It's been an incredible last few weeks for both Lindsay and I, and we are both finally settling back into our normal routines. I've been quiet on the blog recently, as during the past two weeks I've been squeezing in a full week of work into about 4 days. Suffice to say, I napped on Sunday. Hard.
Anyway, as I've grown busier I've also started receiving many more emails, several from clients that would like advice or want to reschedule. Here's one such email I received a few weeks ago:
"Hey Alex, my piriformis has really been bothering me for the past week. I think the best thing to do is rest for a few weeks and come back when I'm ready."
Sorry, try again.
While that may sound like a reasonable excuse to some, it's not to me. First off, the source of pain is probably NOT this person's piriformis or their other five external rotators, but somewhere else in their body. Secondly, it's probably made worse by their desk job, and the fact that they aren't moving enough (or properly) in the first place.
But beyond that, it's indicative of a trend I've noticed that has become my own bad version of mad libs. "My (shoulder, back, vestigial organ) is hurting....I'm going to skip (a day, a week, a month)."
If something hurts, the solution isn't just to do nothing and get weaker. You need to keep training!
The best way to illustrate this point occurred a few months ago, when one of my clients wrote me a note on a Sunday morning that his lower back was absolutely killing him and that he wanted to skip the following day. (Keep in mind, he has some postural issues and sits in a desk all day, so it's not like he's a spry young chicken.)
Anyway, after convincing him to come in (after all, what did he have to lose?) we did the following for the first 20 minutes: rolled his hips and glutes with a lacrosse ball, performed plenty of breathing work, followed by some core activation. The result? His back was 95% better (his words), and we were able to train somewhat normally from there on out.
Fast forward to yesterday morning, and another one of my clients had a cranky shoulder from a long week of manual work. In this case, they had too much mobility, and not enough stability, so stretching would only make the problem worse. Instead, we did some shoulder stability work, followed by heavy deadlifts, 1/2 Turkish Get ups, Rows, and heavy carries. Once again, they were pain free by the end of the session, and they were so impressed they may have asked me to autograph their baby. (Ok, maybe not.)
Now, will situations like this work everytime? Absolutely not, and you have to know the nature of what ailment you're dealing with. But the solution to being in pain should never be to stop dead on your road to progress.
If you're dinged up, and still want to train, the answer to what you should be doing is pretty simple: does it hurt? As I wrote here, there are tons of exercises to get the results you're looking for. If something hurts, just don't do it.
Remember: the answer is never to get weaker....it's finding a way to train around pain.