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Returning to lifting after an injury (I could use advice)

Old 06-25-18, 10:16 AM
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Seattle Forrest
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Returning to lifting after an injury (I could use advice)

I spent the Fall and Winter lifting heavy, and hurt my lower back. It turned out to be an overuse muscle injury, and Iím fully healed now. Lifting was helping my performance in other sports, and I started to enjoy it as ďme time,Ē so Iíd like to return. Obviously Iíd like to avoid further injury, and there are smart people here, so Iím hoping for good advice.

For context, Iím pretty sure this is what hurt me: too much volume, weight gain, the overhead press.

Iíve been going back to the gym for a few weeks, doing one exercise at a time, at moderate weight, and seeing how I feel the next day. Benches arenít a problem. Squats arenít a problem. Overhead presses are a problem.

My instinct is to return, start over with moderate weight, and limit volume drastically. I feel like I should be doing overhead presses, but that I should progress especially slowly with them.

Iím not sure whether I would benefit from hiring a trainer versus recording videos of myself on my phone, would love to hear thoughts on that. Thereís a risk of hiring a bad trainer. Thereís a lot of info on the web filled with photos of good vs bad form for every step of every exercise.

I donít know if thereís any value in seeing a sports doctor at this point?

And then I donít know what I donít know. I have common sense, Iím eager, and sometimes I have bad instincts.
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Old 06-25-18, 05:37 PM
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Standing overhead press is one of my favourite exercises. It's also one of those exercises where I always keep my reps very low, usually 3-5 reps. The reason why I keep my reps low on OHP is because it's easier to maintain proper form, no cheating, no leg drive, not too much bending of lower back...I found out that it becomes really difficult to maintain proper form on OHP when trying to do higher reps...I much prefer to do 10-12 sets of 3 reps with very short rest periods, instead of the more traditional 3 sets of 10-12 reps...I am also a big fan of doing high sets and low reps with short rest periods for other exercises, it keeps fatigue under control and allows me to maintain perfect form.
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Old 06-26-18, 07:43 AM
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Standing OHP is better than the seated version. Your lower body makes adjustments in support of the weight where you cannot do seated.

Were you doing it with barbells? Using dumbbells might work better, and starting with you palms facing in, and rotating them out as you push the weight up will put less stress on the joint.
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Old 06-26-18, 08:54 AM
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OHP is a good exercise, but there's no need for you to actually do it. You can train all of those muscles using other exercises. If it's hurting you, I'd avoid it for a while longer.

One strategy you could do in order to ease back into it is to include OHP on your general warm up. Do a couple very light sets (like just the bar) as a warm up before you bench for instance. If that causes no pain for a few weeks, perhaps consider working them back in very lightly.

In general, when doing them, I'd make sure to always leave at least 2 reps "in the tank" going forward. That way you won't be tempted to arch your back too much or compromise form in other ways. Remember, these are just to support your health and other activities, there's no prize for setting an OHP record.

As far as a trainer is concerned, that can be either really good or a total waste of time. There's just so much variation in the quality of trainers out there that it's a pretty big risk.
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Old 06-26-18, 10:04 AM
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Yeah, standing OHP, with a barbell.

I know I progressed too quickly, and let my form break down. I was putting 5 more pounds on the bar every Monday, and it got hard, but I was still able to do it. Lesson learned.

Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
As far as a trainer is concerned, that can be either really good or a total waste of time. There's just so much variation in the quality of trainers out there that it's a pretty big risk.
That's pretty much what I suspected, thanks for confirming. Sounds like if I go this route, I need recommendations from people I can trust.
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Old 06-30-18, 11:04 PM
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I loved deadlifting until I ruptured by guts had a triple hernia operation in July 2015. Tried a few times to get back into lifting and it feels like my hernia mesh is going to pop . So basically I’m am terrified of injuring myself again and at 50 I have no back problems so I’m lucky. I have dupuytrens contractor and have had 12 hand operations since 1994 so grip is always an issue. I believe in old fashion dumbbells and barbells and all the basic compound movements. I would start off very light and ease back into it but I’m no expert. I find weight training and cycling hard to do concurrently but that’s me. Hopefully you will get back weight training with no issues.
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Old 07-02-18, 03:44 PM
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Don't use a barbell for military press/ohp. It's terrible for your shoulders. Search youtube for athleanx shoulders. Your shoulders need to rotate as they move up and down and a barbell does not let them do this. I jacked up my shoulder doing this very thing in 2011 and it still flairs up from time to time.
Dumbbells, however, are great. AND, you have better control of the fore/aft location as you move up and down. Which is going to be more spine-friendly as well.
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Old 07-02-18, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by FromBeyond View Post
Don't use a barbell for military press/ohp. It's terrible for your shoulders. Search youtube for athleanx shoulders. Your shoulders need to rotate as they move up and down and a barbell does not let them do this. I jacked up my shoulder doing this very thing in 2011 and it still flairs up from time to time.
Dumbbells, however, are great. AND, you have better control of the fore/aft location as you move up and down. Which is going to be more spine-friendly as well.
Standing barbell overhead press is perfectly safe and won't harm your shoulders unless you're doing them wrong (eg grip too wide and/or elbows flared out to the side). Barbell overhead press can actually be a good rehab for shoulder pain. There have been plenty of times in the past when I had to stop doing barbell bench press due to shoulder pain, but had no problems at all with overhead press.
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Old 07-02-18, 04:07 PM
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I didn't just make that up. I can't link because I don't have 10 posts. Even if it doesnt hurt today, shoulder raises without internal rotation are hard on rotator cuffs.
Barbell OHP's are known for causing injuries. Arnold presses are not. The reason is (mostly) internal rotation. Also the fore/aft thing which leads to too much arch when using a barbell. And injury.
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Old 07-02-18, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by FromBeyond View Post
Don't use a barbell for military press/ohp. It's terrible for your shoulders. Search youtube for athleanx shoulders. Your shoulders need to rotate as they move up and down and a barbell does not let them do this. I jacked up my shoulder doing this very thing in 2011 and it still flairs up from time to time.
Dumbbells, however, are great. AND, you have better control of the fore/aft location as you move up and down. Which is going to be more spine-friendly as well.
Barbell OHP is only bad for people who have pre-existing shoulder issues and/or lack mobility/flexibility in their shoulders. It's also bad for people who have bad posture and rounded shoulders..... It's perfectly safe if you have healthy shoulders and enough mobility to do this exercise correctly...The best way to keep your shoulders healthy is to train your back, especially your upper back...For every pushing movement you should be doing two pulling movements...Rows, pull ups, inverted rows, face pulls etc are necessary for healthy shoulders, if you only doing pushing exercises, you're going to have problems.
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Old 07-02-18, 06:15 PM
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Although I do use BB OHP as I have exceptional shoulder joint mobility I do prefer using DB's for the simple reason that it's easier to pick up a set of DB's from the floor and power clean them up than to clean a BB. When I do the movement with a BB I like to have them resting on the rack and then just walk under them.
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Old 07-02-18, 06:16 PM
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Originally Posted by FromBeyond View Post
I didn't just make that up. I can't link because I don't have 10 posts. Even if it doesnt hurt today, shoulder raises without internal rotation are hard on rotator cuffs.
Barbell OHP's are known for causing injuries. Arnold presses are not. The reason is (mostly) internal rotation. Also the fore/aft thing which leads to too much arch when using a barbell. And injury.
It's actually the external rotation that causes problems in the shoulder, more than a lack of internal rotation. But the shoulder stays pretty neutral in a properly executed barbell overhead press. If your shoulders are externally rotated, you're doing it wrong. Sure you can hurt yourself if you do it wrong, but that's true for almost all freeweight exercises (certainly all of the compound lifts).

Dumbbell presses are perfectly fine, I'm not against them and lots of people use them effectively as a supplemental exercise. The simple truth is that the barbell version is more effective for building strength/mass because you can use more weight (partly due to greater muscle recruitment at the bottom of the ROM, and partly due to better control of bar path). And if you subscribe to the idea of strength work to improve things like bone density and joint strength, you'll get more benefit from the heavier barbell lift there as well.
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Old 07-02-18, 07:00 PM
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Any concerns about renegade rows?
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Old 07-02-18, 07:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Any concerns about renegade rows?
No concerns at all...It's an excellent exercise for building a rock solid core. Plus you get some back/shoulder/chest workout out of it too.
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Old 07-03-18, 08:07 PM
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Just a thought - humans didn't evolve for OHP. Who does that in their daily life, human or other branches on our tree? We pull down and are well built for that. Squats and deads we're built for. Benches not so much. Rows are built in.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Just a thought - humans didn't evolve for OHP. Who does that in their daily life, human or other branches on our tree? We pull down and are well built for that. Squats and deads we're built for. Benches not so much. Rows are built in.
Humans have been picking things from off the ground and lifting them overhead for thousands of years. Clean and press is a natural movement which we're evolved to do...I lift things overhead all the time at my job and that's why I find OHP a very functional and useful exercise. I hate bench press because it doesn't have any carryover into real life...As for squats and deadlifts, yes they are a natural human movements that humans have been doing for thousands of years, but also keep in mind that heavy barbell squats are a modern invention. Never in human history have humans been placing heavy weight on their back and squatting with it until failure and exhaustion like modern gym buffs do.
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Old 07-04-18, 04:22 AM
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OP, I'd recommend seeing a physical therapist rather than a trainer if you go that route.
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Old 07-04-18, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
Any concerns about renegade rows?
In honour of this thread I did some of these yesterday.
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Old 07-04-18, 01:31 PM
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Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
OP, I'd recommend seeing a physical therapist rather than a trainer if you go that route.
Thanks for that bit of advice.
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Old 07-04-18, 01:32 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
No concerns at all...It's an excellent exercise for building a rock solid core. Plus you get some back/shoulder/chest workout out of it too.
Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
In honour of this thread I did some of these yesterday.
Thanks, both of you, for the endorsement. I'm going back to basics, taking my volume way down, for now, and it sounds like this is going to be part of what I do for the near future. (I need to find a couple more pulling lifts.)
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Old 07-04-18, 01:33 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfchild View Post
Humans have been picking things from off the ground and lifting them overhead for thousands of years. Clean and press is a natural movement which we're evolved to do...I lift things overhead all the time at my job and that's why I find OHP a very functional and useful exercise. I hate bench press because it doesn't have any carryover into real life...As for squats and deadlifts, yes they are a natural human movements that humans have been doing for thousands of years, but also keep in mind that heavy barbell squats are a modern invention. Never in human history have humans been placing heavy weight on their back and squatting with it until failure and exhaustion like modern gym buffs do.
That sounds like every hike I've ever done!

I might be coming around to agree with you on the bench presses, though.
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Old 07-04-18, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
That sounds like every hike I've ever done!

I might be coming around to agree with you on the bench presses, though.
Keep in mind that an exercise doesn't necessarily have to mimic ancient human movement to be useful (pretty sure cycling doesn't). The bench press is a good movement for building muscle mass, and as a result, general strength in the upper body. Sometimes I think people tend to over-think this kind of stuff.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
That sounds like every hike I've ever done!

I might be coming around to agree with you on the bench presses, though.
Hiking with a heavy backpack is a loaded carry and can't be compared to squatting. They are different exercises.
I mean, hiking with a 50 pound backpack for a couple of miles is not the same as squatting for 3 sets of 10 with 315 pounds.
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Old 07-04-18, 03:42 PM
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Originally Posted by OBoile View Post
The bench press is a good movement for building muscle mass, and as a result, general strength in the upper body. Sometimes I think people tend to over-think this kind of stuff.
Nothing against people who enjoy bench press. But personally I just never liked it....I am a little unconventional in my approach to fitness and I don't just follow what everybody else does.
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Old 07-04-18, 04:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Seattle Forrest View Post
I spent the Fall and Winter lifting heavy, and hurt my lower back. It turned out to be an overuse muscle injury, and Iím fully healed now. Lifting was helping my performance in other sports, and I started to enjoy it as ďme time,Ē so Iíd like to return. Obviously Iíd like to avoid further injury, and there are smart people here, so Iím hoping for good advice.

For context, Iím pretty sure this is what hurt me: too much volume, weight gain, the overhead press.

Iíve been going back to the gym for a few weeks, doing one exercise at a time, at moderate weight, and seeing how I feel the next day. Benches arenít a problem. Squats arenít a problem. Overhead presses are a problem.

My instinct is to return, start over with moderate weight, and limit volume drastically. I feel like I should be doing overhead presses, but that I should progress especially slowly with them.

Iím not sure whether I would benefit from hiring a trainer versus recording videos of myself on my phone, would love to hear thoughts on that. Thereís a risk of hiring a bad trainer. Thereís a lot of info on the web filled with photos of good vs bad form for every step of every exercise.

I donít know if thereís any value in seeing a sports doctor at this point?

And then I donít know what I donít know. I have common sense, Iím eager, and sometimes I have bad instincts.
The overhead press did not hurt you. I don't know (for sure) what did, but I know that the OHP did not. In 40 years as an adult (60 years total) I have not found it wrong to 'assume' a lack of necessary core strength whenever a back injury is experienced, even the usual morning aches. Just one session of squats or deadlifts measurably increases your back strength and this must be counteracted 3:1 by a corresponding increase in core strength. The average non-weight training adult still receives enough back development from ordinary activity that ~50 situps or crunches 3x/wk OR a daily 2 min plank won't go amiss. Add even the slightest amount of heavy weight work to normal activity and weighted sit-ups and/or machine ab exercises with progressive weight increase in addition to 2 min+ planks and ~100 floor crunches or ~50 slant board crunches need to be performed to keep the core in balance with the back. No one is using enough weight on OHP to negatively impact a healthy back. The back was susceptible to injury because the necessary 3:1 (at least) ratio between back strength and core strength was not there.
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