“Exhale to you bend your elbows and lower Chaturanga…” the yoga instructor murmured.
Normally, this would be when I’d try to ignore the burning sensation in my eyes from the sweat pouring down my face, but this class was different. My right forearm and wrist were engulfed by searing nerve pain and I couldn’t feel my fingers. Sweat was the least of my worries.
A smarter person would have stopped right there, but I powered through taking the occasional child’s pose as a “modification.” By the end of class, I was in so much pain I could barely grip the steering wheel to drive home.
This was the moment when my chronic pain and repetitive stress injuries became so debilitating that I could no longer ignore them. It was also the beginning of a 5-year journey where I’d work my way back to function and ultimately a level of strength and fitness that I didn’t know was possible.
It got worse before it got better though.
In the coming months, the nerve pain and numbness migrated to my left arm. It went from an isolated incident during push-ups and in a yoga class to a constant stabbing sensation that kept me up at night. I could barely carry my grocery bags, let alone a dumbbell. Typing and texting made my hands go numb.
I was a mess.
Desperate to feel better, I went down the recovery rabbit hole. I tried physical therapy, massage, and occupational therapy…acupuncture, chiropractic, and foam rolling…somatics, corrective exercise, and Pilates.
I even met with a freaking shaman.
You already know the punchline to this story. I got better. I regained my fitness, but I did it the hardest, slowest, most ineffective way possible and spent several years unnecessarily suffering,
If I could impart two insights to my past self, it would be this:
1. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on state of the art recovery techniques, massage school, or overpriced continuing education and bodywork trainings. YYou just need more rest than you want to give your body and the right mix of exercises and recovery modalities.
2. You are NOT broken.
However, if you’re experiencing pain during exercise, you’re probably missing something important from your workout “diet.”
Here’s where I went wrong in push-ups and my workouts when I was in my twenties.
I was a former competitive cheerleader and a cardio junkie. My workouts were made up of two things: High intensity, high impact aerobics and stretching.
What I was missing? Strength and mobility, which turns out are the foundation for…everything (movement, fitness, performance!)
I was very flexible in my lower back and shoulders. However, as someone who had spent several years tied to a desk (how else do you collect college degrees?) I had stiff wrists and an even stiffer upper back.
I was also weak and unstable. Aside from lifting 8 lb dumbbells in a group fitness class, I didn’t strength train.
So, when I started taking high intensity cardio classes that involved dozens of burpees and yoga flow classes that required putting all my bodyweight over my wrists for hundreds of repetitions, my body went NOPE! And it triggered a cascade of pain and injuries.
By chasing intensity, I built my fitness like a Jenga Tower. I made the tower as high as possible and then started pulling pieces from the bottom to push it even further. Eventually it fell. I didn’t wreck my joints, but I also felt like crap for years while I tried to figure out why I had so much pain and where I had gone wrong.
The good news? If you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey, this experience is avoidable. And if you’re like me and you’ve “Been there. Done that” and right now your joints don’t feel so hot, this is fixable.
Turns out, getting fit, mastering push-ups, even aesthetic goals, don’t require so much drama. You don’t have to live in a gym or suffer, ready to puke, while some trainer screams her head off reality TV style.
Mostly, fitness just requires:
- Mobility (aka the ability to move your joints well with control) in a few key places
- Strength work
- A little cardio thrown (aka…walking. Though if you like to cycle or sprint, sweet)
This is why I created PUSH IT REAL GOOD.
Even though this information is out there, it was hard to find all in one place, and the way it was delivered was…complicated + boring (aka I theoretically learned this in my exercise science classes in college, but missed it, because I detest power points and textbooks).
PUSH IT REAL GOOD includes a digital book, which explains WHERE you need mobility/stability in certain joints, WHY when you’re missing it things can go ouch, and HOW you can work on these things.
And if you don’t like reading, the PUSH IT REAL GOOD Strength Training Program is a way to build the foundation that you need to feel good AND master push-ups, burpees…and pretty much anything else you want to pursue movement wise if you so desire.
Aaaa-aaand, the workouts only take around 45 minutes a couple times a week, so no life events required 😉
Interested? Click here to get all the details.
In short, this whole no pain, no gain thing is crazy. Sure, fitness takes a bit of work. Push-ups are hard, but suffering isn’t required. Ask me how I know 😉