, it’s because it literally happened to someone I was coaching. It was time for a shift in priorities and a turn to GRINDSTONE, to better balance life and training.

Perhaps your injury was more general: weak things break, and something along your body’s kinetic chain needs to be treated differently and focused on more.

That’s what happened to me, and I’ve been working the weak links in my armor ever since. Every injury becomes a little redirection, a course correction, and learning to listen to your body can help them from recurring. The goal should really be to learn from our injuries by getting hurt less often, especially as we get older. Dig into the wisdom of your body’s painful lessons and make sure that you’re on the right track. 

If you’re dealing with aches, pains, or any nagging discomfort right now, let us guide you on the path to recovery with one of our Movement Health courses.

Related Content:

Blog: ACL Injury Prevention: Injury Mechanisms by John Welbourn
Podcast: PA Radio Ep 434 – Overcoming Catastrophic Injury with Ryan Bachik
Podcast: PA Radio Ep 460 – The Grift of Injury with Dr. Matt Zanis
Training: Iron Flex

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John Durrett

John is a Coach at Underdog Mixed Martial Arts in West Hartford, CT, where he teaches both martial arts and strength & conditioning. For over a decade, Underdog has built several professional fighters, even sending some to the UFC and Bellator. John began training martial arts at a traditional Karate dojo at the age of 6 years old. This was the start of a lifelong journey which has seen him log countless hours in a myriad of styles, including Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Wrestling, Kali, Eskrima, and Jeet Kune Do. In addition, John has spent over a decade working as a professional strength and conditioning coach, coaching at the High School and D-III Collegiate Level. Along with over a dozen other certifications, he holds the distinction of being a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the NSCA and is honored to be counted as a Power Athlete Block One Coach. He is intensely passionate about empowering athletes to find their max potential and explore their body’s unique capacity for the martial arts.


  1. Rob Honnet on March 8, 2024 at 10:05 pm

    Legit great dude. John spent 30 minutes on the phone with me during my 15 min consult. Then crafted a multi-page e-mail, that evening, addressing the issues we didn’t have a chance to discuss and his continued thoughts on our conversation. The bulk of our conversation consisted on my training around a recent labrum tear, with no time for surgery in sight. From the information in this article, I’m sure a great deal of his discussions stemmed around how to train with injuries. John is very knowledgeable and thinks outside of the box when it comes to techniques to keep you in the game. I couldn’t recommended him highly enough as a PA certified coach to reach out to.

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