Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Tendinitis, middle age, and GS
Since taking office as the DA, I'm not able to train for GS like I used to. It's not so much the time commitment - I exercise every morning before breakfast. The true limiting factor is the energy requirement to sustain that kind of training. Simply put, lifting kettlebells is like sprinting up a steep hill. It's hard to "ease" into it, or to work at a low intensity. You're either busting your butt or you're not. There's no halfway. I've written some posts about my struggles with tendinitis that first surfaced in 2011. For kettlebell sport lifters, it generally manifests itself as a soreness or even sharp pain in one or both elbows. And that's when the fun starts. Since I wrote my blog posts about my tendinitis struggles, several lifters have contacted me about their own experiences, and many have asked for advice. Given how many have asked, I thought I'd write this to help them and anyone else who faces the same struggles. The greatest asset of a kettlebell sport athlete is a solid endurance base. You can get that base from almost any aerobic activity. Running is the traditional form of GS crosstraining and endurance building, but it can also include rowing or cross country skiing or anything that provides a good endurance base. Considering that we're talking about overuse injuries, it's probably not a bad idea to do a variety of activities to keep any kind of overuse injury from developing. But relying on your GS exercises themselves for your endurance base? Forget about it. Why? Because... but it never truly goes far away. Yeah, so this is the worst part. Once you get tendinitis, you will always be subject to it coming back. Even after you're cleared by your doctor, even after you've returned to GS and broken all of your old records...it can come back. And if you don't monitor your activity to ensure you aren't training too hard too often, you are guaranteeing that it will come back sooner rather than later. The sad fact is that tendinitis hits athletes "of a certain age". Call it an arthritis or bursitis preview. But once it's a part of your life, you're going to have to deal with it. but it does mean you have to be intentional about how you train. What I recommend is training like you're going to run 5K road races. Run at least three days a week, and walk on the other days. Squats are a good way to maintain strength, although even deadlifts or swings can aggravate your injury if you haven't completely healed. Once all symptoms have gone away (for at least a month), then, and only then return to the kettlebell sport lifts. Use light weights as you resume, and even after you are hitting your old numbers with your competition weight kettlebells, continue to spend a large part of your time using lighter weights at higher rpms. Monitor your training carefully, and any day that you feel any soreness either do a sprint set with lighter bells, go for a run, or both.