Easy does it

ImageIn my last post I mentioned I was going to see my doctor about my shoulder. Well, he referred me to a physiotherapist which is what I was hoping for. He also said that if the physio doesn’t work then surgery is an option. Hmmm. Can’t say I’m thrilled about that prospect. Anyway, I had my first physio appointment last week. When I described how I injured myself and what the symptoms are he nodded and said he knows what I’ve done. He then had a prod and a poke of my shoulder to confirm it. He said that my bones, muscles and ligaments are all fine (very pleased about that), but in the space in between them there is ‘stuff’ (I can’t remember what he said exactly) and it is this stuff that has become inflamed. He then applied some ultrasound to my shoulder, which apparently has an anti-inflammatory effect, and told me to keep my arm below head height for the next week, when he’ll see me again to see if my shoulder will be a problem (problem?).

So, I’ve had a week of not raising my arm above my head. This has obviously had an impact on my training as even though I wasn’t pressing I could still snatch and jerk without any pain so I had been doing those. Not any more though. Pull-ups were out of the question as well, even though these never caused me pain. Not being able to raise my arm has even affected my time at church 🙂

To aid recovery I’ve even avoided pushing movements (no press ups either) as I’ve found that sometimes this causes pain. So I’ve had a week of no hard work on my shoulders at all and I can honestly say that this week my shoulder has been the most troublesome. It has ached more than it ever has before. The ache, rather than being specific to one spot is a bit more general. Very frustrating and a bit confusing. I’m seeing the physio tomorrow morning so we’ll see what he says.

In the meantime I’ve been doing cleans, squats and swings. I normally avoid squatting too much as I work out in the morning just before I cycle to work. Performing squats before my commute makes cycling a bit of a chore I can tell you, but I’ve been taking it easy, both in the squat (5 x 3 40Kg front squat – not too heavy at all) and in cycling. There’s no point pushing it every morning.

I did have some good news recently when I found I could swing my 24Kg bell confidently. When I first got my kettlebells, I could swing the 16 but the 24 always felt like it was going to fly out of my hand (one morning it did!). The problem was my grip and the size of the handle on the bell. My 16 and 24Kg kettlebells are of a cheaper brand than my pair of 20s, as a consequence the design isn’t quite right and the handle on the 24 is just a little too thick, making it hard to grip. So, seeing as I couldn’t swing the 24 I spent a lot of time swinging the 16, and then when I got my 20s, I spent time swinging those as well. Then a couple of weeks ago I came to swing my 24Kg bell and found my grip strength had greatly improved and I could swing the bell without it flying across my garden 🙂 Just goes to show that strength is a skill, and practising this skill really works.

One final thing. I’ve started reading the book ‘Easy Strength‘ by Dan John and Pavel (both big names in sports and strength coaching). The book is written for coaches and trainers, it’s not so much a ‘follow at home’ workout book, but it is very interesting and it turns traditional ideas about training upside down. The main point of the book (as I’ve read so far) is that strength training should be easy, i.e. low reps at 70% of maximum weight. So if you wanted to get stronger in the bench press, you’d practice about 5 days a week and each work out you’d do a maximum of 10 reps spread across multiple sets (i.e. 5 sets of 2 reps) with a weight that is only 70% of your bench press max. This is not a punishing workout, and the hardest thing about it is too hold back, to not do more because you can.The idea is that you body can recover quickly and it also adapts quickly too, meaning that after doing this for anywhere between 20 and 40 days (varying the set and rep mixtures each time) you’ll find your strength has greatly increased and you’ll have added a large number to you max bench press.

So it seems that physios and strength coaches are all saying the same thing to me at the minute. Take it easy.

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