As I sit here with a heat patch on my lower back, I have to fess up:
I broke all three of my rules for avoiding injury while squatting today.
Like most squat days, I wasn’t feeling it this morning but I sucked it up and got under the bar. By the time my morning double espresso shot kicked in, I was feeling half decent.
I was loading my plates for the work set when I broke the first rule for avoiding injury:
Rule #1: Focus on Your Lifts (i.e. Don’t Check Facebook!)
In my case I wasn’t on Facebook, but on Slack trying to finish up a conversation with a business partner overseas. I forgot that multitasking and squatting don’t mix.
Finishing that conversation took longer than expected, so I rushed through a useless warm-up.
Rather than close my laptop and warm up again, I decided to jump straight into my work set.
I’m a hacker, right? I’ve got this!
On my third rep of my work set (I was aiming for five reps since I nailed four last week), I felt a slight twinge in my lower back on the right hand side.
Not wanting to risk it, I racked the bar after just three reps and lowered the weight.
I had good intentions when I sat back down to finish my Slack conversation and let my back rest, but looking back now, I realized I broke the second rule:
Rule #2: Stop Immediately
I was working through my second set when I realized something definitely wasn’t right.
Deep in the hole I felt a searing pain shoot up the right side of my lower back.
I deloaded and contemplated repping out on front squats to “make up for” my shitty lift. Thankfully, I made the wise decision in that moment and pulled the ripcord.
You’re only going to add insult to injury if you insist on lifting when you hurt yourself. Nobody is handing out brownie points for pushing through until the end.
Make the smart decision to go home and begin the recovery process, and while you’re driving home (or walking out of your home gym), keep in mind our next rule:
Rule #3: Don’t Beat Yourself Up Over It
Look, I get it: Leaving the gym after an incomplete workout sucks.
Whether you were trying to be a hero under the bar and injured yourself, or the gym is too full to get your workout done in time, leaving the gym defeated can ruin your day.
But when you’re injured, you can’t let your mentality take a hit, too. The mind has a way of replaying our failures and making us feel ashamed, but you have to move on.
I’m sharing my experience from today so you don’t make the same mistake I did.
Recap of 3 Rules for Avoiding Injury
To recap, here are the three rules for avoiding injury in the gym:
- When you’re at the gym, block out all distractions and focus 100% on your lifts.
- If you do tweak something, stop immediately, go home and start the recovery process.
- Don’t beat yourself up. Come back stronger and avoid that mistake in the future.