Workout Injuries: Get Hurt and You’ll Learn Quickly

Quick Tips

In the mid-90’s there was a band called Marcy’s Playground.  Marcy’s Playground had a hit song called “Sex and Candy”, which turned out to be their only hit song (name me another one if you disagree).  Marcy’s Playground is what most people would refer to as a One Hit Wonder.  There’s nothing wrong with being a One Hit Wonder, but I bet if you were to ask the band how they feel about being a One Hit Wonder, they would probably tell you that they had wished their career have lasted a little bit longer than it did.

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It would be a great gig spinning One Hit Wonders all day long.

Marcy’s Playground, and other One Hit Wonder music groups, remind me of the first time that you experience a traumatic injury in the gym as a result of working out.  Your relationship with physical exertion should be a lifelong experience, not a one year experience.  We often forget that there building a body (that looks, feels and functions properly) is a process.  There is no instant gratification in training, although the “hardcore” training seen would have you think otherwise.

It doesn’t have to be an immediate injury (acute pain), like dropping a dumbbell on your foot from waist height, but more of a nagging lower back pain that’s built up over time (chronic pain).

Acute pain = sudden injury like a broken bone (maybe from bombing that dumbbell on your foot)

Chronic pain = persisting pain such as low back pain or

Here is a nice definition of both types of pain from a world-renowned hospital.

I picture acute pain as the classic weight drop on the foot, or the overhead snatch that goes terribly wrong, nearly ripping your arms from their sockets.

Not funny, but a reality in a lot of gyms.

Acute pain hurts right away and you know exactly where it came from.  There is no guessing as to what caused the pain.  This is my own definition.  I speak from experience.  It’s the kind of pain that you kick yourself for causing in the first place.

I commonly think of chronic pain as a type of gym injury that is the result of months or years of build up.  Maybe poor technique, lack of rest or something else contributes to the pain.  Squatting didn’t hurt your back initially, but suddenly you’ve developed low back pain.  Maybe you woke up one day and you felt a shooting pain while you bent down to tie your shoes.  You didn’t have that pain the day before, but you sure as hell have it now.

You’ll never appreciate how stupid a workout injury really is you experience it first hand.  Again, I speak from experience.  When I was in college, the hockey team was handed a poorly designed training program that required us to bench press about 3x the amount that we pulled (causing muscle imbalances), along with boatloads of sit-ups, bicycles, hanging leg raises, machine work, etc.  I followed the program down to the last rep, and by the end of the Summer, I could hardly bend over to put my socks on.  My lower back was shot.

Sure, I got strong in the lifts, but I also wrecked my back and spent at least a month sidelined.

It sucked and it cost my parents money to fix it.  Lucky for me, my parents supported me financially, but you?  Chances are quite high that your injury treatments are coming right out of your paycheck.  Ever consider that?

That’s why I preach about the importance of safety.  I want you to push it to your limits, but I also want you to clearly define what your limits are.  If you step over those boundaries, an injury might be lurking nearby.

The first time that you hear your back pop while attempting a “hardcore” workout, or you tweak your knee on the 200th jump of your “Craziest Most Insane Warrior Workout”, you’ll immediate appreciate the message that I was trying to project to you.

I am all about getting people up off their butts and moving, but not at the expense of blowing out joints and causing pain.

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Workout injuries remind me of when a parent recommends you to avoid hanging with the troublemakers in high school .  At the time, you can’t figure out why your parents could  just label and mis-understand your “friends”- you’re just trying to be cool-  but the second you’re found to be guilty by association when alcohol or cigarettes start appearing and you’re under-age, you immediately understand the message they were trying to teach you.  It’s a hard lesson to learn, but a lesson that is learned never the less.

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If you’re a retired athlete and now a professional in something other than sports (career, Mother, Father, etc), I highly recommend that you avoid killing yourself in the gym for no good reason.  It’s not worth it, especially considering that some of the injuries in the gym are completely preventable and can have lasting affects.  Yes, some injuries will be severe enough to cause permanent damage to your body.

Do you really want that?

I’m not here to scare you, I am here to get you to think.  Maybe re-think is the right choice of words.  If you find yourself awkwardly hoisting a fully loaded barbell overhead as your knees shake, back begins to cave and your lungs feel like their about to pop out… it might be time to take a step back and try and justify that experience.

Often, you’ll find that going “extreme” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and certainly not necessary to sculpt a body that looks as good as it feels.

You should not have to donate your body  in order to consider a workout to be effective.  It’s not necessary.  It’s a big misconception in the training world right now.  The funny thing is that often times, your body will give you various clues when something’s not right, even before you experience the hurt.

*** On the flip side, you can get hurt doing anything physical in life.  Tripping down the stairs, stepping on a tack or burning your hand on a hot pan will all cause pain.  Please do you best to leave those comments in your back pocket, because that isn’t the point of this article.

Train hard, train smart.  Don’t be Marcy’s Playground, be U2.



Cheers to avoid unnecessary injuries!


—> Coming up:  My Glutes are Weak!!!


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