Invincible: (adjective) too powerful to be defeated or overcome
How great would it be if we were invincible? I mean, the things we could do and put our body through to achieve ultimate physical supremacy would just be incredible. Unfortunately for us, this just isn't the case even though in our Heyday (some of you I'm sure are enjoying this time of your life) we certainly did feel this way and figured we could pretty much do anything and abuse our body any time we wanted to and walk away unscathed. The fact of the matter though is that all of that wear and tear from the daily banging with the weights will add up and set your joints on fire if you're not careful in your approach. More often than not, a bad joint, whether it be an elbow, a shoulder or a knee, puts an end to an otherwise stellar lifting career and most times it's just due to the fact that the person experiencing the pain loved training hardcore and heavy with no real regard for keeping joint health a priority (which by the way can be easy to do because these things tend to flare up out of nowhere). To help you in your proactive approach to joint health and your prevention of unwanted injury, here are a two very important training tips that should prolong your lifting endeavours.
Unless you are a Powerlifter or Olympic Weightlifter, there's really no need to lock out your joints on any given movement. The reason I say this is because at full extension of a joint, the amount of stress that is placed upon that area when added weight or resistance is involved is just too much for the joint to handle over time; especially if it is a repetitive occurrence. Most will tell you that locking out is the best way to initiate the peak contraction of a muscle. I say that's not true and the better you get at the mind/muscle connection the easier it will be to initiate peak contractions without having to fully lockout. Of all the exercises where locking out a joint has the most potential to create harm, nothing beats the flat bench press in this regard. More people have told me that this exercise was the catalyst for their shoulder, elbow or wrist pain and it was all because they always focused on locking out on this movement. So the moral of the story is for all of your pressing movements, always stop just shy of lockout to save your joints and flex the muscle at that point to ensure peak contraction occurs.
Train Around Pain, Not Through It
I have a newsflash here for you; you're not hardcore because you ignore pain and continue to train right through it, you're foolish for doing so. If you think that training through whatever joint pain you're currently experience will magically make it go away and disappear forever and never return, you've got a few things to learn and figure out. Pain is your body's way of telling you something isn't right and that you must address the problem to make it better. In addressing the issue, what you have to do to keep yourself in the gym and growing is train around that pain instead. Find exercises that don't trigger pain or additional pain so that you can still workout at a level that is acceptable to you. This means avoiding certain movements that you know have contributed to your problem and maybe even abandoning them forever. As you do this, take advantage of all of the great therapies that are out there to help you heal and do yourself a huge favour and let yourself heal! Check your ego at the gym door and don't think because you can't use your once "go to" exercises anymore that you can't keep growing. Be intelligent, train around that pain and keep yourself in the game.
If you love training as much as I do, then you want to be in the gym as much as possible and for as long as possible. I hate it when something breaks and it keeps me away from the gym; it sucks. There are times when this happens despite our best efforts, but we have to do all that we can in the meantime to be smart and be healthy so that we can keep training and joint health plays a major role in that for us. As much as we'd like to think we are actually invincible, the only thing invincible about us is the pair of Triple Black Super Shifts we have on our feet and I guess that's better than nothing.
Author: Dana Bushell
AST Sports Science sponsored athlete/writer, sponsored by Schiek Sports Inc.