I went back to the gym today for the first time since mid September. With my experience as a power lifter and my ever present overachieving nature For many years I felt that if I didn’t walk out of the gym soaked in sweat and barely able to drive because I was so exhausted, that I hadn’t done anything useful.
But training, like most things in life, is evolving. We now know that going at it full bore without the correct foundation can lead to significant structural imbalances and injuries. As important is the fact that if you do get injured you at the very least might not get full functional capacity back or at worst are much more likely to cause further injury through what we call the repetitive injury cycle.
I am naturally strong and love lifting, but I have 10 and 20 year old injuries that were never rehabbed properly and it severely impacts my range of motion and ultimately puts me in jeopardy of more injuries. Today I didn’t lift anything heavier than a 5 pound plastic ball. I did use a small kettle bell, but that was for dead lifts against a wall so I didn’t really do much lifting of it.
I went through several stability and range of motion exercises. At first it was very disappointing to not be doing my old favorites, but when I started feeling the burn in the arches of my feet all the way through my glutes I knew I was doing the right thing.
I did an exercise with a three pound ball where I held it over my head in the palm of my hand and twisted my arm in circles around and under (hard to describe, but incredibly useful). The goal is to hold your hand flat and not grasp the ball while keeping it balanced. My right arm handled it pretty well of course, but the injured left shoulder couldn’t do it at all on the first set. As soon as I would start the twist in I would drop the ball. The amazing part was that on the second set I was able to perform the movement completely and without pain.
I haven’t been able to do anything that required me to hold up my own body weight while extending that left shoulder in years. My goal now is to get it strong enough to do pullups and hanging leg lifts pain free.
The main point of this entry is to say that it is ok to go back to basics and recognize that sometimes we have to admit we are not where we once were, but by having the right attitude and putting in the work we can get back there.
Time is going to pass and when you wake up a year from now you can be in the same place you were today or you can look back on a year of hard work and be proud.