Strength: noun. the ability to overcome.

On Kettlebell Workouts And Pain…

by GEOFFN on December 8

A buddy of mine sent me an email the other day and asked me how I coped with pain and still manage to do my  kettlebell workouts. He’s had some serious setbacks since September and was feeling discouraged.

So I thought I’d write a little bit about it today.

It’s funny – because I honestly haven’t felt too much pain anywhere in the last year – and more imporantly, I’ve felt so good I  haven’t focused on pain in any way shape or form. Occasionally when it does rear it’s head – it’s minimally prohibiting and 9.9 times out of 10 I can make it go away and do whatever I want.

It hasn’t always been so.

From 2002 to the end of 2009, I’d been focused on getting out of and avoiding pain.

What am I doing differently now?

Well, I had spent some time doing FMS correctives, and they worked pretty well. I liked them. Challenging. Fun.

Then I started making my own stuff up based on the FMS correctives I learned and some other stuff. (The reality is, I probably am just “re-inventing” something someone else has done…)

And then I started focusing on performance.

What could I do on any given day? And then I started thinking “Screw that – I should be able to do whatever I want on any given day!” And so I’ve been focused on that.

And that’s how I think we should view our kettlebell workouts – or any training for that matter.

We should get out bodies to the place where we can do anything we want to do at any given time. (I’ve been doing some tumbling and rolling lately and ran the stadium stairs on Sunday for the first time in 8 years – because I wanted to.)

How do we do that?

  1. If you’re in pain, go see a doc and get cleared medically. If things still don’t seem right, go see a specialist. Health first, then performance.
  2. Do the best you can not to train in painful movements. Don’t confuse discomfort with pain. Pain is throbbing, sharp and achey. Discomfort is not.
  3. Train in areas that you can move freely in and are fun and enjoyable.
  4. If you are restricted and have been cleared by your doc, go see someone like an FMS practitioner who will actually measure your movement capabilites and give a reference point – a starting point from which to work. Schedule follow up visits every 30 days to assess your progress.
  5. Do physical activity that is fun. (Did I mention that already?)
  6. Learn fun (that word again) and new physical skills. (I’m going to start investigating Grip Training)
  7. Keep a positive attitude – it’s not always going to be this way – it’ll get better. A positive attitude will actually help the process along.

Realize that whether you like it or not, you’ve “earned” the body you’re in right now. It may take you some time to get around your pain and movement dysfunction, but view it as a learning experience. I did. My understanding of the human body, coaching, and business have all flourished because of my “pain.” I’m thankful for having walked that path because it made me a better man.

Finally, don’t own your pain.

It’s not a part of you.

Not really.

It’s just an indicator – kinda like the “check engine” light – it’s there when you need it. Don’t look for it to always be on. Take care of the issues and it’ll most likely rarely come on again.

If you’ve still got some pain and have been cleared by your doc – a good place to start changing your movement patterns is with an Functional Movement Screen. If you don’t have access to an FMS practioner, start with Brett Jones and Gray Cook’s “Secrets of…” series – especially “Secrets of Primitive Patterns.” It’s probably the MOST UNDERATED  and highly beneficial DVD they have, in my ever-so-humble opinion.

If that doesn’t sound good to you, another great place to start is with Kettlebells From the Ground Up. It’s packed with what I call “safe movements” (another blog post) and everybody I know who’s used it, including myself, has benefited from it.

That’s all I’ve got time for right now – I’ve gotta go off and train. Fun and pain free.

Hopefully you’ve found some of these ideas helpful.

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