Saturday, October 19, 2013

Weight Lifting with Injuries and Pain

My friend and fellow Venus- Rhonda

I have gotten injured myself and coached others though new or existing injuries. They are a fact most of us with deal with at some point in time. What I see is a lack of information on how new and existing injuries should be addressed. Most people that I see with injuries fall into two camps- too conservative or too harsh. You need to find moderate ground when dealing with aches and pains.

What to do about new injuries

1) Most doctors and therapists allow from 3 days up to a week before they actually want to see you to treat the injury. (I am talking run of the mill sprains and strains here not broken parts, or wounds.) If you tweak something during a workout or while moving around, you should apply heat/cold and wait to see if the body will rectify it without intervention. After 3 days, if the injury is getting worse or not improving- go ahead and schedule an appointment. Better safe than sorry.

I had some tendonitus last year in my foot, I wrapped it up in an ACE bandage for a week or more. Running was out of the question for that week, but squats and lunges were fine. All upper and core work were fine. I still taught my gym class. I just worked around the injury.

2) Generally, 1-2 rest days are in order. (That does not meet you need to eat like there is no tomorrow either, it is not a nutritional rest haha!)

3) You can workout despite the injury. I find that most people are overly cautious here, they would rather just rest until they are healed up. An ankle sprain for example, can take weeks to fully heal up, which could set you back a bit. You should work around the injury.

My friend Rhonda, for example, broke a bone in the top of her foot recently in a random accident just walking, on uneven surfaces which required surgery to correct. Rhonda will be in a walking boot for 5 weeks (out for a total of 8 weeks probably). She has still been going to the gym on her normal schedule in a boot to keep her upper body from regressing. Rhonda can keep up with all of her upper body work. She has found many workarounds for her lower body too- she found she is still able to do leg extensions, leg presses, hamstring curls, and wall squats just fine. 

4) Pain should be your indicator. If it hurts, stop. Pops, crackles, grinding are actually all just fine as long as there is no pain. If it hurts though, it is not okay to do whatever you were doing.

What to do about existing injuries

1) I would try to strengthen the injury through lifting before I went to a therapist. It is very likely that most of the exercises they will have you do are what you do anyway in a good lifting routine (Venus Index is one of those, I highly recommend it) The only thing the therapist might give you that is new are some additional stretches, form modification, or work arounds. Generally, most people who are experienced at the gym will already know these things, if you do not, then going to the therapist would be a good idea.

My friend Stephanie has an existing shoulder injury from her youth. She can do lots of upper body work, but some things hurt while others do not. She can do a shoulder press no problem, but not push ups and tricep dips as well for example. Lateral raises are also very challenging for her. She works around the issue and we try to sub out similar exercises for the area. She finally went to a physical therapist this year after dealing with it for most of her life. She was surprised to see what most of the work they had her doing was exactly what she was doing during her lifting workouts with VI. They did teach her some new stretches and band work that she has now incorporated into her routine. But it only took a few sessions with the therapist to learn those, she is now doing her therapy on her own. Stephanie has now improved her strength in her shoulder and is using weight (8's and 10's for lateral raises) as she is able.

2) Existing injuries are often exaserbated by muscle imbalances from avoiding the use of the limb/joint. You should do an additional set on the weaker side until balance is restored. DXA scans are the gold standard to ID imbalances- you should do progressive scans until balance is evident.

John Barban, creator of the Venus Index, also has some shoulder issues from pervious injuries. When he got a DXA scan recently, his musculature imbalance from left to right in his upper body was significant. For the next 8 weeks, he did an additional set of the weak side of anything that targeting his back/shoulder area. He then went back for a DXA and he had brought up the weaker side enough to shift the balance to neutral.

3) If you are new to lifting- do not be surprised if existing pains go away over time. Sometimes painful knees or backs are due to the lack of musculature and/or overloading. As you lose weight and get stronger from your workout routine, these aches and pains generally go away. I have seen it with backs and knees time and again. So keep trying the movement each session, if it hurts work around it, but one day you might just be able to do the movement with good form and no pain!

These are just some ideas to go off of. I am not a licensed health care provider- your treatment should always be in conjunction with a physician's care. The good news is that the setback is just temporary. Any muscle that shrinks during your healing time will respond quickly; you will be back to where you started much more quickly than the amount of time that it took you to get there initially.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Blueberry Peach Microwave Protein Pancake

I go through food phases, I get stuck on one thing and make it almost daily... until I try something else after a bit that I love.... then I focus on the new thing eating it daily. Phase repeats itself. I called it "food fixation," do you do this too?

This recipe is my latest food fixation. I have been eating it almost daily for about 3 weeks now. It came about while moving when I did not have a blender unpacked to make my favorite protein pancakes. Waaaa. Well then one day, I decided that I could probably mash up the stuff with a fork and I could replace the oats with whey powder to give it even more protein! And voila. A new food fixation was born.

I tried it with several variations (including chocolate whey, bananas in the syrup too, just peach, just blueberries) and this is my favorite.

Blueberry Peach Microwave Protein Pancake

Makes 1 serving

The stuff-

  • 1/4 cup sugar free pancake syrup
  • 1/4 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup peaches
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey powder (I used Body Fortress Whey Isolate in Vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt (I used Great Value)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

What you do-

Put the blueberries, peaches, and syrup into a microwave safe bowl.

Microwave on high for 1.5 minutes or until warmed through.

In a microwave safe plate- mash together the whey protein, egg whites, and banana half... then stir well to incorporate.

Microwave on high for 2-2.5 minutes until the pancake sets and is not liquid in the center.

Top the pancake with Greek yogurt, syrup/fruit mixture, and cinnamon.

Nutritional stats-

For 1 serving as pictured
  • Cals- 291
  • Carbs- 42 g
  • Fat- 1 g
  • Protein- 49 g

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Banana Spinach Protein Shake

This is my very favorite way to have my protein in a shake when I am in a hurry. It tastes wonderful and is high in protein and veggies!

I have tried many other varieties and this is the one I come back to. It tastes like banana-chocolate-peanut butter!

I promise the spinach is hidden- you get your veggies in secret. In fact- I like to drink my shake in a big foam cup so that I cannot see the spinach. I am weird. I know.

We just moved, by the way. And this was my go-to breakfast while packing and unpacking. These are the last pictures from my old house, cannot wait to show you my new kitchen! It has wonderful light and great bones. The countertops and walls need redone at some point, but otherwise I love it!

My Favorite Banana Spinach Protein Shake
1 serving (32 oz)

The stuff-
1/2 banana peeled and frozen- preferably
1 handful spinach- fresh or frozen
8 oz unsweetened soy milk (I like the unsweetened vanilla)
3 handfuls of ice
1 scoop chocolate peanut butter whey powder (vanilla is also good)
Optional- 1 tbsp pb2 and 1 tsp creatine monohydrate

What you do-
In a large blender- blend the banana, spinach, and soy milk on high until it comes together. Then add 1 handful of ice at a time- blending after each addition. Then add the whey, and optional items. Blending until thick and creamy without lumps.

Yup this is what goes in my lunch drink cups I save!
Makes approx 32 ounces.
Nutritional stats per serving
  • Cals- 202
  • Carbs- 18 g
  • Fat- 3 g
  • Protein- 26 g