Injury Proofing

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Recently, I have been on forums. So many forums that might just turn your head around so many times you’d be far too dizzy. So what has this post to do with forums?

There are a few blaring mistakes too many lifters make. This post is going to go over a few of the most common questions and misconceptions that are out there. Hopefully many of you will pass it on to a friend in need; and hopefully many of you won’t take this post for granted and research what I say. I want you to question my word and find something better!

Before I get into the post, I want to describe how this blog post is going to be formatted. Each movement is going to be addressed, most common issues are going to be viewed and corrections will be outlined. This is going to be one long a** post. Look through it if you’d like, concentrate on what applies to you first and foremost.

I was going to post this on separate forums but I figure this is the best and most efficient mode of delivery. So what am I talking about? Most forums have rehab/injury threads which I read and review religiously.What I have found is a trend. Every forum has their big lifters, others have their lifters and the rest have those guys that wish they could lift. All-in-all though, everyone come across an injury at some point (I, at the moment, kinked my back and need to follow up on myself to fix what is wrong). The most common injuries are seen through movements. The main movements in the weightlifting world are the squat, deadlift, bench press and rows. Each movement has its own injuries and pains. Here is what I see most (in no particular order)…

First and foremost, please roll out. Check this video out here for a quick and basic tutorial on rolling out. For more information, check out the post here.

[youtube=Day 3: Rolling Out - YouTube]

The Squat:

The staple movement for the legs. Quad building, fat shredding, injury inducing. The most common complaint for the squat is knee pain.

The knee is a single planar joint. What does this mean? It can move in one direction. It’s mobility is dictated by both the joint above and below as well as muscle tautness above and below. Now you ask yourself ‘What does this mean for me?’ Since the knee has very limited mobility, knee pain is almost never generated from the knee. Yes, the knee might be tracking to far laterally, medially or the Q-angle might be far too great, but this is never caused by the knee. Shaving your patella down 3mm or shaving anything else down will not fix tightness.

With all that being said, how do we fix knee pain? If you follow Cressey, Boyle, Cook, etc. you know where to look. The most common issues surrounding the knee is perpetrated from either the ankle or the hips.

What do we look for in the ankle? For starters, ankle mobility. If your ankle is not allowing you to flex your foot upward toward your tibia (shin), the squat is f*cked. What does this create? Poor ankle mobility can result in fallen arches, poor knee tracking and a terrible looking squat.

*Side note (skip it if you wish…) * What happens when women wear heels? Have you ever really watched a woman’s posture in heels and not? What about in everyday, inflexible shoes? The feet are where every movement, or just about every movement, originates from. Walking should account for an upwards of 3000+ reps a day. If you cannot walk properly, everything is thrown off. The simplistic approach to all your problems is if you can’t walk properly, everything else is thrown off kilter which ends up showing itself as referred pain throughout your body.

Follow Kelly and your mobility issues are more than taken care of! Here are 2 videos that you should watch back-to-back to gain some insight. Start small and work your way up. No point in being a hero and f*ck yourself up even more!

[youtube=Going around the ankle | Feat. Kelly Starrett | MobilityWOD - YouTube]

[youtube=Super friend ankle mob | Feat. Kelly Starrett | MobilityWOD - YouTube]

Secondly, the ankle needs stability. If you have fallen arches and yet your ankles are supple, they might not be stable. This then leads to similar results and in the end, terrible movement patterns for your squat. Will all this fix your knee pain? Probably not. But will it help with it? Certainly. If your ankles are off, everything is off. I will not get into too much more about the ankle at the moment although we could get into the base of the foot and into the toes if necessary (which will be kept for another post).

Here’s a quick and easy test to see if your ankles are culprits in the grand scheme of things! Lay on your back and have a partner apply pressure wherever they like on your calves. This isn’t simply saying ‘Get someone to rub your calves and massage you’. They need to apply pressure with their thumb wherever they like, not just the meaty parts of the calf. If little to moderate pressure is painful, if not excruciating, you’ve got yourself a winner! Calves, the gastroc, soleus, post tib and anterior tib are all hit hardest when you aren’t walking properly. With so many reps performed a day, tightness, weakness and compensations are sure to happen.

Check out the video of rolling out with a baseball to get things started on the right track!

[youtube=Day 1: Rolling The Foot - YouTube]

[youtube=Day 2: The Baseball - YouTube]

The hips are a subject that could be written on forevermore. I’ll try to bull-doze through the hips although I will be dedicating posts to hip mobility solely in the near future!

The hips have, or should have, some of the most extensive mobility in the body. Internal rotation, external rotation, aBduction, aDduction, flexion and extension are some of the many movements in a ball and socket joint, and everything must be working properly.

Stretching, mobilizing and activating are key to proper hip mobility. If the problem isn’t originating from the foot, all my money is on the hips!

[youtube=Measuring Hip Internal Rotation: Importance for Baseball Pitchers - YouTube]

Rolling out is number one! Follow this video to start it all off:

[youtube=Day 3: Rolling Out - YouTube]

Then stretch. If you have rotational issues, I would advise stretching your internal and external rotators. Now you’re asking yourself, what they hell does this mean? Piriformis is a starting block to your woes.

As seen on the left, sit up tall and cross one leg over the other. Apply a little pressure on the knee, not too much or else you’re applying huge torque on a joint which moves in the perpendicular plane, and lean forward. Enjoy!

Stretching the glutes, hip flexors, groin and hamstring along with the piriformis allows you to obtain a base for your hips. Test your squat before and after stretching. Watch for pain decrease and, if possible, videotape yourself from the back as you watch yourself in a mirror in front. What this will allow you to do it watch for poor form, aid in your proprioception and watch for energy leaks (more on that in a later post).

Mobility is they key word in almost every post. Don’t mobilize under a load, you aren’t Superman. What you cannot do can always be regressed. If you’re a big lifter, you have the potential for even bigger problems. Suck it up, assume you look like a girl and get down to it. You’ll come out of it all with better posture, amazing movement patterns and bigger numbers. Guess what happens next! You’re big buddies are not looking like the little girl you thought you looked like.

A word of wisdom though, don’t stop. If you think you’re fixed, you aren’t. If people tell you that everything looks amazing, why stop what has already worked? KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Keep what works, leave out what doesn’t.

The hip has a few movements that are crucial for mobilization. Then we get into activation. Check out the following videos to learn and understand what you need to do. This is where I’ll stop yapping!

[youtube=Muscle Stiffness and Athlete Mobility | Feat. Kelly Starrett | Ep. 280 | MobilityWOD - YouTube]

[youtube=Lunge Matrix - YouTube]

[youtube=High Knee Walk to Spiderman with Hip Lift and Overhead Reach - YouTube]

That would be the basics. Don’t do it for time, and don’t kill it on reps. The basis is for you to feel warm and comfortable. Ideally, for spiderman I love having clients do it for length but if you don’t have an area with the yardage marked off, perform 10 good reps a side. The lunge matrix would be for 5-10 per side and anything else, well you can figure it out.


The basics for the deadlifts are similar needs to those of the squats. Core control, ankle and hip mobility and stability as well as proper movement patterns. If you take what I have written and apply it to your deadlifts, almost all is fixed.

Moreover, the deadlift is in serious need of glute activation.

Single leg glute activation through bridging and single leg deadlifts are the most bang-for-your-buck if you want to boost your numbers. Boost them properly that is!

[youtube=- YouTube]

[youtube=One Leg SLDL - YouTube]

Bench Press:

Shoulder pain in bench pressing is quite common. Why guys are too manly to put that big weight down and say ‘Ouch’ boggles my mind. There are quite a few things that can go wrong in a bench press. If you have been one of those smarter guys who regressed the weight yet still feel a nice pinch in the shoulder, you are not alone.

The bench press is the staple to a big man’s program. We all like the look of our chesticles and do all we can to make 'em pop. But what happens to the rest? Where do you stand when it comes to synergists, stabilizers and antagonists?

The chest doesn’t work alone in the pushing motion. Shoulders and triceps have major influences on the movement. Most importantly though, the scaps are the most highly influential on your bench press.

Let’s not take leaps and bounds though, first thing’s first: Rolling out.

[youtube=Day 2: The Baseball - YouTube]

The pecs need to be stretched as well as the lats after rolling out. Then we mobilize. Here are a few points to take in before I watching the videos:

T-spine mobility is usually the biggest factor for your tight pecs. Can’t stand up properly? Tightness isn’t helping. T-spine is being affected. Kyphosis is a major problem when you want to bench.

Scap stability and scap retraction need to be perfected before benching. If you aren’t stable, what happens to the weights? One arm ends up higher than the other, one is weaker than another, etc.

Lastly, if you don’t have a back, you have no base. The problem doesn’t originate solely from the scaps. Just like the feet are your base in most movements, your back in total - the scaps, t-spine and other musculature - are your base.

Here’s some of what you can do to help yourself!

[ Scapular Wall Slides - YouTube]

[youtube=Thoracic Extensions on Foam Roller - YouTube]

[youtube=Upper Body: Mobility/Activation/Power Tri-set - YouTube]

Lastly, rows are the antagonistic motion to the bench press. Try some inverted rows!

[youtube=TRX Rows - YouTube]


The row and the bench are similar in certain respects. The needs for both are scap health, scap retraction and t-spine mobility, basically. There is so much more to every movement and motion.

Follow the simple steps and you’re golden. Don’t and you’ll be pushing girly weights the rest of your life!

Some words of wisdom! I have posted on this before and will copy/paste it here because it is so desperately needed when it comes to your movement health. The following was taken from my post entitled ‘Simon Says’.

Its called training ADD, get checked. Iâ??m just kidding, its not a true disease, but it should be. Everyone believes they are trainers and do you know what that gets you? Baffled. Wanting to apply Everything. Mike Robertson states it best in his article â??Do You Have Training ADD?â??

â??You start off on your journey, and you make some decent progress. When youâ??re at the pool, on the beach, or in a wife-beater, you look great.

But then you hit the gym, and realize youâ??re getting smaller. The horror!

So what do you do? Well itâ??s time to bulk up and put some muscle back on. You go from weighing and measuring all your foods incessantly to the â??see foodâ?? diet.

Along the way, you get diverted again â?? after all, what good is it to have muscle but not a commensurate level of strength?

So again you switch course, and focus on building strength versus just size.

And yet again, progress is being had, but to your dismay you look in the mirror only to realize not youâ??re soft and puffy, and well, that just wonâ??t cut it!

So you head back towards a fat loss program.

Do you see the lunacy in all this?â??

See where your behavior has brought you? Nowhere! Keep to your program, 4 weeks minimum to see where it has brought you, if anywhere. Once at that 4 week marker, apply what you must to your program. Add or subtract to it. Whatever worked, add some more or keep it the same. If something didnâ??t work, take it out of there! You just donâ??t need something that will hold you back.

Stay with what works. Dismiss what doesn’t. Most importantly, follow things though to the end. If you quit, what might have worked won’t and would never know.

Check out the post here for overhead pressing movements.

Remember, this post was to cover the basics. Do it or don’t, it is up to you. I suggest you try. More is to come in the near future to dissect each movement and add any additional information needed to perform each movement efficiently without discomfort.

Train for strength. Train for health.

Keep it posted,


*There are pictures and videos that haven’t been posted. Please see the blog for the full thing.

I am not making money on any blog hits. This was done solely to help all of you guys out!