Challenges, ailments, illnesses, injuries, even surgical procedures cannot destroy your fitness on their own–they need your help.
Pimp your sling. Yes, that’s a mil-spec green laser.
On June 11th, I had arthroscopic shoulder surgery to begin my transformation into a homicidal cyborg. Or to repair a type-2 tear in my labrum, an rotator cuff debridement, and a sub-acromial decompression (that’s scooping out decades of shit collected under the AC joint), whichever. It was the result of eight years of high school/college football, multiple injuries back then, not taking care of it like an ass, and abusing it recklessly for years afterwards.
Then, I was faced with a question; how do I fix this? What do I do now? This is the only time I’ve been completely sidelined in my entire life.
Just how bad could it really be? If you tuck tail and make an excuse about why
You have to start someplace. Log. Everything.
you can’t train today? Well, if it’s just today; not that bad. But it’s not just today. It’s the insidious attitude and permissiveness you’re allowing into your life that’s problematic.
The second day is easier. The third even more so. Suddenly, it’s harder to come back and face the work than to stay on the couch. We’ve all felt it before. Don’t be a bitch and go there. It’s easy to realize how good you’re going to feel when it’s over. You know you’re going to be pleased with yourself when you slog through those burpees instead of sitting on the couch and watching MacGyver on Netflix.
Get off you’re fucking candy ass, and move some heavy shit. Rapidly.
Rationalizing doing nothing after a serious injury (or in my case, a surgery) is astonishingly easy. You will hear, incessantly, “Take it easy, take a load off, heal up.” If your doctor sucks, you’ll hear it from them, and then it reads like gospel. Thankfully, I didn’t have that problem. I was fortunate to be surrounded by sports specific medical professionals, many of whom are CrossFitters. Like most things, surgical repairs (within reason) are healed by moving them, intelligently, in ways that do not re-damage them.
That’s why they have physical therapy.
The thought of sitting on the couch with a limitless supply of cookies and peanut butter cups is thrilling when you can’t see the barbells through the percocet-induced funk.
One of the beautiful things about the diversity of movement we have in CrossFit, is we can train around anything. There is always a way, motherfucker. You can intelligently and safely work on your fitness with an impediment. Don’t make me show you videos of adaptive athletes making you look like a pussoir.
Just taking it easy is such a terrible fucking idea North Korea won’t even do it. I’ll show you why, visually, in a moment. Of course, you’re not going to jump off the fucking operating table and hit some tabata squats before you go home to sleep off the anesthesia. I took one week off after my shoulder repair. It was a struggle just to get off the couch (I had to sleep in a recliner for about a month to not compromise my slinged arm). If not for friends and coworkers bringing me amazing food, I’d probably look like Paul from the Wonder Years right now. After a week I felt OK, I wasn’t on any pain medication and I wasn’t in any pain at all, really.
What’s the greater risk? Hurting something, or ruining everything?
It was time to man-up and fucking rock. I headed down to the HQ gym, and slowly started messing around with stuff until I found things I could do. Occasionally, a frustrated observer (Mr. Sherwood) would get sick of watching me engineer things and just move plates around for me. Thanks buddy.
So, I set forth at doing the work of the fitness. Here is the body of work I’ve collected in the last eight weeks since surgery:
This could very easily read “Shoulder Surgery” then a smattering of cupcakes, cookies, and porn hub. But instead: Fitness.
That’s a lot of work. Or, if I had pulled the ‘chute, it’d look like this:
The alternatives are not acceptable. Unless you’re the Comic Book Guy from “The Simpsons.”
I’ve been on about the same protocol from then to now:
- Don’t fuck up the shoulder.
- Don’t use the left arm.
- Don’t fall on it.
- Don’t do things that hurt (the shoulder).
Right now I program (or not, as it were) for myself Rich Froning style. I come into the gym, and extemporaneously create a workout. What did I do yesterday? What haven’t I done in awhile? What energy systems have I been working the last week or two? What movements can I physically do? And then boom, come up with a workout and do it. There’s been lots of one-arm dumbbell snatching, jerking, thrustering, rowing, ring rows, box jumps, and recently even burpees (regretting figuring out how to do these with 1-arm), barbell snatches and enough GHD sit-ups to give Jesus Christ Rhabdo.
“What about imbalances?”
Are you alive? Do you move? Congrats, you have imbalances. Let me watch you perform the nine foundational movements and I’ll show you all sorts of imbalances; we’ve all got them. If you have two arms and only use one in training, your imbalance is going to be more obvious, but it’s temporary. The choice is simple:
- Possibly develop somewhat of an imbalance on one side.
- Definitely get weak, fat and out of shape on both sides.
“You should take it easy,” they say. Fuck y’all motherfuckers. The alternatives speak for themselves. How fucking out of shape, miserable, and depressed would I be right now if I had done nothing? I’d be as frustratingly, infuriatingly wrapped in my own myopic Hell as Robin Williams’ wife in What Dreams May Come. Risk is perceived and relative. What’s the greater risk? Hurting something, or ruining everything? The decisions is black and white.
Move what you can, how you can. Constantly varied is relative, just like intensity. Work through movements you can do; don’t worry about the ones you can’t. Mechanics, consistency, intensity.
Fuck taking it easy.
One of the beautiful things about the diversity of movement we have in CrossFit, is we can train around anything. There is always a way, motherfucker.