Ouch! Now what?
I have good news and bad news. Let’s do the bad news first. You will, at a point or more in your life be physically injured by something you do. Our bodies are incredibly resilient, but whether it’s falling while walking your dog or bench pressing more than you should (to use myself as an example in the last 12 months), you will get hurt.
The good news! Again, that whole resiliency thing! Your body wants to be healthy and functional, in fact it’s very good at it when provided the right attention. In fact, it’s so good at it that try as we might (sitting all day, eating fluorescent things, not sleeping), it still supports us asking all kinds of things from it. Have you ever actually considered how amazing it is? If you put anything except three slightly different (we’re talking there actually might not be a difference) grades of gasoline in your car, it will immediately cease to go. Not run slower or sputter, but flat out destroy itself. Our bodies? I once ate nothing but Wawa for three days when I was 23 years old because I was too lazy to go grocery shopping. And by grocery shopping, I mean drink water.
In short, we are amazing beings with a tremendous capacity and helping you all achieve that is what makes me and our staff excited to come to work each day. So, what happens when something goes wrong? Let’s review the stages and then some suggested alternatives.
Stage 1: “The event” This is when that dog walking fall happens or you pushed for one rep too many without actually entirely setting your shoulders and the pain bell gets rung. Your body just told you ouch.
Stage 2: “Insta-Doc”. Cue google. Instantly, we each become subject matter experts in what ails us and within 10 minutes we’re on the seventh page of a WebMD search and have ordered a blood plasma machine, inversion table, requested time off from work for experimental surgery in Switzerland, sold the dog and cancelled all forms of activity and gym membership.
Stage 3: “The Abyss”. You see your friends working out, smiling and enjoying life while you frustratedly attempt to assemble that plasma machine alone and are told a specialist will see you in 3-8 months. F**k those Swiss guys. You become certain that you’ll never workout again. Meanwhile, you wrap yourself in a cocoon and conclude its definitely life-ending and possibly also related to that E. Coli lettuce outbreak.
Let’s pause for a moment and first talk about pain and then a different suggested approach. Pain is a signal from our body, that something isn’t working correctly. This by no means suggests minimizing it, but if I had a dollar for every time I was certain I needed surgery, I could have paid for med school myself by now. While pain may signal a major event, it also may not. What’s important, is to acknowledge it and try to understand what it is telling us. Ignoring pain has an amazing ability of making it worse 100% of the time.
Remember that bit above about how incredibly adaptable our bodies are? That doesn’t mean that our body won’t also tell us when something isn’t right – that response is pain. Where we get into trouble, is when we ignore what our body is telling us and our ego tries to override the entire history of feedback built into our evolved bodies that is pain. Being uncomfortable is different and often times learning the difference is a large part of training.
Let’s review an alternate suggestion around stages of experiencing pain.
Stage 1: If something rings your pain bell, pause and acknowledge it. If you smacked your toe on the bed, you hopefully don’t say “well, this is way I must walk to the bathroom, so I’m going to continue slamming it against the bed”. However, when our ego takes over in training – this is what we do. "Thrusters hurt my shoulder? Cool, let’s do 44 more of them and see if it gets better". Our goal and passion is to develop you as an athlete over years with us. It is literally the career of anyone working at the gym. This also means that no one workout or score is important (GASP!), the collection of training is important. Stop. Talk to a Coach, then assess.
Stage 2: We are not Doctors or Physical Therapists, let me emphasize that. However, the internet has a unique ability to make problems infinitely worse and does so at an incredible speed. We take care to learn about anatomy, physiology and training methods so that we can both modify movement and improve technique/strength and stability. Ask us, tell us what is going on. We pride ourselves on providing the highest quality coaching possible, we attend certifications and seminars, we read journals and watch webinars, all to build a happy you. Nothing pains US more, than to hear “yea, well it’s been bothering me for about 4 weeks now” or worse to just disappear. Our career is helping you. Either with our knowledge or professional medical resources who we know, trust and use ourselves. If we don’t know the answer, we will do everything we can to learn and find a solution.
Stage 3: DON’T DISAPPEAR. “I hurt my back, so I decided to forgo all physical activity and never see my friends again”. PLEASE. DON’T. DO. THIS. The reason why we don’t use machines in our gym is because we always want to be able to modify any movement to the most appropriate one for your body. We also have extensive experience in switching movement patterns so that you can still train other parts of your body or in different ways to get stronger while addressing pain. This is what we’re here for!
Pain is important. Pain is a signal and the quicker we can respond to that signal, the better your body will work. Though we can see what’s happening externally with your body, we have yet to figure out a way to get between your ears and see what’s happening. That’s where we need your help. Ask us, talk to us, let us know how you’re feeling. It’s literally why we come to work and it’s how we make you into a healthy athlete for your entire life, not just the next 6 months. The solution may take some time and require some re-learning (#trusttheprocess), but those efforts are always towards having you not just be pain-free, but kicking ass and being who kids want to be when they grow up on a daily basis. We are passionate about excellence in movement. Help us, help you!