Written by Simon Cushman
Why Am I In Pain?
The body is a machine made up of bones and muscles designed to complete certain tasks in set movements, the problem people have is they no longer complete tasks in these movement patterns, causing the body to lose shape due to tightened muscles or lack of work on set muscle groups. The human body has been developed to cope with the strains of hunting, gathering, carrying food, climbing, throwing and hitting.
The problem the modern human body faces is that it rarely completes tasks to this end, causing it to melt into a completely different shape that is not comfortable or practical, causing a range of issues, pains and problems. If unchecked, they will reduce your strength, health, fitness and well being, leading to a reduced quality of life in extreme circumstances. The best way to prevent this from happening is completing the complex main lifts, coordinating multiple joints to ensure a good range of movement and well-rounded muscle structure. See the programs page for a well-rounded program.
The body is made up of kinetic chains, which means the muscles from your toes to your head are all connected, so if you are suffering with pain in a certain area, it might not be due to a problem in that area. The best way this has been explained to me is if you hold on to a part of your shirt, and twist that point, you can see the amount of lines this cause and that range this can sweep to. This is the same with the kinetic chains in your body, where a knot somewhere might lead to pain in a different area. So to improve a pain in your upper back, you may need to address an issue with your running style and how flexible your calves and hamstrings are.
An example of this is sitting at an office desk or on the sofa in a ‘slouched’ or ‘hunched’ position. This will lead to tightened pecs, internal rotators, lats and elongated rhomboid, trapesius and external rotators. The look this will give is that of a hunched back, rounded shoulders and the head ‘pushed forward’ and will lead to knotting and tightness in the neck and upper back and also reduce your ability to pick heavy things off the floor and perform back exercises to maximum efficiency.
This could range from a slight to a severe deficiency depending on how long it goes unchecked without some form of corrective measures. Another way this can be caused is from training incorrectly, or in a skewed fashion, putting more emphasis on the ‘mirror’, ‘t-shirt’ or anterior muscles, causing them to tighten. Unless you also train your posterior muscles to AT LEAST the same volume and intensity AS WELL AS stretching and using myofacial release techniques on your frontal muscles you will also end up with this ‘kyphotic’ curve or hunchback look.
For all those desk jockeys reading this, there are some easy exercises you can use at your desk, at home and in the gym to rectify the problems. For those who have overtrained their chest and shoulders leaving them with an anterior rotated shoulder cuff, there are many things in the gym to put your body back on track and make you look a whole lot bigger and broader. See the program page for programs on ‘preventative and corrective posture’
If you think that you may suffer from this even in the slightest, get someone to take a picture of you from the side and try to find your central line which should go through your ear, the middle of the shoulder and straight down your arm. If there is a part of your body that is not on this line, you may have some work to do.
If you would also like to test your range of movement, you can do a simple test, lying on your back with your arms straight by your side. Lift your arms straight up and over your head without bending them or flaring them out to the side and see if you can touch the floor over your head, without lifting your lower back from the floor. If your arms separate, bend or do not touch the floor, there is an imbalance and a need for some flexibility training and some preventative measures.
|Exercise||Reps x Sets||Exercise||Reps x Sets||Stretch||Stretch|
|Face Pulls||12 x 2-3||Y, T, W, A||10 each x 2-3||Pecs||Rhomboids|
|Low Cable Shrug||12 x 2-3||External High rotations||12 x 2-3||Lats||Anterior Rotator cuff|