Turning off the Stupid…

About the Author: Eric Cressey

Some of you probably already know that one of the reasons I became a “shoulder guy” was because my right shoulder is a piece of garbage thanks to my youth tennis career.  I was scheduled for a surgery back in 2003 for your classic internal impingement issues: partial thickness tear of my supraspinatus, bone spurs, and – while I never had an athrogram – presumably some labral fraying, too.

Anyway, long story short, I had six months before my surgery was scheduled, so I tinkered with my programming with a “what the heck” mindset, and wound up fixing up my shoulder to the point that I could cancel the surgery.  About the only things that I had to give up were:

1) the crazy kick serve I used to use on the tennis court (and, to be honest, tennis as a whole; powerlifting seemed more fun anyway)

2) overhead pressing

I haven’t picked up a tennis racket since 2003.  And, until last week, I hadn’t done any overhead pressing.  Can you tell where this is going?

Of course, I see intern Roger doing some push presses, so I figure I’ll give it a shot.  I did some easy sets of 5 at 155 last week, and it didn’t bother the ol’ tater.  I was pretty pleased.

So, idiocy coming out in full effect, I decide to overhead press with Tony the next week – and this time took it up to 200 pounds.  Aside from feeling hopelessly weak because I hadn’t trained the movement for about seven years, it felt reasonably good for the rest of the day on Monday.

If you’re any good at predicting the end of those “choose your own adventure” books, you can probably guess that my shoulder hated me on Tuesday – and still doesn’t feel too hot at 10:42PM on Wednesday night.

It’s “nothing to write home about” pain that I know will be gone in a day or two. Still, it really cracks me up.

If one of my athletes came to me with this injury history, he wouldn’t overhead press for another day in his career.  In fact, my overhead throwing athletes with no injury history don’t overhead press at all just because they are at a greater risk of this and I don’t want to take any chances.  Apparently, though, in the walnut sized brain that rattles around inside my skull, my shoulder is in some way “special.”

This brings me to my point of the day.  Beyond providing thorough assessments, good programming, constant motivation, and a positive training environment, our primary job as strength and conditioning coaches and personal trainers is, very simply, to help athletes turn off the stupid.

Sadly, the hardest person to coach is oneself.  I’m off to throw a bag of frozen green beans on this shoulder and chow down on some humble pie.