When it comes to injury, it's common to think single movements get you hurt.
"Deadlifts and kettlebell swings will hurt your back."
"Sprinting gives you shin splints."
"Pullups lead to shoulder problems"
Instead, I invite you to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. It's probably not an isolated movement, but a series of factors. The thing that caused you pain was probably an indicator, not the cause.
It's not the tequila
Let's say you go out drinking. You drink a beer to start and feel fine. You drink 3 cocktails from happy hour and you feel pretty drunk. You take 1 shot of tequila and black out. The next morning, you vow to never drink tequila again. In reality, it wasn't the tequila, it was all the alcohol added up.
Saying you hurt your back because of deadlifts is like saying tequila makes you black out. There's more going on during the day than just the exercise you performed, and those factors matter.
Load vs Capacity.
Let's say your capacity is a bucket. Everything inside the bucket means no problem. Anything that overflows that bucket is a problem.
Factors that influence your capacity:
These are all previous existing loads- meaning these things happen before the day even starts.
1. Anatomical Deficiencies or Dysfunctions
This is any part of your body that isn't the way it should be or that you would like it to be. Maybe it's a herniated disc or a torn ACL. It could be previous surgery or a bone/joint shaped differently that prevents you from moving how you want to. You can't change these, but it's a huge factor in your capacity.
2. Recovery (Stress, diet, and sleep)
Does the state of your recovery support your training or make it worse? Are you getting enough quality sleep? Are you getting enough quality nutrients? Is it busy season at work and you're working overtime? Did you have a heated argument with your partner?
These factors are monumental in judging your capacity. Without proper diet, sleep, and managed stress, your body can't recover from the previous day, making it easier to experience pain during training. The great thing is you have control. Improve your recovery, improve your resilience.
3. Functional Diagnosis
What's your range of motion? What positions can you get into safely? How well can you do the movements? Is one side stronger than another?
This is something proper coaching and training can help with.
Consider this: A Squat Example
During squats, you get pain on your left knee, but it never hurts your right side. It's easy to think you have a "bad" knee. But it's a possibility that your left knee is significantly stronger than your right, and your left knee compensates for the weakness. Because your body favors the strong side, it works harder and takes 30% more load. In this case, it's not squats that hurt your knee. It's a strength imbalance.
The Day's Loads:
Remember, everything above was before the day even started. You woke up like that. Everything else you do in the day adds to the load bucket and this is where we get closer to capacity.
Work at a desk for 6-8 hours? Shift worker with 12 hour night shifts? These 6-12 work hours are a big load in your system.
Training adds a ton of load to our system, but we do it to increase our capacity over time. We recover from training, grow, and repeat.
I hope this helps you understand injuries and how they happen! It's probably not just one movement in isolation, it's about the bigger picture. When the load in life exceeds your capacity, you experience pain. Load under capacity = no pain.
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