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Keep Calm, and Train On

Keep Calm, and Train On
March 7, 2018 Dan Raimondi

If you’re lifting, and you feel a sharp pain, tweak, spasm- don’t freak out. If your mind immediately goes to the worst case scenario, it’ll be far worse than if you calmly assess the situation.

I like to remind myself of a quote by Dr. Austin Baraki that referenced one of his training sessions. “Today was an interesting squat session. While warming up with 495×5, I experienced an acute, *severe* pain in the back of my neck. After racking the bar I began walking around like Batman, essentially unable to turn my head in any direction. This prompted the standard strategy: Step 1) Do Not Panic. Noting that I could fully feel and use my arms and legs, I then moved on to Step 2) Reassure yourself that you’re OK. Despite the persistent discomfort, I remembered that you don’t need to turn your head to squat, and moved on to Step 3) Keep moving. I loaded up my planned work weight of 530 lbs and proceeded to squat it for this PR set of 5.”

This somewhat happened to me on Monday. I finished my 3rd set of squats, racked the bar, and immediately began to feel my mid back seize up. It started in a somewhat specific spot, and the more I began to worry the more I felt “it” spread and become less specific. I first reminded myself that I was going to be ok. My next planned lift was the bench press, which I figured I’d take set by set to see how it felt. I finished up pretty well: the sets weren’t painful, and I lifted approximately the planned weight for the day. I finished the lift with block pulls, and actually felt a little more discomfort between sets than during. Today, 2 days after my back tightened up, I had a very productive squat, press, and power clean session. The weights were all normally what I would go for, and I actually have less stiffness now than before I lifted.

I am not saying that pain is meaningless. There are some scenarios where you might need to go to the doctor/hospital. In general, don’t catastrophize what’s happening. Understand that your back isn’t broken, there (likely) isn’t anything structurally wrong that will prevent you from doing some kind of training (you may need some modification in the short term). Keep yourself moving forward with a positive mindset and you might surprise yourself just how quickly you feel better.