Things don’t always go as planned. It’s how you react to the plan is what matters. I’m a planner. A BIG planner. I had a plan and it went so far South that I wondered if there was any plan left.
Way back in March, I signed up to get my CrossFit Olympic Lifting Certification this coming weekend. CF certification classes are pretty pricey, they don’t offer than many of them so you are most likely going to have to travel to attend a class and if something happens and you can’t attend, you do not get your money back. I lucked out and got the last spot for a class that is being taught here in town at CF Central. The next closest class is in Atlanta and it was already sold out. The one here in Austin was the last one offered for the year so I was committed!
My plan was to really work on my lifts before the class so I would go in ahead of the game. I started working with my coach for a month starting in July specifically on Olympic lifts. During that time, I started to have some shoulder pain. It wasn’t a constant pain, just a weird sharp pain anytime I would lift anything over my head. If I warmed up really, really well, I could push through it so I didn’t do anything about it. Then came the Iron Belle competition and between the clean and jerk ladder, the 30 wall balls, 30 push press and countless pull-ups, my shoulders were toast. My adrenaline was so crazy during the competition that I didn’t feel ANYTHING. About a week later when I couldn’t even do a normal push-up, I was concerned but not enough to go see anyone. Smart huh? I figured extra stretching and warm-ups would get rid of it. I pretty much clawed my way through my workouts for the next month. Everything sucked, I wasn’t getting stronger, I still couldn’t get past the skinny band on my pull-ups, I wasn’t having fun and I was really starting to dread going into the garage. I was just about done.
The workout that sent me over the edge was “Fran”. 21-15-9, thrusters and pull-ups. I started out with a 45lb barbell and I could barely get it over my head. I was so freaking mad. I had to keep dropping down until I was down to 25lbs and I couldn’t freaking believe it. I know that we all have bad days in the gym but this was ridiculous. That was my absolute worst day ever in the gym. I was done.
I decided that I needed to give my body a break. I was trying to do 5 days on in the gym and 2 days off. It worked better with my schedule. My body thought differently. One of the things that I have to accept is that my recovery time is longer at 43 than at 33. I’m going back to 3 days on, one day off and we’ll see how that works. I took two weeks off from doing anything heavy and only did my 5k training. I didn’t change my diet because that was another thing that I had been struggling with. Am I eating enough, not enough, too much of this and not enough of that? What the hell! I wanted to see if just resting my body would be enough. Turns out it was a HUGE part of it.
Remember – I had a plan! During all of this time, I’m supposed to be working on my lifts and getting stronger so I’d be ready for this certification class. When you get certified in anything CF, you work your ass off for those two days. You aren’t sitting at desks taking notes. You are out of the floor doing the moves. I could barely walk on day 2 of my Level 1 Trainer certification course. I’m fully prepared to be paralyzed by Monday after this course. Not only have I not been lifting heavy weights, I haven’t been lifting any weights. I physically couldn’t do it. It hurt my shoulders to pull the covers up on my bed. Not exactly preparing for class.
A few weeks ago I was telling my friend Carey about what was going on with my shoulders. Carey is a world-class athlete so she is quite experienced when it comes to this stuff. She suggested I go and see the guys at Next Level Chiropractic. I’m thinking I just need a little physical therapy and I’ll be good to go. I considered seeing on orthopedist and actually made an appointment. It was going to take forever to get in and then they started talking x-rays and then on to physical therapy and I just couldn’t do it. After spending 7 months in physical therapy for my knees, I just couldn’t do it again for my shoulders unless I absolutely had too. Only if there wasn’t any other alternative. I also didn’t want someone to tell me to stop doing what I was doing and I could see it coming.
I found the card that Carey gave me and called Next Level and was able to get an appointment in just a few days. I checked out their website and I was so excited to see that they specialize in working with CrossFitters! Sweet! Someone who will work with me, get me healthy AND stronger. I was so excited. My first appointment lasted over an hour because they went through everything with me and found the source of my problem. Bad nerves – not necessarily bad shoulders. My nerves are all jumbled up in my shoulders and chest and they aren’t moving the way that they should. It’s a pretty easy fix but the treatment is pure torture. It’s called Active Release Technique (ART) Soft tissue massage. ART is a patented, state of the art soft tissue system/movement based massage technique that treats problems with muscles, tendons, ligaments, fascia and nerves. There’s lots of twisting and pushing and pinching and I’m pretty sure I almost passed out a couple of times. Two days later, I woke up with very minimal pain. It worked!
I’ve had 2 more treatments since last week. Yesterday it went to a whole new level. The ART part of it wasn’t as bad as before – it does become less painful – but nothing could have prepared me for the scraper. The muscle scraper that is. This treatment is thousands of years old and originated in China. It is used for all kinds of treatments because it basically pushes all the crap out of your muscles and it hurts like nothing I have ever felt before.
Muscle fibers are supposed to be long and flowing. Mine are all wound up like a ball of yarn. This comes from years of sitting at desk in front of a computer, bad posture, a messed up neck and not stretching as much as I should. The scraper is either made out of metal or plastic and it looks just like a kitchen scraper or just a regular scraper that you would use to scrape up something. A lotion is applied to the part of your body that is going to be scraped and then the scraping begins. Basically you start from the top and scrape down. Short, fast and really hard scrapes. This is breaking up all of the lactic acid and toxins that are in unhealthy muscles and pushing it out. What’s crazy is that when you scrape a healthy muscle, nothing changes on the skin. Unhealthy muscles immediately because red, inflamed and bruised. It took about 2 seconds for my arms to look like I lost a fight with a baseball bat. After that is over, my arms are packed in ice for ten minutes and then taped up. The tape helps with the bruising and also hides it! I decided to get taped up because I was going straight from there to coach my after school kids. I had no idea I was going to have this done so I didn’t bring a shirt with sleeves. I didn’t want them to completely freak when they saw me. Tape also makes for great conversations.
Last night was pretty much a sleepless night because my arms hurt so bad BUT I woke up with absolutely no shoulder pain! I was actually able to lift a barbell today without any pain at all. Freaking amazing. I’m really glad that my body is reacting this way to the treatment! I’m not freaking out as much as I was before about this weekend. The bruises are pretty horrible but to have relief in only 3 appointments is so worth it!
Lessons learned from this little experience: 1. Listen to your body! If you can’t push through the pain, it’s probably something you need to get checked out. Don’t put it off! 2. Be open to different types of treatment. Traditional Western medicine isn’t always the best. Don’t be afraid to try something different. 3. Find a doctor or therapist who will work with you to keep reaching your goals. They are out there – don’t be afraid to change if you aren’t getting what you need. 4. Listen to your coach! If your coach tells you to get it checked out, DO IT. 5. This should be first on the list: Preventative therapy is a really good idea! Most people don’t go to the chiropractor or get a massage when they are feeling good. If you do it when you are healthy, it will KEEP you healthy. Don’t wait until you are injured to get some therapy or relief!
Here’s a picture of one of my arms. The tape is covering up the ginormous bruises all up and down my arm. The other arm looks pretty much the same way. Sexy!