TUCSON PERSONAL TRAINING CENTER

How Do I Get Rid Of My Pain?!? Tucson Personal Training Group Fitness Blog

Personal Training in Tucson - The Protocol Strength & Conditioning, Llc

Greetings!

The world of health, fitness, and wellness is diverse and multi-faceted. We try to stay active, eat right, get plenty of sleep, manage stress, take our vitamins, brush and floss, not drink too much, etc., etc., etc…

MarkToomey-263x263

Mark Toomey //
United States Marine Corps

Often times there are so many things we know we should be doing to maintain our bodies, that it’s overwhelming to squeeze it all into our busy lives without going insane. There are other times when we experience fairly serious pain, and are not sure where to turn for advice. Last year, I got to hear a presentation from Mark Toomey, who serves as an SME (subject matter expert) for the Marine Corps and is also a very well-known instructor in the kettlebell community. In his presentation, he describes the current state of our medical establishment. In his estimation, what is missing is an SME similar to what the military has. In our current system, we the consumer, can self-refer ourselves in any direction we see fit. In other words, WE have to decide how to go about finding a solution to our own pain. However, most of us are not experts in this field, so what do we do?

Let’s take a simple example: Say you are having back pain. This back pain is bad enough to where you decide to do something about it. So you start talking to some people…

The yoga teacher tells you, “You’re very stiff. If you did my yoga program, your back pain would be gone!”

The personal trainer tells you, “That stupid yoga hippie doesn’t know what she’s talking about! You’re back is very weak. If you followed my strength training program, your back pain would be gone.”

The chiropractor tells you, “That knuckle-dragging personal trainer is clueless! All you need is to see me for regular adjustments and all your back pain would be gone.”

The physical therapist says, “That chiropractor is a quack! Your back is seriously messed up. If you want relief, working with a skilled PT is the way to go.”

The back surgeon says, “PT is great… after I’m done with you. Slicing in there to correct the actual problem is the only option. You see, I went to Harvard Medical School. I’m the only REAL expert here.”

The primary care physician says, “I have no clue why your back hurts. Here, take these pills, you won’t feel a thing once they kick in!”

And the acupuncturist says, “All western medicine is crap. Just let me stick these needles in you, then all your back pain will melt away.”

I hope you had a little chuckle reading that and didn’t take it too seriously… and I hope I didn’t just alienate all my dear friends in these professions. But there is some truth here, right? We have this ability in our current system to self-refer ourselves into any direction we think is right for us… there is no SME.

backpainSo what option do you go with? The cheapest? The one that your insurance pays for? I happen to be of the opinion that when it comes to your body, one of the few things God gave you that is irreplaceable, making a decision based on cost is pretty dumb.

But how cool would it be to have someone who can, at least, get you started in the right direction? Over the course of my career, I have worked hard to connect myself into this community of experts. I rely on them for their opinions when something comes into my gym that is above my pay grade. Now I’m not trying to tell you that I’m a true SME. I tend to be biased towards holistic answers over medical ones. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I do not trust anyone who profits from my sickness to be in charge of my wellness. But, in my estimation, that was the take-away message from Mark’s talk that day: Work WITH the professionals, instead of against them, and the service you provide to people will improve by leaps and bounds. This message really resonated with me because in my early days as a trainer, I had a “me vs. them” attitude and, in hindsight, it really hindered my ability to help people.

Although, I tend to find better answers through holistic/therapeutic approaches, we must also acknowledge the fact that modern medicine has done some wonderful things for us. If the pain/trouble you are having is very serious, a medical intervention may be necessary no matter how much you try to minimize it in your mind. This may not necessarily mean to instantly go talk to a surgeon, but having a doctor check it out can be a good place to start. I’ve had folks come in looking for a personal trainer while having an “8” shoulder pain on a 1-10 scale. This may spell trouble… and that trouble could be even worse if this person went somewhere and spoke to an inexperienced trainer. In many instances where I’ve seen things go horribly wrong, it usually involved someone reaching for a band-aid to treat their skin cancer. Don’t be that guy…

However, many minor aches and pains, say a 5 or less, can sometimes be resolved through simple physical movements. Personally, I like to start with a little soft tissue work. I’ve seen many clients get themselves out of a significant amount of pain through daily doses of foam rolling and working with the lacrosse ball. “The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook” by Claire Davies and “The Roll Model” by Jill Miller are great resources. We also offer a clinic called “Restoring Lost Mobility” on how to better familiarize yourself with the basics of foam rolling and soft-tissue release. Please email us for more info. If you are outside of southern Arizona and have a small group interested in this workshop, please let us know and we can bring this workshop to you.

IMG_8247My next step in the process is to determine if one has baseline levels of general strength. This becomes more of a priority for folks who are gifted with good natural flexibility/mobility. This may not seem like a component of relieving pain, but I assure you that it is. This conversation is very near and dear to me, because I’m one of these people. I was always that stereotypically un-athletic Jewish kid who used to strike out in kickball (ha ha!). My fondest childhood memories involve a high school gym class where I couldn’t bench the empty bar and got made fun of. But despite all of this, I was still pretty flexible. If one were to type “How do I get rid of my back pain?” into the Google search bar, virtually all the answers that come back recommending some form of stretching. For those with the mobility gift, this becomes a curse… you’re already too stretchy!

Despite having great mobility, my lower back pain was not completely resolved until I learned how to deadlift properly. Some of you reading this who have back pain think I’m nuts… I thought the same thing. “Isn’t deadlifting bad for your back?” No. Sitting all day is bad for your back… and having a weak back is REALLY bad for your back. It’s a scary journey at the start, but let’s settle this once and for all:

IMG_8249We never stop deadlifting. Never.

In other words, until the day we are either dead or in 24-hour assisted care, we never stop bending over and picking things up off the floor.

Now that we’ve all agreed this is a movement we never stop doing, let’s also agree that it’s probably worth learning how to do correctly. Mark Reifkind tells us that, “Strength fixes almost anything.” I completely agree. I can’t count the number of times I’ve seen people with back pain innocently reach down for something with very poor movement mechanics. I suppose my back would also hurt if I reached down like that all the time.

If you’ve run the gamut of soft tissue work, active mobility, chiropractic care, massage, acupuncture, have a solid baseline level of strength, etc., and you’re still experiencing pain, at this point I wouldn’t fault you for pursuing more serious medical interventions. When you have heartburn, you don’t schedule a consultation for a heart transplant. But when you need a heart transplant, you don’t reach for the antacids. I realize this may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how much of this I see in my line of work.

As one progresses through their strength journey, there may be roadblocks. So, it’s always good to have professionals in your life that you can rely on for help. And it’s ok to ask lots of questions to find those ‘right’ people to have in your corner.

Until next time,

Jerry Trubman

Jerry Trubman is the owner and founder of The Protocol Strength & Conditioning,
a facility and coaching program specializing in teaching people how to move better
and be stronger. With over a decade of experience in a fitness world filled with
nonsense and contradiction, Jerry has devoted himself to seeking out better answers,
and distilling those answers into practical programs that produce great results.
He writes “The Healthy Addiction” which has thousands of readers all over the world.




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