Do you heal or harm yourself?

By April 4, 2014Exercise

Note: If you think this article may be a trigger for you to harm yourself, please click this link instead for someone to talk to confidentially about it. You can also click here for alternative methods of coping with stress.

You Harm Yourself, but What do you Learn?

“It is always by way of pain that one arrives at pleasure.”–Marquis de Sade

You could harm yourself like this man, but would you pay attention to what you learned?

Maybe he is right. Maybe the duality makes you aware that the opposite of what is hurting you is helping you. Like a yin and yang sort of thing.

From first hand experience that the pleasure of resolving your pain is wonderful. To be able to have full range of motion back, and be a whole person again is truly a wonderful thing. I am fairly certain everyone gets hurt to a degree–maybe you got into a car wreck, or maybe you stubbed your toe. I don’t wish any of those things on anyone, but it’s life.


I would like to now pose some questions to you:

  • Do you follow a written program that someone made for you?
  • Have you hurt yourself, and found yourself in an endless cycle of fuckedupitude?
  • How did you handle it?

If you answered yes to the first to the first two questions, you are like most lifters I encounter. In which case, you probably answered number three with one or all of the following: Massage therapists, acupuncture, chiropractors, pilates, static stretching, yoga, endless foam rolling, joint mobility, mobility WODS, “active recovery,” etc.

I don’t have a problem with these things, in and of themselves. They can all be tested. I think your path to pain resolution will be quicker if you do test them.

Here’s something else to think about that Frankie wrote:

Movement puts people in pain so movement can take them out of it…As people have been testing their big movements (macromovement or MM) they are finding out that tested movement is correlated with pain relief…Big movements put people in pain…shouldn’t big movements be able to take people out of pain…and isn’t that more specific, anyway?

Yes, Frankie, it certainly is.

Here’s the catch for those of you who aren’t testing your shit yet. Doing the same shit that fucked you up the same exact way it fucked you up might well fuck you up again. Form follows function, and if your form injured you, temporary crippling might be your function. Another question: would you rather compete and get hurt, or get hurt and miss the chance to compete?

I would rather compete and not get hurt, but I definitely don’t want to get hurt in training. If you suffer from pain related to lifting, here are a few things you can question to start with: your form, your load, your speed, your frequency.

If you got injured doing what you thought was a text book deadlift, you might want to write your own fucking text book. Something I am noticing in a lot of people–myself included–is that split stances tend to test well. A Jefferson deadlift might be worth testing for a starting point.

Are you going balls to the wall heavy all the time? If it is hurting you, back off the weight. That’s pretty simple. If you fight, or grapple, lay off the intensity.

Speed is relatively important, but if you go too fast too early, you can get fucked up. In learning a skill, start slow, get faster, refine the skill. This works for martial arts skills, strength sports, music, art and so on. If you are finding new forms for your movements, take your time. Remember, the goal is to get out of pain.

If doing an activity as often as you do leaves you feeling wrecked, do it less, focus on the previously mentioned stuff, before you know it you will be doing all the things you want to do very frequently.
Hopefully the relief you feel exceeds your pain.
Depending on the nature of your ailment, you might have to change a lot, or change a little. The key is to focus on the specific nature of your goals. If nothing in that regard tests well, you might be glad of that later on.

In the greatest effort to move what isn’t moving, try something else. Jiu Jitsu and Jefferson deadlifts did a world for my pain relief. A client also relieved a lot of pain with a deadlift variant by keeping an open mind (by her own admission, testing one armed deadlifts with a kettlebell and doing them did more for her than a year of massages following a car accident). You don’t have to grapple. I chose it because Frankie and Adam do it and it was the first thing I thought about doing when I was searching for new shit to do. Try swimming, or skating or some shit.

The take home point is as follows: your body isn’t your enemy, so work with it and not against it. I will leave with a question: does being an athlete mean you are destined for a life of pain due to intense dedication to your sport?

About Peter Baker

In addition to being a fan of music and heavy metal, I am an avid player of table top RPGs, and I am a personal trainer in Tampa, FL as well as a graduate of the prestigious University of South Florida. Formerly, I was a prefect for House Slytherin.

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