by Sean St. Onge
This past week, on the final week and phase of my current training program, I made a few boo boos that hopefully you can learn from. Now I will preface by stating what I did was not the norm for myself and I never advise it.
Admittedly, I was performing bench presses.
There, I said it. What??? I’m a moderate meat head at heart. I actually, up until the past 5 months, have not used the bench press in almost 5 years. After 11 years of wrestling, professional wrestling, and countless “it matters to me" softball tournaments, suffice it to say I have done some irrefutable damage to my shoulders (specifically, my right).
So, by this point, after being in a training field you might think I would be smart enough to...
A: NOT BENCH WITHOUT A SPOTTER
B: TAKE A HANDOFF FROM SAID SPOTTER
C: ummm NOT BENCH WITH OUT A SPOTTER!!!
I am very much in the camp of trainers that feel that having a handoff of the bar to the exerciser is paramount as it allows proper “lining up” for hand/wrist position on the bar. It also helps to load the upper back and lats into the bench, which in turn allows your heels to dig into the floor, and finally, the abs and glutes engage. And you thought benching was just a chest exercise….tisk tisk.
What occurred was on my 3rd set of warm up weight I lost my lat activation which caused my trapezius (neck muscles) to shrug up and upon the descent of the weight, it crushed almost all 225 pounds into my right anterior deltoid (shoulder). So not only did the injury start on the descent of the drill, now I had to somehow get this weight off of me. In doing so, I over shrugged my traps, strained my wrist flexors, forearms, and biceps just to complete the awful rep and get the weight back to the rack.
After a few choice words, fear ran over me as I realized I just escaped a bad situation but still had some rough times ahead of me seeing I could not raise my right arm past my hips without excruciating pain. I completed immediate soft tissue work to my chest, forearms, biceps, and trap muscles. I also performed forearm wall slides at 135 degrees, and some prone trap raises.
Then I played it smart by outsourcing to a pain management pro…enter Dr. Vincent Brunelle (Dr. Vin is a long time mentor, friend, and someone I always refer out to, especially if I have a problem).
Anytime you can provide people with an exercise that will help with posture that includes an epic comic book superhero is always on the top of my to do list. So here it is!
For lack of a better name…..The IRONMAN Take Off Pose:
Got this little ditty from Dr. Vincent Brunelle.
What does it do? Per Dr. Vin-
It focuses on the back arm line. This focuses on the entire arm extensors, into rear deltoid, rhomboid and the entire trapezius into T12. This creates scapular stability allowing for better thoracic motion, more stable glenohumeral motion, and with its relationship at the T12 it has a direct impact on the diaphragm. Endless applications for this one. Not bad for a super hero image.
In English, what the good doctor and I are saying is that “it’s really cool.” The majority of people spend time in front of a computer, ipad, iphone, car, and ride off into the sunset a part of #DeskJockeyNation. Some could argue that your chest, biceps, and hips are the three tightest muscle groups on the average person. With that said, the “IRONMAN Take Off Pose” would help address a few of these issues.
What to do: Start in a standing position and retract your scapulae (shoulder blades) and engage your lat muscles (latissimus dorsi, Latin for big ass back wings). Be sure to keep your hands slightly in front of your thighs. Concentrate on pushing your palms to the floor, and spreading your fingers as far apart as possible. Be mindful of the pesky rib flare, and keep your abs tight, yet maintain good breathing technique by filling your nose and belly full of air and exhaling through your mouth. Making the sweet sound effect isn’t necessary, yet if you try too hard you could disrupt the breathing pattern. Perform this at least 3-5 times per day (maybe more if you work in a seated position) for up to 20 seconds.
So the tall and very short of this is…
1. Do NOT use the bench press without a spotter, especially with challenging weight. (It is really O.K. you will not use your meat head card having a hand off and spot)
2. Utilize a pain management professional
3. Try out the “IRONMAN Take Off Pose” because…it works and it makes you look cool!
SOAP BOX OUT…