Hardcore or Dumbass?

For those of you who read my log, you know I’ve been struggling with a nagging groin/hip injury. For those of you who don’t, you’re missing out. I’m a pretty funny guy. I probably have the best sense of humor ever! No joke.

In January of 2007, I started doing a lot of raw squatting with my competition stance. Of course, I never warmed up properly or stretched after. I just got up at 8:00 a.m., got in my truck, drove an hour to the gym, and got under the bar and started squatting. Brilliant, right?

With all the raw squatting each week, my groin started to hurt. It always felt like it was strained and very tight. I could never seem to get it loosened up, but by Wednesday or Thursday it would feel better. On Friday, I’d jack it up benching, and then Saturday morning I’d squat and go through the same ritual the following week.

What I noticed is that after a few extra sets with the bar my groin would seem to loosen up and feel a little better. I just figured that if I did extra warm-up sets with the bar, my problem would be solved. Of course, the pain persisted, and my groin got much worse. The pain and tightness moved from the groin into the hip flexor. Basic, every day tasks like turning to walk in a different direction became exercises in pain tolerance. I couldn’t even bend down to tie my shoe. I had to move my leg around in order to get down to the laces. But, if I wanted to squat 1000 lbs, I had to deal with it. Hardcore, right?

In November of 2007, I squatted 930 lbs and stood up with 1000 lbs. I squatted 915 lbs and 955 lbs twice in my training leading up to that contest. I hit 655 lbs with a belt on a “deload” week. I was super strong, but my hip and groin were falling apart. This is where the slope became very steep and slippery.

Since then, my lifting and especially my squatting has become frustrating and non-productive. Right now, I honestly don’t think I can squat 315 lbs. What happened?

The answer is very simple. I swept my problems under the rug and hoped they’d go away. Here I am two years later squatting 5 X 5 at 135 lbs wondering and not even caring if I’ll ever squat again. Why? Some will disagree with this next statement, but I couldn’t care less. Two years ago—maybe even two months ago—my situation would’ve bothered me. Now, I just don’t care. It’s just not worth it. I’m in pain all the time. Lifting isn’t fun anymore. I hurt all week just to try and pick something up? When I bench, my hip feels like it’s going to pop out of the socket. For what?

I love powerlifting. It has meant so much to me for a number of reasons. But it has taken its toll on my body. Will I compete again? Maybe. If I feel good and healthy and mentally ready to attack training like it needs to be done. Right now, I'm trying to get myself healthy and feeling good so I can do every day things without pain.

I’ve been rambling on about the plight of Matt Rhodes. Now that I have all of you feeling sorry for me, here’s what I’m trying to explain—go see a doctor! Stop pushing through pain that persists. Of course we have pains everyday as lifters. There’s always something that bothers us whether it be sore muscles or joints or just feeling like a bag of smashed assholes. This is normal. What isn’t normal is feeling a pain for weeks at a time and trying to justify it in your head as “hardcore” or “I need to push through this.”

Lately, I’ve been trying to answer a lot more questions. As I check the “rehab” section, I keep seeing the same questions over and over—“My ... hurts. What should I do to fix it?” Or “My ... has been bothering me for ... weeks/months. Do you have any suggestions?” The list goes on and on, and you know who you are.

Go see a doctor! You aren’t tough or hardcore. You’re stupid! We all love lifting weights. If you want to have any longevity in this sport or in weightlifting at all, you need to take a step back and look at your situation. Two years ago, if I had taken one or two months off from squatting, rehabbed my leg properly, and then started to rebuild my strength again, I might have some big squat numbers to my name. As it stands, I have 930 lbs and a bunch of bombouts because I couldn’t hit depth because my hip and groin don’t move that way anymore. On top of that, my life is affected every day by my negligence toward my body, the same body that I expect to perform at a high level so I can squat 1000 lbs.

As I sit here at the computer, my hip and groin are bothering me. It isn’t anything really bad, but when I stand up, it takes me a second to straighten up. Then, I walk with a slight limp, and I’m not even a gangster! I don’t even know what “the hood” means, but I’ll be walking like a straight up “G” all because I wasn’t smart enough to take a step back, assess my injury, address it, and move forward in an effective manner to heal it.

If you have a nagging injury that you can’t seem to get rid of and ice, stretching, and a proper warm up doesn’t work, go see a doctor. If nothing you throw at it seems to make it better, go see a doctor. You might have to stop doing something for a while in order to heal it. Instead of crying that you can’t squat for two months, you should look at it as an opportunity to address some other “weaknesses” or areas that may be lagging behind. If you can’t squat for two months and your back has been an area that you feel needs some work, you can now devote a whole day to back training. Then, once you’re ready to squat again, your back is as strong as ever. Now that your lower body is healed, your squat starts to take off like never before.

There’s always a silver lining. Sometimes you have to dig for it. Just don’t let an injury go untreated for too long. If you love lifting weights like I do, these untreated injuries might mean the end of that weightlifting career, and we don’t want that.

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