What would you do if you couldn’t workout?
Are the walls caving in around you all of a sudden? Are you short of breath? Do you have nausea, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach, diar – okay I think you get the point.
Hopefully for most of you, the mere thought of not being able to be physically active is scary. But is it scary enough to make you do that which you hate, for the sole purpose of being able to do that which you love? There is only one answer. Yes.
Soft Tissue Maintenance
Getting my start at Peak Performance has made me aware of so many things, but nothing has proved to be as underappreciated and as necessary as the maintenance of soft tissue quality. I have repeatedly learned this the hard way. Today was the last straw.
If you feel like you are out of the loop, don’t worry and, prepare to be very much in the loop. My recent struggles with maintaining soft tissue quality started as soon as I got back to Peak this summer. The fault though was all mine. I spent the entire year at school doing just less than the bare minimum of pre-habilitation/recovery work. I would foam roll only when prompted by a tinge of pain or a guilty conscious. My warm up became repetitive. There was no corrective exercise to be found. Sounds like a recipe (dramatic pause) FOR DISASTER! BOOM!
This week it finally caught up to me. I workout with two guys who far exceed my strength, size, and any other capacity you want to throw in there. Trying to keep up with both of them is like trying to keep up with two diesel energizer bunnies, or in another word, impossible. But I give it my all.
Yesterday was squat day and we started off the workout with full cleans. After the first few sets I knew it was going to be one of those days you dream about as a gym rat. I felt explosive and unstoppable. On the fourth set out of five I hit a personal record of 90 kilos for two reps. For the fifth set I put 95 kilos on the bar, got hyped up, hit the rep, and proceeded to jack up my left shoulder nice and good.
I put down the bar after successfully not passing out from a buildup of cranial pressure and moved my left arm around. I put the arm in the rack position of a clean and experienced some severe discomfort. Next, I proceeded with the workout and performed front squats (ouch again), box jumps, and sled drags. In hindsight my course of action following the injury was not wicked smaht.
As Friday’s workout approached I mentally prepared myself to kill it. We started with snatch pulls, with which I had no problems. Then came pull-ups. 84 of them were programmed and I only got through 17 before my left arm became completely dysfunctional. This time I stopped the workout and was lucky enough to be helped by a friend of mine, Dominique Hall, who works wonders with soft tissue problems.
After reducing me to a pile of moaning rubble with her bare hands, she told me that basically my shoulder was all “gummed up.” Muscle is apparently supposed to feel like raw chicken, and mine felt like chicken of the burnt variety. Not good. She went on to elaborate about the shoulder being a common problem for many people because of the numerous muscles and tendons present in that zone.
This idea of soft tissue problem areas brought to mind an article I read, written by Eric Cressey. The article titled What I Learned in 2010 mentioned the concept of “Zones of Convergence.” According to the article, a zone of convergence can be defined as “an area where the forces generated by a myofascial unit come together.” When you hear that definition, think about the joining of muscle and bone through the tendon. Bigger problems can occur though when multiple zones meet in one location.
It’s just my luck that one of the meeting zones is where the rotator cuff muscles come together and insert. My personal problem was mainly caused by the teres minor and the supraspinatus. Looking back this problem could have been avoided if the ratio between work and recovery was anywhere near 1:1 over the past year.
Now I have a bum shoulder, an insatiable desire to train, and yes the walls are caving in on me.
Lesson Learned (Big Time): Pay attention to the little things. Despite the fact that no cool kids are doing it, sustaining your soft tissue quality through foam rolling, various self-myofascial release techniques, or manual massage therapy is essential for maintaining the ability to stay healthy through physical activity. Do it!
(Attention to detail might have saved the baby seals in actual danger)