Injuries are a part of life, especially for those leading very active lifestyles. Injuries and bodybuilding seem to go hand in hand, a simple google search provides 1,970,000 search results for the keywords combined, which should be a clear sign that it can be a dangerous sport. I have certainly been injured, and am injured, and these injuries get me down. I tend to really freak out when I feel an abnormal amount of pain after a workout that is far from the usual pain of DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). So what do we do when we get injured? One option is giving up bodybuilding temporarily, but this is an unhappy choice.
A few months ago I seriously injured the lower left side of my back doing squats on a smith machine. I had heard about how dangerous this was, but my gym did not have any other options for weighted squats, so I took my chances. It was an unusual day, because this usually empty workplace gym actually had someone who was doing their entire workout on the smith machine. I waited, and went through my entire hour long workout and she was still not done with the smith machine. So I alternated with her, and she was doing dead lifts. I am not sure if I injured my back on my squats, or lifting part of her dead lift weight back up to start my squats. Either way, my back is still painful five months later. I have temporarily fixed it with massage therapy, but it needs a lot more work. I was working around this injury, avoiding squats and dead lifts, and other exercises I wasn’t confident with. I recently started doing squats again and it has become slightly more painful as a result.
Last Thursday, I was doing my regular workout and I injured the middle of my back, in between my shoulder blades. I presume it was from the wide-grip lateral pulldowns, since when I complete this motion weightless, I feel a lot of pain. During the workout, I did not feel any pain, I felt nothing out of the ordinary. I did not even notice any back pain until two hours after I finished my workout, and the exercises that caused the pain were my second and third of the day! I skipped the gym and cardio on Friday and Saturday to give it a rest, and did only cardio on Sunday. I went back to my usual Chest/Tricep workout today and noticed something truly terrifying: I was a lot weaker than last week. Last week I was benching 65 pounds, 4 sets of 12. This week 6 reps was a serious struggle, and I was significantly weaker on the right side, almost dropping the bar. This, and a few similarly terrifying examples showed me that I clearly injured my back worse than I thought, and that it is more injured on the right side, which failed much faster in a few exercises.
Needless to say, I am seriously concerned about this injury. I have 6 massage therapy appointments booked over the next month, which I am hoping will help work out the injury. If not, I will have to start to visit a physiotherapist. Since I am still determined to get back into shape and live a healthy lifestyle, I am going to try to train around my injuries. I will likely remove all back exercises from my workouts, as well as squats. I have been looking into training around injuries and I found this excellent article on bodybuilding.com. I will definitely be reducing my weights and upping my reps, as this seems like a logical thing to do. I may also add more cardio, and focus more on burning fat rather than building muscle. It is definitely better to take things slowly rather than continue to train hard and end up unable to train for months. I am going to watch my injuries closely and see if they start to subside. Tomorrow is my first massage therapy appointment, and I will be checking with her to see if she suggests going to physio. Fingers crossed that things will get back to normal again soon!