Articles  >  Mental & Emotional
That Fine Line between Being Tough and Being Stupid
Mike Gray
January 27 2016

If I were to take a poll of all the weightlifters out there and ask how many of you are hurt right now, I bet it would be a decent number. Now if I ask the same group how many of you are actively doing something about it, that number is probably significantly lower than the group whose plan is just to keep training and hope it will go away and or get better with time.

I am that guy. I will push through and keep going because I love to train, and with my getting older, I have this nagging feeling like I am running out of daylight in this sport. So for the past couple of years, I have been collecting little injuries here and there. Honestly none of them have been that bad, and by that I mean I haven’t needed surgery; but what has happened is that my body has adapted around some of them and not all of these adaptions have been good.

In the spring of last year I was doing front squats after a pretty rough day of training and it felt like my right leg just shut off for a second, and then it felt like my IT band became 6” too short for my body and was made out of a rusty cable. Pain was constant for about a week ,and it didn’t matter if my leg was straight or flexed. So what should your first thought be? Hey this might be bad and what can I do to fix this or what lifts can I still do and train around this thing while I give Jobu some more rum and hope it goes away? Right now I bet there is a pretty good-sized group of readers thinking that the latter just sounds dumb.

So I keep going. I have a meet I want to do a couple of months away and I need the total to get back to the American Open, so I suck it up and push on. At this point I can’t squat without pain and have to switch to block and power movements for a while. Get to the meet and I get the total I needed, but couldn’t even finish the meet because my knee got wonky after my first clean & jerk. So this is late July and I have the American Open 4 months later. My thinking is, Well this has to be a “mobility” issue, and so I start foam rolling, stretching, getting massages and doing everything else in the world I think might help alleviate the pain and uncomfortableness when I lift. Understand now, though, this is starting to leak out into my normal life: getting out of my car, going down stairs and pretty much anything that involves my leg is starting to get pretty sketchy. So I literally limp into the AO—my lifts are now circling the toilet, but I go and lift because that’s what I set out to do.

Now this where the advice from me to you comes in: If this sounds like you, please keep reading and the next few paragraphs are what you need to pay attention to. About 2 weeks out from the meet, I talked to Greg about finding a rehab specialist because at this point I was a mess, and after the AO I was going to find somebody to help me get my body going in the right direction again. He sent me to Zach Greenwald at Strength Ratio. We talked via email for a bit and decided that after the AO we would start. So as I write this, it’s been about a month since I started and I feel 100% better. I actually trust my right leg again and the pain in my shoulder, lower back and hamstring has been almost completely erased. Working with Zach has been incredible for me. He has me doing things that I wouldn’t have done to try and get better, and in this day and age of coaches and gurus sprouting up like weeds, he is without a doubt a true professional. His attention to detail and ability to explain things are second to none.

So if you decide to go this route—and HIGHLY recommended it—remember these 2 things:

  1. Find a person who understands what you do; they need to understand what weightlifting is and the biomechanics behind it and that, yes, doing a full squat is quite safe and very necessary. Ask whom they’ve worked with and their methodologies and the reasoning behind them.
  2. Be ready to buy in, meaning put all preconceived notions behind you and trust the process. Zach has me barefoot squatting, farmer walking and walking with a dumbbell over my head. All I can says is that it works and I wish I had found this 2 years ago as it would have saved me a great deal of pain.

Most of you who follow this website are smart people who know when enough is enough and will actually stop and consider other options besides being in pain all of the time; however, for you holdouts like myself, please heed my advice and find someone to help you out.