Pprofessional Development

[Partially recycled from something I wrote earlier this year.]

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As a PT, I know something about physical pain. Our subjective experience of a real or perceived threat to the body is vital for survival. Hysteresis, mechanical overload, and nociceptors. Spinothalamic tract. Sensory cortex, prostoglandins, blah blah blah. Blah.

Substance P, really? They couldn't come up with a better name than that? Next time the biologists or whoever are naming neurotransmitters, I hope they check in with me.

I recently had another continuing education on pain. The course was free but extremely valuable and immediately applicable to the clinic. Getting hurt regularly (but not too hurt) earns no C.E.U.'s, but is probably one of the most valuable things a PT can do for his patients.

I'm committed to my job like that. Yeah, your welcome.

So it's early New Years morning. I hear the kids stirring. Then someone calls for help, but Amy's left early for work that morning, so there's no use in pretending I'm still asleep. It's on.

My back is killing me. Lumbar derangement. Bend and extend and reach and lift and up and down for the children, how has any spine ever survived parenting?


Yes, the doctor of rehabilitative medicine; the trainer of fine athletes; the strength and conditioning zealot; the rec athlete and wannabee writer...has teeth gnashing, butt cheek clenching, advil chomping back pain.

In the clinic I would ask, "what number would you rate the pain on a scale from 0 to 10?" "Zero is no pain at all, and 10 is the worst pain that you could ever imagine, you would immediately go to the emergency room."

And do you know how I'd answer the smarmy PT today? "To hell with your scale." It hurts enough that I reach about half way toward the fridge, then just toss the gallon of milk at the highest shelf, hoping for the best. It hurts enough that washing my face is a major upper body workout.

It hurts enough that I snap at a two year old after dropping his cup of milk again. Slow motion kicks in as the cup rolls toward the edge of the table. I pause before making a weak attempt at rising out of the chair to catch the cup.

"Nnnnnnoooooooo!" as the cup slow motion crashes with a dull thud on the linoleum.

Now I have to reach all the way (deep breath) ...down...to...the...floor. Ugh.

How did I get in this predicament?

The previous week I had came across a "serious challenge" for the strength and power athlete. A test, if you will, for the few meatheads who found the supposedly killer 300 Workout far too easy.

The challenge did give me a bit of the butterflies thinking about it. "Yeah, but I'm not like those massive 270-pound guys. Okay, okay, no excuses for trying."

The test is this:

Bench Press: 275 lbs. for 21 reps
Pull-ups: bodyweight plus 50 lbs. for 21 reps
Bicep Curls: 120 lbs. for 21 reps
Deadlift: 405 lbs. for 21 reps

The well known trainer guy who made this up says that completing all reps in less than 20 minutes is stellar; less than 12:30 would be "world class."

"Hmmm. Word class, eh?"

A day later, after a good warm up involving snow and Luke, then a few minutes of lesser weights on the movements in the test, I made off on my journey. The Bench, Chins, and Curls were pounded out in just under 10 minutes. I took each of them for 10 reps then a short rest, six reps then a longer rest, then 5 reps. Hard work, but doable.

After that was at least 60 ticks to load and position the bar for the Deadlifts.

I got cocky, even a little mad, for the purposes of training intensity. I haven't deadlifted at all consistently since about 2002, when I would do 465 for sets of 6 to 8. Since I can now squat 480 lbs for many reps, and the rule is that you should be able to deadlift about 20% more than you can squat, 405 is no big deal. Right?

My first pull from the floor felt like lifting a train. Like, the whole thing, not just the engine.


Reps 2 and 3 came with a ton of effort.

"Just have to catch the groove, I guess."

I pulled hard at rep 4 but never lifted the weight.

"Now THAT wasn't good."

There was optimism and hope, in another attempt; another stab, because that's how much of a hard head I am.

"Not even close."

I sat down for a minute then walked my hands up my legs to achieve the weeping willow position. The walk of shame up the stairs to the medicine cabinet was my finishing move for the workout.


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Heal thy self. Shyeah. It really is good for your PT to know pain, not just know about pain.

So can I go mountain biking on company time?

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