Be thankful that most of you reading this aren’t fortunate enough to know me in real life, or have real life contact with me. Because if you had, for the last year or so, you would have realised discussing my injured shoulder accounted for probably 50% (likely more) of every conversation I’ve had!
I’ve even took to writing on here about it on a few occasions; with one post looking at the suggested approach one should take when they have an injury – in terms of training modifications and recovery techniques (Tips On Dealing With Injuries Or Suspected Injuries).
And there were a few shares of good moves that I found offered some relief, at least temporarily. Namely shoulder dislocates and skin the cats – both exercises which take the shoulder through maximal flexion and extension. (One Move For Healthier Shoulders/ANOTHER Move For Healthier Shoulders)
While I still completely agree with the advice and musings on the subject today, there’s one thing I only recently discovered which changed my injury and understanding of injuries once and for all………..
Having an explanation for why the injury is there for the first place; what’s actually wrong?
Knowledge is power. Answers bring closure. During the last year I sought advice from people across the board; fellow trainers, websites, forums, people with physio backgrounds and just about anyone who knew a thing about the body and exercise. No opinion was considered unworthy.
The problem with wide spectrums of ideas is they become overwhelming and you’re overloaded with information. Nothing is definitive and you’re left as unsure as you were before you asked anyone.
I suspected issues such as scapula winging on one side and shoulder impingement. Tight pec minor and weak external rotators were also suggested by peers. I had my suspicions but wasn’t truly confident enough to make a diagnosis in my own head.
The Almost Magic Fix
Being the sensible young man I am, I gave up training any moves that caused shoulder pain, if even only slight pain. So imagine my surprise waking up the other morning with very bad pain in the shoulder. I hadn’t done anything. Maybe I slept funny? Whatever the case, I was pissed. This hurt…..and hurt all day.
In dire straits, I somehow got the idea to start searching everything I could about shoulder impingement. From YouTube videos to detailed internet articles, every self-diagnosis test I tried suggested my initial suspicions were correct.
‘It must be that! If the shoulder is already too internally-rotated, then of course there will be no room for more internal rotation’, I thought.
No Joke. No BS. No Magic. It’s ALL In The Head!
The epiphany I had was astounding: just how big a role does psychology play in injury and injury correction; or more importantly, pain relief/freedom from pain and suffering?
I know of a few people who have experienced unexplained injury symptoms which they believe are related to psychological issues. Things like emotional pain manifesting as physical pain….but unless you experience it personally, it’s just to easy to discredit.
Now this was a genuine injury I picked up from doing exercises too advanced for my level at the time (jackass!), but having sat back and observed the situation, I really think I trapped myself in the pain simply by being desperate for an answer, and an answer I truly believed.
Having run the tests there was no doubt in my mind it was impingement. There wasn’t a millimetre of space left in my brain for anything else. I felt free by having an answer and as if by magic, I’m completely pain free!
They say what you tell yourself is most important and I’ve been telling myself all I need is more external rotation and retraction at the shoulder, then I’ll be OK. Of course, we can tell ourselves whatever we like, it doesn’t mean we truly believe it. I can tell myself I’m the most attractive man alive but I won’t truly believe it to where I’m walking around acting like I am.
You have to truly believe what you tell yourself in order to benefit from psychological freedom. And just incase anyone is reading this with their face washed in scepticism, let me share a quick story that will really hammer home the truth of this marvellous incident.
Just yesterday (Monday the 21st of August) I went and done a calisthenics small group workshop hosted by Lee Wade Turner, in Kennington Park, South London. One of the moves we worked on are the infamous ring chest flyes. It was performing these flyes over a year ago and going to low/deep that caused my shoulder to never feel right until now…….so imagine my nerves when we were told these were next on the list………
Example of a perfect straight arm ring fly on the toes
“I’ll try one rep and see how it feels”, I said nervously. I went down and came back up. No pain at all. Even after the DOMS of yesterday I still feel fine and have a pain free right shoulder. I hadn’t been able to do dips or push ups prior to these pain free, and now I was doing one of the riskiest moves out there for those with dodgy shoulders.
A miracle you might say? Not quite. More an illustration of the mind’s power over our situation(s). By having an answer I took the pressure of myself and simplified the problem, and by doing so it cannot hurt me like it once did.
Now I want to know what you made of this. Mumbo jumbo? Experienced something similar? Struggling with an injury at present? Get in touch down below in the comments.
Thanks for reading. P.S. For proof of my new found ability yesterday, check out the clip below of me messing around trying a full back lever with Lee’s support from yesterday. I hadn’t tried one in months.
The 'brains' behind StraightTalkingFitness, a site all about discovery that leads to strength in all formats; fitness, mental, emotional and spiritual. Everything starts from within and projects outwards. Master the body, master anything and everything.