By Steve Sharpton, Parsons Training Center, Tucson, Arizona
April 10, 2016
For weeks on end, my father had been bugging me about a darn five-gallon cooler. You see, when I did Ragnar Del Sol in February, I took two five gallon jugs with me, just in case people wanted to use them for their water needs rather than rely on a bunch of bottled waters. They were huge game changers last year, when we managed to save a lot of space in these rather compact vans we used. Well, my van didn't use it, but Van 1 from our team did. Truthfully, I kind of regret about forgetting to get it from them when we were all at the finish line on that bizarrely hot day in Phoenix. After some phone tag and other setbacks, I initially forgot about the darn thing when my father once again asked me about it. Like a moment from the Three Stooges, I slapped my head and said “Oh crap!” So the back and forth with my team captain commenced again, for she went on vacation one week and completely forgot the next due to some studies. So this past week, we finally made the exchange. I’m sure she was relieved, for I was badgering her in the same way a comic nerd would badger Stan Lee for an autograph. But that is not the interesting part of the story, and don’t worry, I am getting to it!
Since I had no idea where my team captain Stephanie would park, I parked at my usual spot near the Chase bank on the west side of the University of Arizona campus, hoping I would catch her at the Old Chemistry building that was centrally located. Well, I finally got the message I waited so long to hear. “I will be at the mirror lab near the football stadium.” That was clear on the east side of the campus! So I hoofed on over, walking the campus like I used to. The only difference being there wasn’t construction going on at every turn, there was an actual major walkway and the football stadium didn’t look like a piece of crap. Oh, and I totally looked like I was way too old to be in college. And yes, I am bitter that my college experience was equivalent to a few bad years of street construction. I knew trouble would hit me that day, for I was breaking in some new Vans shoes I got from my family’s yard sale. So yeah, I was hip like the kids for a day, even though I stuck out like a sore thumb. But as I walked back across campus to my car, I could sense something wasn’t right. My left foot was feeling rather strange, like a great deal of pressure was being placed too much on that side of the body. By the time I got home, it was already forming. For some reason or the other, a nasty blood blister was starting to take shape on my left foot. I couldn’t really believe it! I mean, from one day of walking in those shoes I was already starting to regret putting on those accursed kicks….shoes I had always kind of wanted. I instantly knew what the problem was for myself….my hips were most likely imbalanced.
The last time I got a blood blister like that was when I suffered a nasty one on my right foot way back in December. At the time, my body was an absolute wreck, and that was when I went to my chiropractor. I was twisted up pretty good and was in desperate need of some realignment. When I went to work on Tuesday, some more issues started taking shape. Through the day, I did a boatload of lifting, and got into a routine repetitive motion that probably made things worse for me. Now, during my workout session that night, I tried doing some exercises that might help even out my body posture a bit. Jon had assigned me some interesting stuff for the evening, starting with some hang cleans and front squats, overhead presses, barbell rows and deadlifts. It was a full body evening that really saw me overcome the fatigue I had accrued at work. After anther brutal day at work, I was ready for some more heavy lifting on Thursday. I had some bench presses, reverse grip rows back squats, and some work to do on the GHD. Everything seemed okay on the bench press, but that wasn’t until the problems started cropping up on my back squat. Now, I couldn't tell what was going on from my perspective, but something was not right, and Jon was pretty much on top of it. Since I wasn’t working with a mirror, it was obvious I was not doing something right, for Jon rarely stops me rom doing something while working with a client. So I went to another rack that had a mirror available and tried back squatting the same. Sure enough, I was tilting. Not only was the problem at my shoulders—where the bar was leaning to the right—my legs were also having some trouble. When you do a back squat or squat of any sort, you are supposed to have an even alignment with your legs that allow you to distribute your weight evenly. Well, that just wasn’t happening with me. And to make matters worse, I was overcompensating on my right side. Now we all have a strong side of our body, one we use more so than the other….but in the world of fitness and weight lifting, that could be a real problem. http://www.prevention.com/fitness/workout-mistakes-hurt-your-hips
If anything, I’m setting myself up for some massive hip problems down the line. The issue in question is the lack of evenness, and once again, I have no doubt in my mind that my body is severely out of whack. It wouldn’t be the first time for me, and it is certainly not going to be the last for me as I keep working my rather difficult warehouse job. And with hours kind of limited right now, I haven’t been able to afford the chiropractic and deep tissue care I would do every week. Now one thing the article pointed out, which I am clearly doing, is letting my right leg point inward during the squat. Often times this creates stress on your hips and ultimately will overwork just about every muscle on the leg that is having trouble. Needless to say, I was doing all of these things. First of all, the weight I was doing wasn’t too bad, for 225 is something I am pretty comfortable with. But then Jon had me step in front of the mirror, that was when the ceiling came crashing down on me. My right knee was pointing inward, hips looked out of whack, the bar wasn’t straight on my shoulders and for the end all problem on top of that, my legs were just too close together. Yeah, I was a mess, and the lack of repetitions under my belt is the main problem. Much like my issues with trying to catch up on a lot of the old weight lifting movements I kind of neglected, back squats are certainly a tricky one for me. While I have a much better control of the situation in regards to my front squats, clearly I need a lot of work on the back squats still. And like always, Jon had some rather helpful hints to help me get back on track.
First of all, he pointed out of all my mistakes. Seems the only thing I was doing right was the fact I was keeping my back arched and my butt low. But beyond that, just a hot mess. So first thing was first, Jon informed me to go to a much lower weight, having me work at 135 for the remainder of my workout (I was doing five sets of five, but with the lower weight, I switched it to 10 reps). With the change in weight, Jon pretty much forced me to look at how I was doing the lift as opposed to focusing on getting the lift done, if that makes any sense to you. As I started the relatively light weight regimen, I could see just how much trouble I was having. It was difficult keeping the bar straight on my back, and my right leg definitely wanted to wobble inward. It was a wake-up call. Part of the temporary problem with the workout was the fact my blood blister was reaching its final stages, leaving a little pain underneath but still decent enough to rip off the outer layer so the “drying out” process could continue. I thought I would be able to run on it, but have taken a little bit of a break while I let the pain from underneath heal. Either way, my subconscious desire to not use my left leg presented a new challenge for me. So rather than try to get through the rep counts for the heck of it, I started going much slower than I ever would in regards to squats, keeping a close eye on all my alignments with each dip. It was kind of annoying at first, but this is part of the process. You have to create muscle memory for yourself, allowing your body to naturally do what is necessary to get through a particular movement. I’m just so out of it right now, that this very philosophy is just not in the cards right now. I have to pay more attention and be more mindful on other workouts. One suggestion Jon gave me was to try and do some resistance band training on my weaker side. Much like my problem with balance when I started working out with Hannah, I now have to start doing some other workouts. One problem people come across with everyday life is being “linear.” What this means is you walk a straight line a lot, which is pretty much how we do everything. Naturally, this creates a weakness in our legs and hips, which means we have to start doing more lateral movement based exercises. Doing the resistance band training wasn’t too bad, for it worked my balance as well trying to fix my hip strength.
This all leads to me having to get back on the track, not necessarily in regards to running, but in regards to my body maintenance. Clearly, my running is most likely playing a role in this situation. Before I took a couple days off to let the blister get hard and heal properly, I had logged in 14 runs in 18 days. Of course, with my personal challenge for working out, there are going be some unintended consequences. Throw in my physically demanding job, and you probably chalk some of my problems to a possible “hip drop.” What this means in the running world is one of my hip muscles is weak. Usually this hits the gluteus medius, which helps stabilize the hip while one foot is off the ground and the other is impacting, pushing the body forward. If you have a weak gluteus medium, then your hip will drop and create more impact on your body. Why would this be important you might ask? Well, if your hip starts dropping on one side, the entire center of gravity for the rest of the body will be severely altered. This certainly happened to me big time on Wednesday, when I had an unusually hard day at work. Once again, I worked on the loading trucks, but this time there was only myself and one other guy handling five different trucks, trekking back and forth, climbing step stools and never really stopping. My supervisor, like the young idiot he was, kept saying it was a slow day. Maybe so for everyone else, but for two guys having to handle five trucks of boxes, it can create some problems. Needless to say, my body was extremely out of whack, and I took a full rest day whether I really wanted to take it or not.
Right now, I need to start doing some hip strengthening exercises, much like what I was doing with my balance problems. Until I can get a little more cash in my bank account I will have to try and make my appearances to my body wellness friends count. While I am losing some ground on my running and my challenges, I need to be consistently strong in all areas in order to maintain my good running form and my weight lifting form. I guess I will to start hitting those stretch band exercises soon enough!!
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Parsons Training is a Tucson leader in fitness and personal wellness training. Every personal trainer with this company designs and implements effective fitness programs for their clients; these programs serve as the foundation for good health, fitness, and wellness. Additional information about Parsons Training is available at http://www.parsonspersonaltraining.com
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Steve, a Parsons Training Client, went from 400 pounds to Running half-marathons, from lifting pizzas to lifting hundreds of pounds through training with us.