I stood, hunched over the barbell.
Two minutes ago, I was getting my sweat on with some deadlifts. Then suddenly, with one pull of the barbell, I wondered if I'd ever stand up straight again.
I tried move towards the door, but a hot rush of pain made the entire gym go black. I didn't pass out, but it was close.
Son of a…..
This time it was serious.
Injury happens to everyone at one time or another; but along with the devastating, crippling spasms in my back was the equally painful knowledge that I knew better.
Prior to the rep that did me in, my back felt a little tweaked. Nothing major, but I knew something was off. I walked around, tried to stretch it out and debated my options. I could cut the workout short and go get on the bike for 20 minutes. But I was having a bad day.
I didn’t just want to work out. I needed to work out. I needed to get some happy in my system and while working out doesn’t always do it, it’s rare that I don’t feel at least incrementally better afterwards.
Our body communicates with us, all of the time. If we are stiff our body is sending a message; if we are loose there is a message; if we have a headache, stomachache, or whatever, pain exists to send us a message.
But as athletes, former athletes, and people who’ve finally gotten ourselves into a workout routine, taking a break feels like giving up and giving in. We don’t want to miss a beat, for fear of taking a few steps backwards or losing momentum. So we ignore the signs our body is giving us.
That day, I went back to the bar. (Not that bar people…) And form be damned, I picked it up, determined to grind out the set and get the training effect. Instead, I couldn't stand up straight for two weeks and sidelined myself from lifting for six weeks.
My persistence in sticking to my exact program on a day when my body wasn’t ready, cost me. I was flat on my back for a full week. Later, I found myself petrified of certain lifts for fear of triggering whatever it was that caused the spasm in the first place. So if I had a do-over, what would I do differently?
I was paying attention to my body, but I wasn't listening. That lift wasn't working. Dave Dellanave uses biofeedback to teach his clients just that. He has a system to help his clients test their bodies to find out which lift tests well on certain days. As a result, Dave's clients make tremendous strides, setting personal records on a regular basis. Needless to say, after my mishap, I was very interested in Dave's system and have been using his program "Off the Floor: A Manual for Deadlift Domination." My main goal is to deadlift more weight. But I can't do that if I don't stay healthy.
I would also be flexible. Yes, I'm on a program that goes five days a week. But I'm not a professional athlete making money with my performance. 20 minutes on the bike that day would have been fine.
I'd also be prepared. Yes I went to the gym with a specific workout. But now I'm prepared with other workouts in my binder; density and metabolic circuits that kick my arse and give me the training effect I'm looking for. Or you can do a dynamic warm up five times and work on mobility. Or get on the bike. It doesn't really matter. What matters is that you listen.
And because I just can't resist...you know I can't resist; in the words of Kenny Rogers, with fitness and all things, you gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em.