When it’s time to work around the pain

How do you decide what body part to work?

There are five-day splits, three-day splits, two-day splits and more.  Leg days, arm days, upper and lower days…What the heck are you supposed to do?

Well, at our age…we do have to be selective!

Quite honestly, one way to determine what to workout is to determine what isn’t hurting.  Having grown up in an era when we were told to “suck it up” and stop complaining about pain, we’re now learning that our bodies are paying for those bad decisions in a big way.

I can remember vividly when I went skiing down a blue run and hit a tree stump.  It spun me around and left me belly-up to the ski hill.  My skis didn’t pop off like they were supposed to.  I limped around for days; but back then, you just pushed on.  Soon enough, I felt fine.  That is, until I got older.  Now, when my left knee is killing me, I remember that specific accident as if it was yesterday.  A lot of good “pushing through the pain” did me!

So these days, when my knee is aching, I don’t work my legs.  I give them the rest they need.   Soon enough, the aching subsides and I can work them back into my routine.

Our bodies are amazing machines!  You should get to know yours.  Pay attention to the aches and pains, and work around them.  Be enthusiastic about how to create new movements to enhance your very specific body.

Not knowing your past adventures and accidents, I can’t recommend specifics; but I do know that you can learn your body.  If lunges hurt, alter them until they don’t.  Take a shorter step, or don’t go so low.  If push-ups kill your shoulders, my friend, don’t do them. Find a better movement. Push-ups off of a wall or very light cable flies will work your chest just as well. Just find the burn! Light weight and a high rep count will work your muscles just as well as the more common version of a particular exercise.

Here are some alternate movements that just might make your workout more rewarding and less painful on specific areas.

If your shoulders are hurting, work your back.  Keep your elbows low, and focus on pulling from your back in exercises like one-arm rows.  Lat pull-downs may even make your shoulders feel better.

In your mind, imagine working around what hurts. You will bring blood flow to the hurting area and work the opposing muscle.  Remember that “movement heals.”  So when you find yourself complaining and whining, don’t stop your exercise; just figure out what will work.

Low back pain is a common one.  If you sit at a desk all day, or stand on your feet all day, you might have that annoying low back pain.  Start with pulling your belly button up to your spine when you are sitting and standing.  Just being aware of your posture will help you.  Sit tall, stand tall and “use your height.”  A weak core is the real culprit here.  Do sit-ups with your feet at “table top.” Lie on the floor and put your feet on the couch. Your legs will be at a right angle. Squeeze your knees together while you perform your crunches in this position. This activates all of your centering muscles.  If this movement proves to be difficult, guess what?  You’re doing it right!

The main thing I want you to remember is this: “When you’re hurting, keep moving.”  Aches and pains affect us all at one level or another. There is no excuse to be sedentary.  None.  Get up, get moving and heal your body!

Chani Overstreet is an NASM Certified Personal Trainer and co-owner of Strada Fitness & Wellness Center with her husband, Luke. Strada is a state-of-the-art fitness studio located at 3041 Churchill Drive, Suite 100, in Flower Mound, across from Lifetime Fitness. Call 972.330.4300 or visit www.StradaFitness.com for more information.



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