Why it's important to listen to your body
Today I was reminded of a valuable lesson: listen to your body!
At the moment, I am training four times per week rotating through a programme concentrating on legs and biceps, chest and triceps, back and shoulders, and finally, metabolic conditioning. Although I am constantly changing and developing my own personal training programme, I have been training at this level for over 14 years.
Today was back and shoulders.
Halfway through the dead lift section of my training session, I started to feel a minor pull in my right QL (quadratus lumborum or lower back). I carried on with my set, determined to push out the remaining reps.
Needless to say that this was not the best decision I made today. At least I didn't carry on and finish the last two sets I had planned!
Whilst this is only a mild strain, it could obviously have been much worse. Correct technique coupled with my regular training on core, back and glutes means that I have a strong foundation and can weather minor strains more efficiently than novice or less experienced trainers. I can also target the area with rehabilitation techniques and restorative stretches which will help strengthen the area so that I can continue to train for the rest of the week. And perhaps even get in that round of golf I was planning tomorrow!
For those new to training there are three key points to remember when in the gym:
Work to form failure: form is king. If you can't maintain form, increase your rest time, decrease reps, sets and/or weight or move on to your next exercise. Continuing with poor form not only increases your likelihood of injury, but any injury you do sustain will almost certainly be substantially worse.
Don't chase numbers. It's tempting to try to lift more weight or push out more reps or sets than your body is capable of, especially in the beginning of any new training programme. This is not only putting your form and therefore your overall wellbeing in danger, but it will also almost always mean that you will take longer to reach your training goals. Finding the balance between pushing your body hard enough to instigate the change in your physique that you are striving for and maintaining form can be difficult. The right PT can help with this, but if you don't have one remember to push yourself as hard as you can without sacrificing form.
Listen to your body! If you feel a slight pull anywhere or pain in any form whilst training, STOP. I was fortunate today and can honestly say that I have never done myself any serious harm in the gym, but I have seen first hand what poor technique can do. Some of my clients came to me with terrible technique which resulted in injuries that took months to heal.
So for me, my initial failure to listen to my body will result in a couple of days of rehab consisting of light stretches and mobilisation exercises. In future posts, I'll be blogging about correct technique and back rehab so if these are areas that you are concerned about, please subscribe to my blog. Also, if there is an exercise that you would like to see demonstrated, please let me know.