Training Around Injury

October 05, 2017

Training Around Injury

Training Through Injury

Hey guys; I want to start off by saying that I apologize on behalf of Mike and myself for the lack of articles. Both of us have had quite a bit of change going on in our personal lives, and we missed pushing out some hopefully helpful information for all you guys.

So, today’s topic: Injuries.

As powerlifters, athletes, or just avid gym goers who really care about pushing their progress, sometimes we get a little banged up - it’s normal. The injuries I’m going to talk about today are mostly talking about common overuse injuries - quad/patellar tendon pain, SI joint inflammation, and shoulder tendon/pain is what I’ll be covering.

I want to start by saying neither Mike or myself is a professional physical therapist, or any other professionally qualified healing practitioner - we’re just two dudes who lift, have dealt with our pains, and also helped managed some clients pains. If you’re unsure of what you’re dealing with, and are even slightly uncomfortable taking any advice away from any of the information following - go see a licensed professional. I recommend a good PT who works with lots of athletes. I have an awesome one.

Working Around It

The biggest thing I tell my clients when an injury pops up is this: Focus on the things we can do, not so much the things we can’t do. Have a so-called poverty bench, and right now you can’t squat or deadlift? Let’s bring that Great Depression bench to a nice Recession bench. I promise you you’ll feel a lot better focusing on the progression of one thing, vs. the regression/stalemate of another.

Just because your shoulder is feeling banged up, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. Here’s a couple exercises to try if you’re dealing with any of these 3 ailments. Now, if any of these slightly hurt at all - I hate that I have to say this - Don’t do them!

1a. Shoulder(s) on Bench Press

  • Push Ups: Yes, I know, push ups are soooo easy. So, make them difficult! Add some loading or variety to them. You could add a band around your upper back to make it more difficult on your triceps. You could do a deficit push up with your hands on mats/blocks, and make it harder for your pecs. You could set up a football bar in a rack, and use those handles to challenge shoulder stability (I’ll talk more about this later). The options are endless here. Your scapulae gets to move freely instead of being pinned down like during a bench, which could be an issue.

  • Unilateral Loading: Another great option is to start doing more DB pressing, whether that’s single arm or bilaterally loaded; again, this will help you load the same movement as the bench, but with your scaps moving freely, and challenging more shoulder stability.

  • Neutral Grip/Close Grip: Try doing a close grip bench press, or better yet, using a Football Bar if you’re lucky enough to have your gym carry one. This requires less external rotation of your shoulder joint, which could be an/the issue.

1b. Shoulder(s) on the Squat

  • High Bar/Safety Bar Squat: If you’re a low bar squatter, there’s a chance your shoulders and elbows might be getting beat up from that. The low bar squat requires a LOT of external rotation at the shoulder joint, and these can relieve some of the mobility required. I really like the Safety Bar Squat as a first choice, as it will really hit your anterior chain (quads/core) really hard due to the bar camber.

2. Lower Back on the Squat/Deadlift

  • Single Leg Variations (Quads): Split Squat, Step Up, and Lunge variations are awesome, and should be in your program anyway, injured or not. But now that you can’t back squat or deadlift, let’s hammer them harder. There’s a million and a half ways to load these, and I don’t see why you can’t rotate the loading parameter a bit differently every X amount of weeks. DB/KB on each side, opposite hand loading (contralaterally for you #smartboiz), front rack with KB’s or even a barbell, etc.

  • Single Leg Variations (Posterior Chain): Single Leg RDL’s, or Single Leg Rack Pulls are awesome movements to sub in, because you’ll be forced to use a much lighter load than their bilateral bro counterparts. They’re also going to force your core, and even your feet to work harder to maintain good positioning. Start light on these - you can get a lot for a little with these 2 exercises

3. Knees on the Squat/Deadlift

  • Simple Squat Changes: There’s a few minor things you can do your knees are banged up on the squat. You can change to flat shoes if you wear heeled olympic shoes. You can squat a little wider. You can slow down your eccentric. You can work on your feet gripping the ground. That last one is big for me, as I’ve been dealing with some nagging knee pain the last few months, and that one has helped immensely.

  • Conventional Deadlift: Instead of doing sumo deadlifts which (usually) will have a greater joint range of motion over conventional, try training conventional for a while. It’ll hit your hamstrings and glutes a bit harder, which you can never have enough of in either of the deadlift variations.

Getting Down to the Issue

There are probably hundreds upon hundreds of combinations of movement/strength inefficiencies that could be causing your pain - so many that this article could probably end up being 30 pages long if I explained each one the way I wanted to. So, instead, I’m going to post just a couple commonly problematic areas/movements for you to test yourself, and see if any red flags pop up.

  1. Shoulder External Rotation: Pull your elbows up so that’s they’re in a direct straight line off to the sides of your shoulders. Keeping your elbows where they are, rotate your hands as far up to the ceiling as you can comfortably control. If you trouble getting those hands pointing straight to the ceiling, chances are you’re jamming yourself into position under the squat bar, into a position you don’t have control of. Get that ish right.

  2. Foot Pronation: Watch a video of your last heavy squat; did your knees cave in? Look down to your feet; did they collapse inward? This could be a big piece of why your knees are bothering you. Get that ish right.

  3. Overextension: When you lock out your deadlifts, are you leaning back excessively? Or are you just finishing erect? If more the former, chances are that you’re not utilizing your glutes to the degree that you can, and you’re overusing your spinal erectors, which could be causing that back tightness. Think about driving hips forward and squeezing a penny between your butt cheeks, instead of pulling the bar back to you, and leaning back. Again, get that ish right.

  4. Shoulder Stability: Take a decently light Kettlebell, probably somewhere between 10-30lbs depending how juicy and strong you are, grab it by the handle, and pick it up so that your elbow is right in front of your shoulder at a 90 degree angle. Keep the bottom of the KB facing toward the ceiling the whole time. Try holding this for 20 seconds, and see if you get the crazy shakes, or if it’s just difficult to hold. If so, I’d do this exercise on both shoulders 2-3x per week, for a few sets of 15-30 seconds to help increase the stability your shoulders has under load.

Again - I’m not a PT. I can’t tell you how to attack the issues directly, how to massage or scrape them, and how to magically heal. What I do know is some exercises that may help relieve pain, and some mobility requirements for the big lifts that you could be lacking in, and could have a ‘trickle down’ effect, causing that pain. Two great physical therapists that post lots of exercises on social media to help combat common injuries are, @strengthcoachtherapy and @dr.jacob.harden.

I hope that any bit of information I posted in here helps you guys with anything you’re dealing with, and can help you still get in good training without putting yourself at any pain or further risk of injury. If any of you guys in the Long Island area and need a good PT, just shoot me a message on Instagram (@croninstrength) and I’d be happy to get my PT’s contact info to you guys!

We truly hope our other articles have been enough to keep your seat warm, and we’ll be cranking out more moving forward from here. We love you guys, and just want to thank you for anyone who’s ever bought a shirt, visited our site, asked us questions, or just read 3 words of an article we wrote. We love you.

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