Friday, March 5, 2021

Lifting Weights To Combat Pain

 There are two strategies that seem to help handle pain and/or the body's response to pain.

The first is the rather straightforward acquisition of muscle mass.  30lbs more muscle, which I am pretty sure I have achieved, means less pain or perhaps being more able to handle pain.  Certainly, there's been a massive reduction in flare-ups or events where I am unable to focus on anything else.  Many bodybuilding/strength programs can get you there, but it takes a few years.  Just in terms of return on investment fastest, I would recommend focusing on getting the largest muscles bigger.  These are often neglected by beginners because they generally aren't seen when looking in the mirror.

The second strategy is figuring out how to put yourself under heavy load safely.  The body's acute response is pretty strong, as this means a central nervous system response that is probably a lot larger than anything most people encounter in daily life.  You want it to be truly safe, but emotionally it should feel dangerous.  The "Oh shit, I this could kill me"- thought is probably a very powerful one.  

Things I have done:

Rack pulls- set a bar in a rack to where you only have to lift it about an inch.  Then comes the process loading the bar, lifting with straps, and wandering around the gym to find some more plates to put on the bar again. This is basically the very top end of a deadlift and is mostly just meant to get that pressure of weight distributed across the whole body.

Load down the leg press machine but keep the safety on- since I am tall I still have a least a quarter of the range of motion, but it is essentially the same idea.  It's a shorter range of motion.  I was surprised at how quickly I got to the point where I had maxed out what the machine was capable of holding.

Heavy farmer's walks.  I found out we had the bars for farmer's walks at one of the locations.  This one is the most dangerous, I think.  You have to start light just so you can get used to the way you have to move (a little like driving a boat), and I probably made it worse by trying to walk farther- thus having to turn more often- than perhaps I should have.  I may have either injured myself with these, or as I got really heavy with them, they just revealed to me the weakness of my right side, which was hurting anyway, so I can't tell. 

There was also this Hammer strength machine that most people used for shoulder shrugs.  It had a seat on it, and the handles were like a wheelbarrow's handles.  I found I could drop the seat down to where it wouldn't interfere with anything, stand up against the padding, and then reach down and do what was essentially a dead lift- except with a lot more weight than I could with free weights.

I haven't done these things lately because I have been experimenting with Doug Brignole's stuff, which generally means lighter weights but targeted more directly at the muscle, so that particular muscle gets more of a load specifically.  Good for muscle growth, but I don't get the kind of full body response I got with these.  I would especially notice my heart freaking out- sometimes leading me to question the sanity of doing these things.  But I strongly suspect the acute response to heavy loads help deal with pain too, and I miss doing them.  But I don't miss wandering around the gym looking for more plates.

These heavy, central nervous system intensive type lifts tend to require more rest days than normal.  Probably ten days in many cases, especially as the weights increase.  Protecting joints with wraps or sleeves is important too.  I didn't screw up my wrist joint with the pulls, but I would get bruises from the straps.  That may just be unavoidable, because when I moved to some hooks that had more padding, I would still get bruising.

No comments: