Monday, March 18, 2013


I Don't Want To Push It...

I've never had very sturdy tendons or ligaments so I'm somewhat prone to tendinitis and sprains. As I get older injuries take longer and longer to heal, and whenever I'm working, or working out, I want to be careful not to overdo whatever it is I'm doing. In fact one of my little motto's is: "I don't want an injury to tell me what I'm too old to do." I gently rein in my extremes every year.

I'm in the process right now of working on push-ups, to see how many and of which kind I can do without hurting myself. I like the feeling of strength and stability that doing push-ups adds to the way my body feels but I don't want to and can't afford to injure myself. I used to do push-ups regularly but after a nagging elbow injury a couple of years ago I got out of the habit completely. I really don't want a repeat of that so I'm being pretty careful as I return to doing them. 

I like to do two kinds of push-ups, one is the usual kind with arms out to the sides a bit that emphasizes the pecs, and other is with the elbows in very close to the ribs that emphasizes shoulder stabilizers like the lats. I like to do them with good posture and alignment, smoothly, no jerking, and I like to do complete ones not partial. I also like to do them in Systema style sets with 25% of any set exhaling on the upward movement, 25% exhaling on the downward movement, 25% with lungs full-no breathing, 25% with lungs empty-no breathing. I'd love to be able to do these pushups on my fists but I've not had good results doing that, including the elbow injury that took many months to heal. I do them all on my palms. 

If I could do one set of 40, 10 of each breathing method, non-stop, take a short break, and then do another set of 40, same breathing, non-stop, but of the other kind of pushup, and do that more or less every day without strain, I would be very happy with that. (I'm 55.) Right now it seems possible but by no means certain. I'm definitely not there yet. Every time my elbows or wrists start to hurt, I have to back off a bit, sometimes a lot. I just can't afford to have injured upper body joints, especially if the injuries become chronic. I always do as many as I feel I can safely do, but how many that is changes and I don't push it. 

In some ways this tendon/ligament sensitivity is a drag and pisses me off, not to mention, just hurts...but in other ways, I'm grateful for it because it's been a kind of forced bio-feedback mechanism that's helped me move more efficiently and spread work and stress more evenly in my body. Whenever I haven't "listened to the pain" and made the necessary corrections, I've paid for it. Going slowly and carefully has always yielded the best results for me, so that's what I'm doing with the pushups. 

(I've also begun to do this a bit with pull-ups but that is much more challenging to my soft tissues. I'm mostly just working on hanging from a pull-up bar while lifting up enough to free my head and neck, doing short mini-pulls from there and occasionally going for a single, slow, smooth and complete pull-up. I'd love to build up to doing 10 slow smooth ones, but I would settle for 5 at this point. I really have to be careful with these so I'm not forcing it at all.)

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