Pride only hurts... but pain is temporary.

Hey everyone,

Rick from Olympus Health here, with something of a training story.

I've been suffering from a torn epicondyle bundle for about 6 months. For those who don't know what that is, let me pray to all things pagan that you never know from experience.

Medial epicondylitis diagram

In a nutshell, if you partially tear the tendons that connect the flexor muscles for your hands and wrist to your elbow, you're going to find that everyday actions are excruciatingly painful. If you thought you were strong, you'll be sad when your wife or girlfriend has to open jars for you. At 130kgs with a 300kg-for-reps deadlift, that was quite a reality check for a guy like me.

Basically – and you may find this funny – I was trying to beat Dmitry Klokov to posting a 105kg one-armed snatch video... they say 'aim high', right?

Dmitry Klokov 90kg one armed snatch thumbnail

I'd hit 100kgs once before, was feeling rested, strong and perhaps a little mad at a 'Parking Control Officer' I'd had the dubious pleasure of conversation with earlier that afternoon. What could go wrong?

Being a mortal (unlike Klokov) – and one that's slightly closer to mortality at 40+ y/o at that – I got as far as 95kgs during the 'warm-up' and won myself a one-way ticket to the infamous Snap City.

Not being as mobile as a 'real' Olympic Lifter (not many folks are), I mis-judged the bodily drop timing as the bar came to my sternum height, and 'caught' the bar slightly too far behind my back. Instead of letting go, I tried to 'muscle' it into place. 

What I did, was misalign my joints as the weight started to come down again (damn you gravity), and in the weakened position, the barbell simply tore along its straight path to the floor and right through my attempts to control it. 

It didn't hurt that badly... at the time. Hours later, I couldn't do anything to relieve the ache – no matter what position I held or rested my arm in. Making a fist was like being stabbed in the forearm with a hot BBQ fork.. or something similarly strange. It wasn't and isn't a pain I can easily describe.

Don't get stabbed with a fork

I went to my doctor, who told me to take Ibuprofen and not lift with that arm(!) for at least 6 months. When I insisted, he referred me to the Hospital physiotherapy department. The female doc I saw there was lovely, but largely told me my lifting days were done – at least this year. She gave me resistance band exercises and told me that was all I'd be able to do.

But I'm nothing if not a big, stoic motherfu**er, and although for the next few months opening doors, steering a vehicle or shaking hands with anyone felt like sawing into my elbow with a hot steak knife, I carefully wrapped it up and carried on training – albeit much lighter.

During much of this post-injury rehab time, I made sure I used an elbow sleeve from Strength Shop UK to keep that elbow warm and slightly supported/compressed. 

I performed a lot of very light controlled negatives by using dumbells – two hands to lift the weight and then just the injured arm to lower it. Did it hurt? Hell yes, but it wasn't 'injury' type hurt, it was 'working' hurt, and that's quite a nice feeling to those of us unbalanced enough to want to throw carefully fashioned lumps of pig iron around in a room with rubber floors with mirrors everywhere.

I still did one-handed (power) snatches... I just used dumbells rather than the barbell, as this took the stabilisation and lots of the grip requirement out of the lift. 

Light ones? Yes... compared to what I was attempting in the first place: 

Rick Jones Olympus Health CEO one armed snatch
You can see in the above pic that very tight lats and pecs are stopping me from achieving proper overhead position and scapular movement. I'm currently working on that before it leads to another injury. Before and after recent myofascial release with a foam roller and lacrosse ball (thanks to DNA Fitness for the guidance):

Rick Jones overhead mobility issues from tight lats and pecs

Shoot us a comment if you'd like to know more about this kind of mobility work – I'm going through it all now, and never realised how stiff you get or how quickly when doing regular, heavy low-rep work. 

It's now been a little over half a year since I was told not to lift – and I never stopped lifting.

The below video represents the first bench press session I've done without crying (on the inside, of course) for about 6 months. The weight is coming back up – this was a second set after hitting 6 x 180kgs on the first with a pause on the last one.

My message? Injuries don't mean you should stop training. Doctors will prescribe testosterone-lowering anti-inflammatories and tell you not to train... that'll stop it hurting, but it'll stop you progressing, too.

Instead, train smart and remember that you're not like anyone else. You're a warrior, right?

Chase your dreams. Failing is fine, but only if you get over it.