Using Corrective Exercise to Overcome an Injury

A great article for you today.

It is a guest blog post from Nick Rosencutter.

Enjoy.

Take it away, Nick.

Injuries are no fun.

They are a pain, literally.

They can stop you from doing something you love.

They can cause nagging aches and pains.

They can affect you mentally.

They can ruin your day.

They are something that most people try to avoid.

On the other hand, they can also be a blessing in disguise. This is something that I have realized first hand.

The Rush of Training

I absolutely love training, especially powerlifting. I love the thrill and rush of stepping on the platform to compete. I love pushing my body past limits and growing stronger both physically and mentally when I push past barriers with my training. I love being in great shape and moving weights that most people can only wish to move. I’ve loved training (notice I said training and not “working out”) for over 12 years without a break (which really isn’t that much and I still have a long way to go).

When I’m not training, I’m helping others train, reading about training or dreaming about training. The deadlift happens to be my ace and pretty much my favorite thing to do in the world. In my opinion, there is absolutely no better feeling than locking out a heavy deadlift as you feel every muscle in your body tighten up to make it happen.

The hip drive, grip strain, the glutes coming through, the back locking out, the traps stabilizing, the intrinsic foot muscles gripping the floor, the blood rushing through the veins and the rush that flows through the body and mind; just an amazing feeling that only certain people will understand. Not being able to do this for a period of time was devastating.

Great little video from Nick on Gluteus Medius Exercises:

Training Stupidity

Flash back to November of 2008. I had just done my fifth meet in about seven months, which was probably a little too frequently. I was on pace to pull my first 600lb deadlift at a bodyweight around 178-180. Training had gone well as I had pulled 610 with band tension, tripled 540 and had made good progress on most of my assistance work. Well, I ended up missing 570ish at the meet when I had nearly locked out 585 a few months earlier. Part of the problem was just training stupidity. I had gone too intense for too many weeks before the meet and had competed too many times. But I knew that couldn’t be the only issue at hand because when I made that attempt, the weight was coming up smoothly; I thought for sure that I had it locked. Then as I approached lockout, I just couldn’t finish it. I was upset to say the least.

The Injury was in the Details

So at this time, I was in my last semester in the exercise science and strength & conditioning program at UW-La Crosse. Luckily, I was surrounded by some very knowledgeable people who knew their stuff. I spoke with one of my mentors, an amazing strength coach who knows a thing or two about the iron game. I showed him a video from my missed deadlift. He immediately pointed something out that I hadn’t noticed or really even thought of. My left leg began to shake as I approached lockout. He looked at another video of a 560 pull I had made easily a few months earlier. I had some rotation occurring through my hips and trunk as I pulled the deadlift. It was subtle, but you could sure see it.

So what the heck was going on?

He evaluated me and found out that:

  1. my left glute was not firing as well as my right with hip extension
  2. my right shoulder had some issues as well
  3. my subscapularis was very fibrotic and was stopping my scapula from moving as efficiently as it could

If you have ever read any of Thomas Myers’ stuff on fascia and exercise, this should make you think of the spiral line: opposite hip and shoulder.

I’m assuming that many who read this page know about the book, Anatomy Trains, so I won’t get into tons of detail, but the spiral line is a line of fascia that wraps around the body and at a certain portion of its path, connects opposite hip and shoulder together; basically meaning that an issue with one can affect the other with various movements.

This had implications with the rotation that was occurring with my movement. So he did some ART on my hip and shoulder (left TFL and right subscap among other things) and gave me a few corrective exercises to fix this imbalance that I had. This was probably my first real personal experience/encounter with the world of muscle imbalances and corrective exercise.

I had been decently well versed in every strength and conditioning modality imaginable but had apparently slacked on this whole other department. I was determined to fix my imbalance and get better. I decided to take some time off of competing and hammer these things out for a little while. The January following this encounter, I would embark on my full time internship in order to finish up my degree, which would turn out to be one of the best experiences of my entire life.

Muscle Imbalances that Affected My Lifting

Enter Indianapolis Fitness and Sports Training with a couple of guys named Mike Robertson and Bill Hartman. I learned a tremendous amount about training during my amazing time there and was totally immersed into the world of analyzing and addressing postural faults and muscular imbalances. I had no choice but to get better.

They discovered some of the same that my mentor at La Crosse had plus more:

  • left glute medius was weak
  • left glute max had gotten a little better but still wasn’t great
  • external obliques weren’t where they needed to be, which meant that I didn’t have optimal control over my pelvis and trunk and was leaving pounds on my lifts
  • lower traps were weak, especially the left side, which meant that my scapulae were not as stable as they could have been (implications for all of the big lifts)
  • I had a slight shift and rotation with squats and pulls, which was definitely part of the issues listed above.

Those were some of the main problems for me. So I hammered out lots of special exercises to help balance things out and get my lifts up. I did however, make one mistake. I still trained too intensely, too often. I picked a meet that I wanted to do that May and trained for it.

Little clip from Bill Hartman’s Presentation in Muscle Imbalances Revealed – Lower Body Edition:

Now, these issues that I had were things that were probably going on for a long time. In my early days of training back in high school, I really had no true idea what I was doing (though I sure thought I did) as I pretty much just taught myself and learned from random gym rats and magazines back then.

The shifts and rotation that I had with my squat and pull were subtle enough that an average eye would never notice them, so who knows how long that had been going on. While I had gotten along fine and had built up to a respectable strength level and build, fixing some of these things earlier could have saved me lots of trouble and probably helped me to hit bigger weights easier. I mean, locking out a max deadlift with one glute firing versus two glutes firing is kind of a big deal. So anyhow, I was training hard and lifts were going up, etc. until…..

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That is the end of part 1.  I got part 2 coming up very soon.  Big thanks to Nick.  We all have an in jury story.

About the Author

Nick Rosencutter, CSCS, NSCA-CPT, LMT – Nick is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Certified Personal Trainer through the National Strength and Conditioning Association and is also a Nationally Certified and Licensed Massage Therapist. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Exercise and Sports Science with a Fitness emphasis and Strength and Conditioning Concentration from the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, and received his diploma in Massage Therapy from Lakeside School of Massage Therapy in Milwaukee. He has worked with all varieties of clients ranging from fat loss to various levels of athletes and is also a competitive powerlifter. He currently trains clients at Southridge Athletic Club in Milwaukee and offers corrective exercise and movement training at Miller Sports and Wellness Chiropractic in West Allis. You can learn more at his website www.rosencutterultrafitness.com

Rick Kaselj, MS

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1 Comment

  1. Great stuff to think about.

    I’ve had an injury knock me off my fit wagon several times now, and it SUCKS. A 600 lb deadlift sounds absolutely insane to me, but I LOVE deadlifts too. Much respect for setting a goal like that, especially at a weight of 180 lbs.

    I’ve often wanted to record myself lifting to try and uncover areas the need improvement, but I’m not sure if it’ll make me look creepy.

    Best wishes!

    -Matt

    [Reply]

    avatar

    Rick Kaselj Reply:

    Matt,

    Thanks for the comment.

    I think recording your technique is a great idea. It will give you a lot of info to improve things.

    What is creepy is taking photos of yourself half naked in the bathroom with your iPhone and posting them on Facebook.

    Rick

    [Reply]

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