In This Chapter

V Heal thy back

Stand tall, breathe deep Inflame this > Stretch that

There's an old joke that perfectly captures how familiar we are with nagging injuries: A 92-year-old man wakes up in bed one morning and says to his wife, "I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead!" Ida replies, "Herman, what are ya talkin' about? You're lying next to me in bed." Herman says, "I'm telling you: I'm dead! I'm dead!" She asks, "How do you know?" and he says, "Nothing hurts!"

Injuries, injuries, injuries. What a strange and wonderful world it would be without them. First, what would we complain about? What would our grandparents discuss with their cronies? And finally, what would we do with all of the healthcare practitioners like Deidre whose livelihood depends on those very same injuries?

There are, of course, many reasons why we get injured. Let's take a look at the more common ways injuries occur.

Injuries occur from musculoskeletal imbalances—swimmers or gym rats who overdevelop their pectoral muscles without regard for their traps, rhomboids, or rear delts, for example. The potential here for shoulder problems is great. There are also folks who have skeletal imbalances that can cause problems unless addressed—for example, scoliosis or leg length discrepancies.

Attempts to do more than the body is capable of doing can lead to injury. Take for example guys who try to impress their friends by bench pressing 300 pounds when they normally bench press 240. That extra 60 pounds can be enough to cause injury to the rotator cuff muscles that can last a long, long time.

Doing too much of one thing, with or without improper technique, is also a source of injuries. Even something as seemingly innocuous as typing can lead to a host of problems.

Regardless of the cause, we are here to assist you in the various ways to avoid injury. We'll also discuss ways to recognize what may cause an injury and finally what to do when you are ailing. Having said that, know that this chapter is not to be used as a diagnostic tool. If you are injured, the best thing to do is to go to a medical professional and get it checked out.

From our perspective, however, the most important thing to remember is to exercise according to the guidelines that we've laid out as well as to recognize what potential problems may befall you. (As far as we're concerned, preventive medicine is the best kind.) The most important thing to note is that exercise should not be painful. And don't make like a wounded war hero; never exercise with pain or through pain. Working out is supposed to be restorative—a sign of care—and not punishment for an imperfect body. While it's ironic, it should come as no surprise that our own worst enemy in the injury department is ourselves.

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