Category Archives: Injuries

Pain

I am still dying to get back into running… meanwhile reading up on how to cure my ankle woes with brainpower.

If you experience chronic pain, that is not an injury due to acute trauma, but something you might describe as “overuse” or neurological pain, then it is entirely possible the pain is a figment of your imagination.

“Your own body is a phantom… one that your brain has constructed purely for convenience.” from The Brain That Changes Itself (Norman Doidge)

When you experience pain, it is your brain sensing threat. Pain is a survival mechanism. Pain is what you feel when your brain thinks something is threatening your survival. Here’s a good video that describes what pain actually is:

After reading up a bit on neuroplasticity, I know it is possible to bypass the pain signal. It is possible to tell your brain that there is no threat to your survival… and in minutes – ok that’s being generous, I really mean seconds – your pain is gone.

But “normal” neuroplasticity takes too long. It could take months for a 50% chance of improvement.

So I am currently looking into proprioceptive methods of teaching your brain that you are not under threat.

I am very interested in Z Health, which is an American company teaching some of this stuff. They are coming here next year, and for a mere $2.5k I too can learn a few, but not all, the things I want to learn.

I am also interested in EFT or Tapping…. But again, that seems to only cover a few of the things I want to learn.

Musicians often use Body Mapping to cure injury, but I feel that too, is only a piece of the puzzle.

The Feldenkrais Method also seems to use some of these techniques. Interestingly enough, years ago I bought a book on running using the Feldenkrais Method, but I never read it! Time to dig it out I think! But still… Feldenkrais is just a piece of the puzzle.

I know there is more.

(Edit: Sensory Gating is something also worth looking into here.)

There are vision drills you can do to improve your vision, which in turn improves your range of motion, reduces pain and increases strength. A basic example is the common cue to “look up” when you squat or deadlift. Your body follows your eyes. So when you look up, your body naturally extends as you rise from the squat or deadlift. Guaranteed you’ll lift more than if you’re staring at the ground.

There is a basic proprioceptive drill that Dax Moy teaches, which improves your range of motion in seconds. I’m sure it can improve strength too, although I have not tested it with that yet. You can find it here.

Here is an interesting article on the CNS, pain, and how your body reacts and compensates to the perception of pain. It’s also very interesting to read there on why strength sports fry your CNS. This is the first time I’ve seen it spelt out so simply. And duhhh it’s kinda obvious!

Anyway… I know all this stuff can be linked together for a healthier and pain free body. Finding the info for free online is proving to be difficult and time consuming. I know someone has the answers… Dax Moy does! haha but he’s running different courses in Australia next year, not the course on this stuff.

Speaking of courses…. there are many good ones around next year. There is Wellness Coaching Level 3 for $1.5k. There’s Dax Moy’s thing similar to that for a similar cost, plus flights and accommodation. Although, I’d really prefer to do his “FixMyInjury” course (no, it’s not actually called that, which he is not running in Australia 😦 ). And there’s Z Health doing their thing for $2.5k or so, which again, only covers part of what I want to learn. Which to choose? Which to choose? Which to choose?

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Week ending 4/7/13 and a new physio

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Last week was another FAIL in the squat department. I really need to train with others for better squats! Maybe next week I will squat in the gym instead of at home.

Bench was ok, but not quite what I wanted. Still got a PB for reps.

Deadlift was surprisingly easier than expected. Perhaps because this was at the gym? Other people’s weights always feel lighter than my own.

2 weeks to the comp, and at this point I am expecting to match my squat and bench PBs, and hoping to hit a 150kg deadlift…. although I’m almost wondering if 150 is too soft now 😉

I had planned a bushwalk / run / hobble on Friday, but the week was catching up to me and I felt very tired. When I got home from work in the morning, I had breakfast to see if that would wake me up, but was still so overcome with tiredness that I lay down for a bit… and woke up 3 hours later. Guess I needed it.

I was recently reminded of The Best Physio Ever, who, a few years ago, fixed my ankle in 5 minutes, and I was 100% pain free for a few weeks. Basically he dug into my lower back, around the sacroilliac joint, and instantly my achillies/ankle area was fixed. I was in so much disbelief that I went for a 25km run with plenty of hills to see if I could break it, and it was fine! Unfortunately this guy is no longer working, so I can’t get him to fix me again.

I’ve told this to every other person I’ve seen about my ankle, hoping they would think, “OK, that’s logical, I’ll perform the same magic and you’ll be right again.” But instead they say what is in all their textbooks, which is, “Do 5 million calf raises and in a few weeks you’ll be cured.” But it doesn’t work like that. My calves are not weak. They’re huge. With muscle. They’re pretty strong too.

After being reminded of The Best Physio Ever, I was thinking why I can’t find any other professional who thinks along the same lines. Then I remembered…. quite a while back, maybe in 2006 or 2008ish, a physio caused a huge stir on a running forum re referred back pain. A lot of runners, physios and podiatrists got all uppity because someone they didn’t know what telling them something they didn’t know or believe, and it was quite funny to sit back and watch the flaming. Anyway, I know it’s referred back pain, because that’s how The Best Physio fixed me.

So yesterday I saw this forum-stirrer. I told him about The Awesome Physio. And he was like “Duhh, of course that fixed you.” And I told him about the stupid calf raises that everyone else suggests, and he was like “WasteOfTime.” And I was like phew.

So he dug into my back – all along my spine, in fact, to also make my scapulas happy too. Then he told me to go for a run.

Well, I didn’t, because it didn’t really fit with my training plan, and it was raining a bit outside. But so far I have a billion % improved extension in my right FHL, which has been one reason why I haven’t even been able to walk with correct gait in years. Now I can. The toe is still a bit uncomfortable, and I’m still clicking it. I also still get the odd shooting nerve pain in the achillies area, but I’m most impressed with the improved big toe extension. And once my GPS is charged up I’m off for a run to test it out 🙂

He also gave me a nice thoracic/lumbar/hip combo flexion and rotation exercise. I like this, because the movement is similar to a video course on sacral decompression I have. But this video I have teaches you how to do this on others, and it’s kind of impossible to do on yourself. This hip rotation is like a modification of it, but you just do it yourself as part of a warm up or cool down in front of the telly.

OK… GPS charged… time to see what running is like 🙂

Week ending 19/5/13 + Osteo visit

Finally after some time off due to sickness, I got back to it this week. I only got the big lifts done. No light stuff as I am still sick, and don’t want to push it too much. Also, I was (and am still) ridiculously sore from the high volume training sessions.

Monday – Squats @ gym
  • 2 sets:
    • Hip & thoracic mobility
    • 3 Lateral band walks
  • Squat: 3 x 10 @ 62.5kg (omg legs shaking, couldn’t walk up/down stairs for days!)

Tuesday – Rest

Wednesday – Bench + Deadlift
  • Bench: 10 @ 46kg, 6 @ 46kg (failed 7th rep), 9 @ 42.5kg, 7 @ 42.5kg
  • Deadlift: 3 x 10 @ 77.5kg (tough because quads still sore from Monday, and found it hard to stand up)
Thursday – Accessory stuff @ gym
  • Renegade row: 2 x 8 @ 30lb
  • Superset:
    • DB Bench: 3 x 10 @ 30lb
    • DB Curl: 3 x 10 @ 20lb
  • Superset:
    • Lying tricep extension: 3 x 10 @ 30lb
    • DB Lateral raise with pause: 3 x 10 @ 10lb
  • Lat pull down: 10 @ 80, 8 @ 100, 12 @ 80
  • Single leg KB Deadlift: 3 x 8 @ 2 x 16kg

Rest of week: Rest

Total training: 2 hrs 25 min
Nutrition: Nonsense

Today I went to an osteo to get my stupid ankle looked at. I had never considered an osteo before because I hadn’t heard any reports of lasting change, and some seem to be a bit quackish, not explaining things properly or offering long term solutions.

This guy is a runner, and was recommended by a runner friend, and I told him I had high hopes, and I’ll be pissed if he doesn’t fix me. Actually I wanted him to fix the referred pain from my back as well, but after 5 years of injury history rattled out to him he decided to look at the ankle for now. He reckons 6 weeks of visits and I’ll be right enough to be able to run 10km in October. I’ll believe it if I see it. He talked himself up a lot, saying he’s often people’s last resort, and he’s fixed them all. Whatevs. Doesn’t mean anything to me until I see results for myself.

After pulling my legs around a bit, and some very painful dry needling, he told me what I already know – stiff right big toe and very tight calfs with lots of knots, causing compression around the ankle. He reckons he can free that all up, then I can add in some strengthening, and then I should be able to get back into running slowly.

After the dry needling (which included a bit of swearing, and me warning him that I accidentally kicked the last acupuncturist I saw), he warned me when I stood up from the bench, my calfs would be very painful. I stood up and he was right. He said it would get worse during the day. He was right. I had to walk around on tip toes for a while because I couldn’t stretch my calfs enough to stand flat-footed. It was pretty dangerous driving around afterwards, because I couldn’t use the clutch very well. But after a couple of hours, and some moving around, they are not too bad. Still quite sore, but moving is better.

He told me to go for some walks and try a little bit of running to see how it goes, and only on flat ground. What will be painful for me is walking (boring), flat ground (boring) and specifically being told not to hit up Mt D 😦 I’m not sure how I’ll go with that.

Apparently my calfs will hurt for 48 hours, so this means I will have to cram my training in the 2nd half of the week. I’m supposed to see him weekly, but I made the next appointment a bit later because I don’t have health insurance so it costs a fortune so I will drag it out, and also so I can get my training done for the week first.

So… we’ll see how it goes. If he expects me to return for treatment for 6 weeks then I expect miracles.

Easy Week

Always after a comp I like to take an easy week. Even though it was bench only and it didn’t exert much energy, I needed a mental break of rigid structure in my training.

Monday: Nothing

Tuesday: Heavy DL, Light Sq @ gym
  • 2 sets:
    • 2 Inchworm-push up-back extension-spiderman
    • 5 High windmill @ 16kg
    • 6 Eccentric single leg hip thrust
  • Deadlift: 3 x 5 @ 107.5kg
  • 3 sets:
    • 5 Squat @ 45kg
    • 10 Shoulder dislocations
    • 5 Shoulder round the world
  • Single leg deadlift: 2 x 8 @ 2x16kg

Wednesday: Nothing

Thursday: Too hot

Friday: Heavy Sq, Light DL @ gym
  • 2 sets:
    • 1 Inchworm-push up-back extension-spider man
    • 5 Thoracic rotations
  • 2 sets:
    • 6 Leg lowers @ 2.25kg
    • 3 Turkish Get Up @ 12kg
  • Squat: 3 x 5 @ 80kg (easier than expected)
  • 3 sets:
    • 5 Deadlift @ 60kg
    • 10 Shoulder dislocations
    • 10 Band Shoulder external rotations
  • 3 sets:
    • 10, 10, 9 Neutral bar bench @ 40kg
    • 10 One arm row @ 45lb

Sat & Sun: Nothing 🙂

Total training: 2 hours
Nutrition: Definitive Diet with 2 treat days. Gave up coffee for a week as of Saturday.

My last coffee. Iced coffee on a hot day from First Pour. I asked for it black but it still tasted amazing.

My last coffee. Iced coffee on a hot day from First Pour. I asked for it black but it still tasted amazing.

My QL felt a bit tender for a few days after the deadlifts. It was the first time since my injury that I’ve lifted over 100kg and I hate to say my form was crap after a few reps.

Came across this interesting post yesterday: 3 Tips for Lifting while sorting through SI Joint Pain

It explains part of the reason for my injury in the first place. I know I have a weak anterior core so my back was doing a lot of the work. I also know my form was near perfect. It makes sense though, that if I keep my back in a rigid position for so long, for so much of my training, with no variation, then it gets stuck in this position and I get a stiff lumbar spine especially near the SI joint, which a few physios have commented on. All that tension… for years really… so it finally snapped.

So I need to include more multi-planar movements in my warm ups to ensure my back can move freely. TGUs are good for this (and again, I seem to have forgotten all about them til last Friday). Also Windmills. And the bodyweight warm ups I make my clients do. And the Russian hockey deadlift. Which I think has a stupid name, so I will call it something that makes sense when I do it.

Injuries…

I noticed a recent search term for my blog was “powerlifting injuries” so I thought I better clear it up online so people don’t think that powerlifting is a dangerous sport. I actually think it is one of the safest sports around, and is very good for your body generally speaking.

My most recent injury is a back injury – probably very common amongst powerlifters. It’s either a torn QL ligament or minor disc irritation.

I did it in the middle of strongman training, although it was during a deadlift – one of the powerlifting lifts. To be clear, this was a long time coming. I had referred pain in my glute for several months leading up to this, and when the QL went snap, the deadlift was just the last straw.

On the day, I had already done a fair amount of work. I had lifted heavier than I had before in other things such as the yolk and squat. I had also done log clean & jerks, and heavy farmers walks. All these things use your back so I was already fatigued. When it came to the deadlift, I was focusing on strong glutes, due to the recent referred pain in my glutes, which at the time I didn’t realise was caused by my back. I knew I had to strengthen my glutes, so I was really making an effort to use them in the deadlift.

So it wasn’t due to bad form. It wasn’t due to lifting too much. It wasn’t due to a weak back. It wasn’t due to those obvious things.

It was because I had become complacent. My clients’ warm ups were better than my own. I usually skimmed through my own warm ups, and did minimal direct anterior ab work. This meant my back took the brunt of the load. Not to mention that throughout winter my laptop lives in the lounge room where it’s warmer, so I slouch on the couch when working at home. My back is pretty strong, so it could get away with this for a long time… before it snapped.

So now I am taking my training much more seriously. I mean, if you are going to train and compete in sports, you may as well treat yourself like you are a serious athlete. All that training is going to catch up with you sooner or later.

This means:

  • Thorough warm ups so I am completely ready for lifting
  • Direct anterior ab work to build a stronger core to assist my back
  • More direct glute work so I have buns of steel to assist my back
  • Plenty of stretching afterwards to minimize tight muscles
  • Massage on tight muscles in between training to minimise muscle imbalances
  • Experimenting with supplements to improve recovery such as fish oil
  • Experimenting with other recovery techniques such as having a sauna

So basically… all the things that an athlete should be doing.

I personally believe that with correct form, nothing is impossible.

So… onto my running injury – tarsal tunnel syndrome. This is something that built up over years. I did not see anyone about it, and then when I did, I just kept running race after race! Although I rarely believe rest is the answer, modifying training should be.

My running form is pretty good. But when you have tight muscles, causing imbalances, the last thing you should be doing is running ultras. I did not pay attention to my body. I did not treat my body as an athlete should. All the points mentioned above… I did not do.

So now… while it is physically possible for me to go for a 3 hour run, it is not wise.

I should be doing all the above points. I should be treating my body much better. And I have no doubt that if I do that, and build up my distance sensibly, then there is no reason  I should not be able to run ultras again.

And I know everyone in the world will disagree with me on this point: But I see no reason why I cannot be a powerlifter and an ultra-runner at the same time 😉

No reason I can’t get back to this again