Monthly Archive: March 2015

Overcoming Training Injuries

Overcoming Training Injuries

I’ll admit, it’s been a tough year for me. I’ve become accustomed to thinking that I was somehow made of titanium, and now I realize that’s just not the case.

I got inured.

Injuries suck. Overcoming training injuries takes it toll on you, physically and mentally. You feel like you’re just getting somewhere with your training — and then BOOM. Something strains or pulls, and suddenly things start to hurt.

Personally, my left foot has been bothering me since last fall. I’ve had heel pain and inflammation symptoms that resembled plantar fasciitis, but the pain didn’t seem to go away during the day. An ultrasound confirmed that there was a tear in the plantar fascia itself. Ugh.

And last summer, I tried doing a muscle-up in a park in Cincinnati. I got the muscle-up, but experienced instant elbow pain. I get tendonitis in my right elbow from time to time, so I figured that trying a muscle-up without warming up properly had just ignited it. Fast forward to today, and the pain is still there — only worse. An ultrasound confirmed that my right tricep tendon was torn. Rats.

So now it’s time to take my recovery seriously. I need to be strong, and I need to move.

I’m lucky in that I have a good network of professionals who can help. From massage therapists, chiropractors, athletic therapists to sports doctors — I’m pretty well covered.

I began with the sports doctor – Dr Michael Clarfield, who acted as team physician for the Toronto Maple Leafs for fifteen years. He recommended a treatment called PRP therapy. This is where they draw some of your blood, spin it in a centrifuge, and separate the platelet-rich plasma (PRP). The platelet cells are full of growth and healing factors that intensify the body’s effort to repair itself. The plasma is directly injected into the injured tissue in an effort to jump-start the healing process.

In my case, I was a candidate for PRP injections at both sites – the plantar fascia and the tricep tendon. Ouch. It’s a bit of a painful process…

Within a week, I was given the OK to start training again — but I was cleared for single-joint open-chain exercises only. That means no pushups, no pull-ups, no lunges, no skills-work, basically nothing “functional”.

So, open-chain exercises it is. I was glad to have something to work on. The worst thing you can do during an injury is to “do nothing“. You have to rehab, and there’s always something you can train. You just have to look at the injury — not as a restriction — but as an opportunity.

So my training goals took an unexpected turn. That’s OK. I’m just setting new ones.

Goal #1: I’m going to work on some direct hypertrophy (muscle building). I may not be able to bench press, but I can do lots of isolation movements including bicep curls, eccentric tricep extensions, lateral raises, dumbbell pullovers, leg curls and more. I’ve got a program and I’m all over it.

Goal #2: I’m going to do some direct ab work. Normally I get lots of abdominal and core engagement by doing compound lifts and full-body exercises. Over the next 6 weeks, I’ll modify and do some isolation work.

Goal #3: I’m going to work on my flexibility and mobility. Daily thoracic extension work, shoulder mobility and hip mobility — it’s on.

I hope to be given the OK to do more full-body and functional work within the next few weeks.

Here’s the point.

When you’re injured, you are obviously going to have to make alternate plans. You can’t (and shouldn’t) train through pain, especially any kind of joint pain.

But do make those plans!!!

Seek some professional help. Find somebody who works with athletes, not just a general practitioner. You don’t want somebody to tell you to “just rest”. You want somebody who understands training, and who can help you get back into things as quickly as possible.

Running the StrengthBox in Toronto, I hear it all the time from clients…  “I hurt my knee, so I can’t come to the gym”, or “I injured my shoulder so I can’t work-out”…  They’re not thinking about the opportunity. They’re not thinking about what they can do.

If you are injured, I want you to think about your own opportunities. Find out what works, and what doesn’t. Set new goals. Make a plan. Get your sleep and eat sensibly.

Focus on your opportunities, and get well soon!


Are Smart Watches Going to Make us Stupid?

Smart Watches

Unless you were cut-off from the media, you probably heard that Apple unveiled its much-anticipated Apple Watch at its Spring Forward event recently. More than a mere timepiece, this watch will enable people to pay bills, make phone calls, read emails, control and listen to music, and yes — track activity and exercise.

Sport junkies everywhere are excited for the possibilities and waiting on the development of further apps for the device. But as watches get smarter, are these and other wearable technologies going to make us stupid?

Maybe not in the strict sense. But I do know that technology has a way of cutting us off from the real world. It detracts from the goal of mindfulness — when the focus of your attention is on your own body, thoughts and sensations.

Here are some of the “benefits” you can expect with the wearable technologies like the Apple Watch:

  • You’ll be further entrenched with the technology and brand;
  • It will make you even more obsessive and compulsive;
  • You will be able to better disconnect yourself from your environment and surroundings;
  • You will no longer have to listen to your own body — the device will do it for you;
  • You’ll be better able to share all your workouts on social media, because your friends really want to know how many miles you ran this morning;
  • You can get instant text notifications to further distract you;
  • You’ll be more bionic, furthering your goal of getting away from nature to become a robotic consumer.

OK — I’m obviously being sarcastic and I’m not saying that smart watches can’t have a useful purpose for some of the population. But I suspect that most people who will buy them don’t really need them, and it will likely have a negative effect on their overall health.

Everyone talks about the benefits of taking digital detoxes — weaning yourself off social media, apps and obsessive technologies to reduce stress and reconnect with nature. Why go the opposite direction in everyday life?

Personally, I love my dumb watch. But I’ll leave the smart part to my own brain.