By Scott Canatsey – Lead trainer at the Parrillo Performance training facility
Hey friend, let’s do some shoulders today!” “Not today, man. My shoulder has been acting up again. How about training arms?” How many times have we heard or said these words, or something similar? We hear this very often if you spend much time in the gym. If a person has been a weight training enthusiast for a few years, they will commonly experience a set back from a training or stretching injury. Over time almost all of us will experience some kind of rotator cuff issue or chronic elbow pain. Knees ache from lifting heavy and lower back problems are a plague by themselves that can occur from a slight move in the wrong direction. How do we deal with these and still continue to stay in fit mode? Is there a way to work around these nagging injuries? The short answer is, yes there is…most of the time.
The most common of all bodybuilding injuries occur in the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder. These inferior muscles have a tendency to get tight and strained for two easy to spot reasons. The first one is poor bench form. Just because you are on a bench press doesn’t mean you are training pecs. If you are not using proper form, it is typical for lifters to use their shoulders to initiate the lift and the triceps also assist. The chest is getting some work, but not in a primary way even though that is a conjunctive movement it should still target the pectoral muscles when performed correctly. Performing bench press in this fashion puts undue stress on the Front deltoid. It creates an impingement when the shoulders are kept up high and the bar is brought up high on the chest. This is that pain you feel in the shoulder when side raises are performed or bench press is a little too heavily attempted.
The remedy is a simple one that Dr. Jeremy Girmann (@inertiamedical) shared with me. Go to the chin-up bar and hang free for 10-15 seconds at a time. This decompresses the shoulder area where the impingement occurs. Relief is significant from this movement and it should be done between each set of bench or any direct deltoid work. John Parrillo has always stressed the importance of stretching between sets, but this is another great reason to stretch. Shoulder health is vital to the lifter. Flexibility is the key to shoulder health over the long haul; stretching in this fashion is important to your fitness endeavor.
Another trouble area for the lifter is knee pain. Again, poor form is a big culprit that causes undue stress and pain to occur in the knees. Many have nagging injuries from sports or accidents, but with proper rehab, most of the issues can be overcome. People have a tendency to lack patience for proper rehab, but it is worth the time to do it right and heal completely. We deal with knee pain, especially as older athletes because we do not get proper nutrition for joint health. EFA’s are vital to keeping joints mobile and lubricated. But it takes specific foods or supplements to make sure that enough EFA is in the diet. As an older athlete, I recommend taking 6-10 grams of Parrillo Evening Primrose Oil 1000™ or Parrillo Fish Oil DHA 800 EPA 200™ every day. This keeps my joints healthy and always healing. It certainly helps with my chronic knee pain from a reconstruction as well. This alone may clear up a lot of nagging joint pain. As an added bit of protection and healing, Parrillo Performance Joint Formula™ is a staple in my supplement line-up. This helps with inflammation and with general joint health and repair. I cannot stress enough the importance of stretching between sets here either. Stretching is a vital component to general flexibility. This is fundamental to joint health and strength.
One cannot have a conversation about joint pain and flexibility without talking about elbows. This joint is known for nagging and chronic pain. This is one, unfortunately, often just needs sheer rest and ice. Switch to just legs and abdominal training for 2 weeks. Let the joint rest. The joint is always in use, so make an effort to keep it isolated as much as you can. You will not lose anything if you keep up the nutrition and blast the legs (3 times per week, if you like). I have done this and it works very well. I went nearly 4 months with almost no upper body training as I rehabbed my rotator cuff. The gains acquired were strong and my legs really exploded.
In my experience, which has been riddled with injury over the last 35 years, these are the best remedies I have found. If you have some things that work for you, try to incorporate my suggestions. I hope this is helpful to many. No one needs to miss the gym because of a nagging injury. Where there is a will, there is a way!
Until next month