Conquering Pain with Powerlifting: A True Tale of Transformation

Conquering Pain with Powerlifting: A True Tale of Transformation

The story of overcoming fear and injury through exercise begins with a blanket statement that created a strong identity of injury for many individuals. 

Continueing our pain science series on the Sound Of Movement podcast episode 360, with expert physiotherapist Phil White this week we dive deeper into the topic of injury identity and best practices for rehab.

This identity, born from warnings and experiences, often leads to a deep-seated fear of certain movements, particularly in the realm of strength training such as deadlifts and squats.

In my early twenties, while working as a personal trainer at Fitness First, the exposure to other trainers deeply involved in powerlifting and certifications with experts like Charles Poliquin and Tony Boutagy began to warm up the idea of reengaging with previously feared exercises. 

This shift in perspective was crucial in starting to challenge and eventually overcome the ingrained fear of certain movements.

The turning point came with the influence of a mutual friend, Sebastian Oreb, who challenged the ingrained fear of deadlifts. 

He introduced the concept of the snatch grip deficit deadlift, which emphasizes an extreme range of movement starting from low weight. 

This approach not only tackled the physical aspect of exercise but also began to address the psychological barriers associated with it.

Despite the fear that things could worsen, the smallest triggers in everyday life, like back spasms, led to severe pain and hospital visits. However, these painful experiences did not correspond with worsening conditions on medical scans, indicating that the issue was more related to the body's reaction rather than tissue damage.

The key to overcoming these challenges was relearning the relationship with pain and exercise. It involved understanding that pain was not always an indicator of harm but rather a signal that could be managed and interpreted differently. 

The approach of 'deadlifting out' of a back spasm, for instance, became a protocol to reinforce to the brain that the body was safe and that the past injury had been rehabilitated.

From a broader perspective, understanding chronic pain and its impact on the exercise experience is crucial. Knowing when to rest and when to push through, especially in the acute stages of pain, becomes an important part of managing one’s health and fitness journey.

For someone starting a new exercise program, be it UMS, CrossFit, or strength training, and experiencing pain linked to a past injury, the best course of action is often a balanced approach. Understanding the difference between harmful pain and discomfort that is a natural part of adapting to new exercises is key.

The story of a person experiencing discomfort after their first workout and subsequently avoiding exercise highlights a common misinterpretation. Initial discomfort can be a natural response to new activities, and understanding this can help in maintaining consistency in an exercise program.

This journey through pain, fear, and exercise demonstrates the transformative power of understanding and reinterpreting our body’s signals. It's a testament to the importance of expert guidance, the mental aspect of physical training, and the necessity of confronting and overcoming our fears for a healthier, stronger self.

Listen to episode 360 of the Sound Of Movement podcast episode 360 here.

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