Pain v. Performance: An Interesting Paradox

Just got back from training where I experienced some very interesting results.

I am programming my Olympic lifting training back in.

Yesterday I snatched lightly and performed a snatch-based chain.

Today, I performed Presses and barbell FSQs.

Neither day was anything to write home about performance-wise. But both days felt “interesting.” I felt more solid – more grounded than I have in a very long time. The last 6 weeks paid off apparently. But as I said, nothing special in the gym except this:

Pain inhibits performance.

Today, it didn’t.

When working back into barbell FSQs, the pressure in my elbows is less than comfortable. I’m able to block it out while under the bar, but afterward, it’s, well, painful.

Knowing this, I tested various ranges of motion: unilateral shoulder flexion, both arms, and then the torso flexion with locked knees. Both tested better after each successive set of FSQs. Except for the last one, where my gut was telling me not to do it, but I did it anyway. (You’d think I’d learn…)

What does this mean?

I have no idea.

Really, I don’t care to either. I’m just going to note it and move on.

I guess sometimes theory is just theory.

We’ll see how this holds up day-to-day and with a substantial increase in load. Of course I will be testing everything each training session and reporting back.

3 comments… add one
  • Russ Moon Jan 5, 2010 @ 8:18

    December payoff

    Beast Press – reps left arm 1 up to 5
    reps rt arm 3 to up to 5 without going to failure or pain

    HIT Squats as a test in smith rack for safety and vertical motion
    5 reps down to bench set at just below parallel with 410 PB since shoulder surgery, since surgery shoulder would not rotate fully down and back to support the bar without immense pain so I avoided it. Pain like that = setback in training

    Dual KB Snatches – 10 x 10 w 24 kg in 34 minutes could not have imagined that a month ago, sucked some air, didn’t go to failure trying to remember not to do that. I now associate failure with imperfect form and imperfect form with potential for injury and setback.

    Taking a functional movement test today with a guy trained by Pavel to see where my muscles are not firing properly…your influence Geoff.
    I realize now at a deeper level that if all the muscles are not firing properly then it is not possible to unleash all the strength I am capable of generating. So I owe that to reading about your lunge work on your hip. TGU showed me some areas, ironically the same ones identified by massage therapist just by touching the muscles and feeling where the tension was….without me telling him.

  • GEOFFN Jan 6, 2010 @ 12:27

    Russ – Looks great!

    You’re kicking butt! Glad to see that not only are you making progress but you are achieving “a-ha” moments.

    “I now associate failure with imperfect form and imperfect form with potential for injury and setback.”

    This is a GREAT revelation – if more people got this, they’d have more results. In fact, if we learned this sooner, we’d probably much further along then we are now, huh?

    Keep up your smart work.

  • Mike T Nelson Jan 15, 2010 @ 12:10

    Hi there Geoff! Thanks for the updates here and I am interested to see how it goes.

    I do think that most times pain does inhibit performance and is associated with a much higher cost.

    For competitive athletes, there are times that this cost is part of the game. For most who are not getting paid to perform, I would like to see them keep the cost low.

    The brain is associative and at its simplest level, if you move in pain, you are teaching your brain that movement is painful.

    I would like my brain to learn that movement is NOT painful and this approach is the same to be used with athletes in pain.

    Unfortunately, this is rarely talked about anywhere.

    I have some other thoughts for you too.

    Rock on
    Mike T Nelson PhD(c)

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