power clean 5 rep PR and my left shoulder

Wednesday AM at CFA was depressing. Until later, when I realized what I’d done.

It was depressing because I hurt my shoulder and decided, as a result, to forego the WOD. That was the right decision but it bugged me all day. My injury-prone body is BUGGING ME. See below for details on that.

Later, I realized I’d set a new PR, which made me happy. That makes 2 new PRs this week, a nice counterbalance to my struggles with pain and body composition.


I’ll skip the details on the warm-up except to say that I did a 400 meter run with few problems and then afterward, while doing my calisthenics, my forearms bugged me but much worse, I hurt my left shoulder pretty badly doing a set of pull-ups. Bummer. See below for details.

Strength/Skill: Power Cleans and Wall Ball

The goal was to do 5 sets of 5 power cleans in a “touch and go” fashion. Alternating with 5 sets of 10 wall balls, done at full speed. I did four sets.

Power Clean: 5 x 95 / 5 x 115 / 5 x 135 / 5 x 155 (PR). I didn’t realize this was a PR until later. My previous PR was 135, and set way back last year on 06/19/2010. I didn’t even think about the 155 being a PR until much later. I’ve gotten stronger in the past year and I feel good about it.

Wall Ball: 4 x 10 x 20 lbs.

Although I liked the Strength session, in spite of pain in my shoulder and forearms, I didn’t, however, feel good about doing the WOD, which, combining push-press, KB swings, and pull-ups, looked like it was sure to aggravate my painful parts pretty badly. So I elected to skip the open sectionals workout #5 prep. I showered and headed off to work.

Pains in my Body, Especially My Forearms, Elbows, and Left Shoulder

For some damn reason, my body has not been healing well, not been recovering well, has been troubled by nagging injury and hurt, etc. I can think of at least three reasons, besides “overuse” and my being a “weekday warrior 40-something amateur athlete” that contributes to this unfortunate situation: (1) poor nutrition, (2) poor sleep, and (3) inadequate mobility work.

Periodically, I have little aches and pains that help to suck the life out of my workouts. I have a pain in my left foot that has been present since Dec. 25th (yep, almost 4 months) and is keeping me out of the running game. I have intermittent pain in my left “knee” (patellar tendon), although lately that has been better, thanks to better hamstring stretching. I have occasional discomfort in my right knee as well, related, I always suppose, to the old broken tib-fib on my right side, but more recently and acutely, to open sectionals WOD #1 a month ago, when I seem to have strained my quadriceps right where it attaches to the knee joint.

But forget about all of those nagging pains in my body. Right now I have two pretty bad sources of bodily pain that really really suck.

First, is my forearms and inner elbows on both sides. I believe that, were I to see a sports-medicine specialist or PT, this condition would be diagnosed as “golfer’s elbow” (not to be confused with “tennis elbow”) aka “medial epicondylitis”. Since I’ve been having these symptoms for a year or more, it’s not likely inflammatory but more of an -osis type of condition. Unfortunately, at this time I cannot afford any kind of medical treatment. (We recently switched to an HSA at work, and I don’t have any money saved up yet for the HSA. So, no “elective” medical care for me.) So, if you have a suggestion about how to treat it… preferably without advising me to “stop training” for 3-6 months, that’d be great.

Second, is my damn left shoulder. I’ve been complaining about pain and acute injuries in my left shoulder time and again on this blog. Wednesday morning I did a simple set of 5 dead hang pull-ups with a red band assist and BOOM, it felt like something behind and below my left shoulder just EXPLODED. Looking at the muscle anatomy charts, I would say that I feel pain either in my infraspinatus, my teres major, or my teres minor. Which is new to me, because at other times, I would say the pain I have felt has been near the top of the deltoid or the supraspinatus. There is no reason I can think of why my left shoulder should have had the reaction it did. The pain from this acute injury (what kind of injury? rip? tear? pull? strain?) is now ongoing and is not stopping.

I wish I could figure out what to do about these matters. I do not want to dial everything back for six months. Will I have to? I need expert advice. Free expert advice.


  1. Regarding your elbow. Sounds like ligaments and tendons. Not knowing what’s really going on, I would advice introducing some tension (as opposed to compression) work by just hanging on a bar or letting your arm hang down while gripping some weight. Could help you buy some slack and loosen up that joint.

    Your left shoulder. Do you ever reverse your grip and do chin ups? That causes the angle of the humerus to change and therefore recruits different muscles (also recruits the same muscles, but in different ways). Anyway, doing the same movements over and over to strengthen the shoulder girdle will expose weakness.
    But this is preventative advice and you’re looking for rehab advice.
    Here’s four videos of Rippetoe, Wendler, and Jim Steel sitting around and talking about how to avoid and/or work around injuries:

    General rule: Don’t stop training, but continue to avoid exercises that make you wince in response to acute pain.

    Hope you feel better, soldier!

  2. Matt,

    I feel for you, brother–that’s a lot of injuries and pain you’re suffering from right now!

    I agree with Phil that you shouldn’t stop training, but I would go further than he did and suggest a shift in your training away from CrossFit for a while to something completely different, something that will keep up your conditioning while allowing your body to heal: yoga.

    I say this because my biggest fear for you is that when you hit 50-55, your body’s going to be a mess from the constant training-related injuries, training through your injuries, and general pushing your body to the limits you engage in.

    My perspective is that I train to live, not live to train, and one of my main goals of my fitness and nutrition regimen (as a 40-something Dad of toddlers) is to be able to keep up with them into my 60s–anything that compromises that has to go.

    So am I as jacked as I could be if I got back into serious weight training? No. But my body runs like a top, I feel strong and flexible, and I’m still in pretty good shape (190 burpees and 200 push ups in 20 minutes is pretty good for a 42-year-old traveling consultant type). And most importantly, I hope to be able to sustain this level of nutrition and training (or something close to it) into my 60s and beyond.

    Anyway, I know you love training hard (and you’re my extreme fitness hero…Gawain’s, too), but I would encourage you to think about why you’re doing this, what your goals are, and what you want your body and life to be like 10, 15, 20 years from now…cause that’s the real context of this dilemma.

    My $0.02. I hope it helps, and hang in there–you rock!



    • Your .02 deposited. I’d love to do more Yoga. Great job on the burpees and push-ups by the way!

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