ARE INJURIES ‘GOOD’ OR ‘BAD’??
As I sit here and type this I battle some sort of small muscle tear of some sort in my left ‘trap’ muscle around the middle of my back just to the inside of my shoulder blade.. It’s hard to breathe, hard to sleep, hard to move, and definitely hard to workout..
That being said…
Conventional wisdom would have me:
1. Go see my doctor.
2. Take some meds and await some sort of testing.
3. Go see a physiotherapist.
I’m sure everyone from my doctor to my closest friends and family would also have me rest, relax, and not only stay home for the day but I should probably stop what I’m doing all together..
All this based on… what?!
A little ‘bobo’ to one of the many muscles that I am pushing on a daily basis to adapt and improve.
It is I, that is pushing myself to get stronger and get better..
Should I expect a little ‘pain’ once in a while or should it be the complete opposite?
Pain is a signal. It’s telling us that we need to work on a certain something.. It tells us there is a problem that needs to be fixed or at least helped..
A great example is one of my all time most loyal clients – Anne Woods.. Anne is in the seniors program and has been training with me for nearly 8 years..
To summarize the 8 year journey:
- She walked in with bad hips
- She had a complete hip replacement on one side
- Surgeon told her both would need to be replaced ‘eventually’.
- Each and every workout ‘hurts’ her hips.
- Each and every workout is a process of diving into the problem areas…
- It’s always an ‘up and down’ battle. Some days she wants to leave. Some days she’s excited and motivated. Basically it’s also an emotional battle having chronic injury.
- She gets better every year.
- The ‘other’ hip is doing just fine.
- Her movement patterns continue to improve. Her squat, her straddle up, her split squat, etc etc – continue to improve.. Anne is 64 years old.
The journey conitnues..
What is Anne’s option with sore or ‘bad’ hips?? To quit? To only do things that ‘Don’t hurt’?
Anne understands she needs to dive into the problem. She needs to target it and make it the nucleus of her program. She knows the only way to improve the whole is by targeting the weakest link. It ain’t easy but it’s the only way!
Is there a better way to look at injury? A more proactive way?
Yes. Of course there is.
We all get bumps and bruises when training. Looking at these bumps and bruises as ‘progress’ or ‘positive change’ is foreign to most of us in this society. We have become a society of lazy cry babies.. People who ‘expect’ things to get better or ‘rely’ on others (doctors, trainers, family, etc) to make the pain go away..
Maybe you have a weak shoulder and after a few months of training your shoulder is better but you start to get a pain signal in your elbow.. Is it possible that your musculature is shifting? Is it possible the restrictions that gave you pain in the shoulders are getting better? I think so.. Even though something new has appeared (elbow pain) it’s really no big deal. Just another day at the office – so to speak.
So what to do?
Evaluate yourself based on the movement patters you are executing and how well or graceful you are performing them.
An example is a squat. Many people cannot do this when they first walk in the gym. After a few short weeks the squat ‘appears’.. Potentially in a person who is tight and restricted – the squat hurts each and every rep. Provided the pain is tolerable (STRAIN VS PAIN) than the squat is obviously working…
How do we know it’s working?
Quite simply. It’s working due to an improved movement pattern. It may still hurt or even hurt more but the movement pattern is better so it’s ok. The squat is deeper. The back is straighter. The feet are flatter. The movement has improved thus the organism ‘pain or no pain’ has also improved.
This word ‘MOVEMENT’ is a big word.. It defines us in many many ways.. Make each and every rep of each and every exercise as perfect as possible.