Following up on my journal from yesterday, today I began my workout with 7 strict pull-ups. Two months ago I could do 5. 40% improvements for my workout frequency are pretty good. I was also able to do 10 chest dips with full range of motion, which is about 10 more than I could do two months ago. It also leads me nicely into the main part of this journal. It's mostly about a sore muscle, but the end ties in to generally adapting to things that are unplanned.
On my 10th dip, I went too deep, my shoulders gave, and I had to catch myself and restart the last rep. When I went to start my second set, my right rhomboid told me it was a bad idea. It wasn't a very strong pain, but it was enough to take notice. I don't know whether it was the result of having to catch myself after the failed dip or if it was just a bit of overuse from the back workout that came before, but it was there nonetheless.
I did a couple more dips with less depth to see if the pain would persist or if it was a one-time thing, and it persisted, so I stopped. I tried another easier exercise, and it was sore there too. That meant my workout was over, so I stopped before I did anything stupid. I have since taken a Motrin and iced it twice, which is what you're supposed to do when you have a sore muscle like this. But that's not the point of this journal.
What I want to talk about is what comes next. The cold treatment is over, because you're only supposed to do that within the first couple hours, so at this point the pain management will be down to taking Motrin when necessary, and minimizing it being necessary by not doing anything stupid. That's all well and good for what it is, but it doesn't address how I need to adjust for it overall.
When you have a sore muscle, you need to figure out what makes it hurt, and then not do that. The rhomboid is in charge of retracting the scapula (shoulderblade). This makes sense for a back muscle to end up hurting from dips, because in order to do them properly you need to retract the scapula to prevent internal rotation of the shoulders, which is bad for the shoulder joint. Overextending and then having to catch myself would cause that muscle to contract quickly, which can cause problems like this. Knowing that, I'm not concerned about this being a long-term injury, and I expect it to be gone in about a week. Oddly, it seems to hurt the most when I reach across my body with my left hand, but that just means that's a thing I don't get to do for a bit.
Since the rhomboid is responsible for pulling back the scapula, that means I need to make exercise choices that don't involve it moving. In theory, that should mean I'm good to do my arm workout as planned on Friday. However, whether I do that workout will depend on how I feel. If it feels like I'm making quick progress towards healing, then yes, I'll do an arm workout. If it doesn't, if instead it feels like the muscle is lagging behind, then I'm going to do a cardio workout instead, because that mostly involves the lower body, which the rhomboid is not connected to.
This is part of the Phillip DeFranco school of thought, which says "Don't be stupid, stupid!" If you know that doing something hurts, or that it runs the risk of causing you to hurt, then don't do that thing. That's going to extend to my core exercise selection as well for the next while: knowing that exercises that move the scapula are currently bad for me, I'm going to do only exercises where my upper body is stationary and my legs move, and the rhomboids are not under tension or stretched. This will make it harder to train my obliques and impossible to train my serratus anterior, but those are just the sacrifices I have to make to ensure proper healing.
Now, two weeks ago my left trapezius hurt for no reason. Really, I couldn't tell you why if you put a gun to my head. It hurt to turn my head in any direction, but other movements were fine. For that sore muscle, I didn't have to restrict my core exercises at all, because the trap isn't responsible for any of the movements those exercises do. The two muscles have vastly different functions, and they hurt with different motions, so things have to adjust for each in very different ways. This is why knowing what causes it to hurt is important - you don't want to stop everything, you want to stop the right things.
As for tomorrow, I plan to spend it mostly reading. This will keep basically all strain off of my right rhomboid, as my arm will not be moving except when it absolutely has to, and not doing any work will prevent me from experiencing stress, and the chemical imbalances that happen as a result of it. Ideally, this will help the healing process, because I'll be leaving my body to take care of itself with as little interference as possible, but bodies are weird. I'll still eat lots of protein tomorrow as planned, which should also help the healing process - healing muscles is what I eat all that protein for in the first place.
The point of all of this is to say that when something unexpected happens that causes you problems, be it in the gym or the office or your personal life, there are three ways to react: you can ignore it, and probably make it worse; you can overreact and change everything, which usually leads to catastrophe; or you can look at the situation intelligently and make the adjustments that are appropriate. It is important to keep your wits about you and choose the third option, because that is the way to make sure you keep moving forward without making things worse.
Now here's a video about a dog and a cheetah that are friends: