No more big bench

No more big bench presses for me.  Since my torn pec problem two years ago I have been limited to cables and hammer strength.  But its getting the job done.  I am still seeing a massage therapist which has helped tremendously.  I also turned 47 today and it does make a difference in strength, my size is staying about the same.  I have cut down on the weight in my dead-lifts from 605 for reps to 510 and down to 425 for reps.  Squats I am 525 for reps on the smith machine and 415 for reps in the rack.

The pec tear was a huge offset,(it was a 2 inch tear), but I am grateful for the big dumbbells and bench I got before it happened.  I can do up to 100 lbs dumbbells now, but it is awkward to say the least.  I still have  a small dimpled peck area when flexing but it is usually unnoticeable at a relaxed stance.

The scary thing about these tears are the fact that I never had any indications of it coming on.  I felt strong and normal with good presses, the only thing that I could say is I was using the hand made bar that made the weights wobbly and I think my arm got to much outside of a safe zone of stability.  BUT I have heard of muscle tears regardless of proper form.

I would highly recommend warming up the muscles.  I do cable to pump the blood into the muscles before any free press weights.

Ladies and gentlemen our journey in the iron asylum is a hard goal with years of pain and sweat.  It is all worth it.

I cannot stay away from it, injuries or not.

Just use your brain as the first muscle to flex in judging your progress without going beyond something not rational to safety.

Good luck stay safe.


Human Growth Hormone KEY Ingrediants


I have been making my own HGH (human growth hormone) by buying the KEY ingredients of GABA (Gamma-aminoburtyric-acid) 750MG a day mixed with Alpa GPC 600 MG a day. I am stronger and active in my opinion since starting this. Don’t buy into spending allot of money on the supplements that DO say HGH on them. Just look at the KEY ingredients and buy them seperatly it is so much cheaper and you can test yourself on the amount that works for you.  I have been cycling with DHEA 100 days on 30 off.  The supplement world is so huge now that the flashy label sell more than it helps you. So if you are going to supplement and need to “stack” something I recommend going on EBay  (you get EBay bucks too) or Puritans Pride, LuckyVitimins or whomever you do business with and buy to your knowledge of the KEY ingredients to set up your stack. This takes some time and research by way of looking at many labels of many different supplements. When you go into a supplement store you notice separate supplements and you also see the “special” ones for certain goals. Do some research sometimes it is way cheaper to buy the Key ingredients. The HGH advertized ones have your Key ingredients and other “crap” that you do not need.  Also those supplements may not have the amount your looking for. But sometimes they are on a real good sale. So again do some studying and blend the KEY ingredients to your needs.

Have a good Holiday season

Everything You Wanted to Know About Bench Shirts


Found this artical and would like to share with you.

Written by Jeff Behar
 What Exactly is a “Bench Shirt” and How Does It Work?

A bench shirt is a stiff supportive shirt, used to improve performance in the bench press, most often in power lifting competitions to increase their 1 rep max. The bench shirt is basically artificial shoulders and pectoral (chest). The shirt resists the bench press movement (like compressing a powerful spring) thereby giving a boost off the chest.

History of the Bench Shirt

Originally the attire for powerlifting was similar to that for Olympic lifting. Lifters had the option of wearing a one-piece lifting suit, called a singlet, or a two piece one made up of a tee shirt or tank top and a pair of shorts. Knee and wrist wraps were allowed in the form of ace bandages. Additionally, a belt no wider than 4″ could be used. However, at the 1968 AAU Senior Nationals there was significant controversy over lifters wearing multiple layers of trunks and wraps to aid their lifts. Soon, special squatting and support shorts turned up that helped when lifting. In 1973, the National Weightlifting Committee banned these supportive suits and all other supportive lifting gear other than a belt. These rules continued until 1974 when the IPF came into existence.

Bench shirts were originally brought to the market as a protective device, much like a lifting belt, knee wraps, etc. The  “Bench Shirt” came into existence in 1983, when a college student and powerlifter named John Inzer started making shirts that supported benchers’ shoulders and deltoids. The original shirts were a tight polyester material that helped protect the shoulders and pectorals during heavy benching, such as during a competition. Word spread that the bench shirt not only prevented injuries but also actually helped bounce the weight off your chest.

Gear use is currently widespread in powerlifting with more federations offering equipped lifting than unequipped.

What Can A Shirt Add to Your Lift?

Bench shirts can add approximately 10%-15% for a low quality shirt or perhaps as much as 20%, 30%+ to your single paused legal bench press with a good Inzer, Karin or Titan shirt after you learn how to use your shirt. Learning how to use the shirt, choosing a shirt that fits correctly, and choosing a shirt that fits your lifting technique is the key to getting the most out of your shirt. Some lifters depending on the equipment rules have gotten even higher percentages (45%-50%) from a bench shirt. Failure to use the shirt correctly, choosing a shirt that does not fit your technique can sometimes result in hurting your 1 rep max and having a lift that is less than a “raw” or unassisted (no shirt) lift.

Superheavyweight Ryan Kennelly, benched 1070 pounds (476.3 kg) on 4/13/08 at the APA West Coast Iron Wars held in Kennewick, Washington using a bench shirt. It is said that his “raw” max is less than 700 pounds. 

The heaviest bench press without any equipment to assist is held by Scot Mendelson with a lift of 715 lbs (324.3 kg)

Rules Governing Bench Shirts

Different power lifting federations have different rules governing allowed equipment – for example:

·           The only supportive equipment allowed by the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation for bench press is a leather belt.

·           The International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) stipulates that support shirts must be “of one ply stretch material”.

·           The American Powerlifting Federation (APF) is the most popular powerlifting Federation in the World doesn’t only allows single ply, and closed back shirts.

·           The United States Powerlifting Federation (USPF) only allows single ply, and closed back shirts.

·           The American Powerlifting Association (APA) only allows open back shirts, and 2 ply gear. However, the APA also keeps limitations on the gear like no canvas, no shirts pulled down past the shoulders, etc.

·           The USA Powerlifting (USAPL) allows single ply equipment.

·           The World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters (WABDL) allows single or double ply, poly or denim, but the neck must be closed.

·           The World Natural Powerlifting Federation (WNPF) allows single or double ply, poly or denim, open or closed back, but no canvas.

Prevalence of Use

While the use of bench shirts has always been hotly debated, it is a fact that the majority of lifters use them. In particular, the vast majority of elite and famous lifters use some form of bench shirt. For instance the current bench press record Ryan Kennelly (1070 pounds (476.3 kg) on 4/13/08), as well as legend Scot Mendelson (1008 lb (457.5 kg) 2/18/06) have made amazing poundage’s using the bench shirt.

Types of Bench Shirts

In the beginning, there was only one type of bench shirt available. Now, Bench press shirts come in a wide range of styles and fitting types. Bench shirts are usually made of polyester, denim, or canvas and come in single- or multi-ply thicknesses. The two most popular types are the polyester and the denim bench press shirt. Kennely has made some of his largest lifts using a Inzer double Rage-X, and or an Inzer double denim.

An important point to note, each shirt, as well as the brand changes the way in which weight is lifted. Therefore practicing in a shirt to identify which brand, type works best for your style of lifting is essential.

Single Ply vs. Multiple Ply

This is a simple concept that improved shirts by leaps and bounds. A single ply shirt is just that, one layer of poly or denim sewn into a shirt. A double has two layers in critical areas; a triple ply has three layers of material in critical areas. The thicker the shirt, the more resistance is given, and the more additional power the bencher has available. Most polyester shirts these days are double ply, and double ply is essentially a standard in denim shirts and canvas shirts, as the extra layer prevents ripping of the material under extreme loads.

Polyester (Poly) Shirts

·           One of the first designs on the market.

·           Polyester bench press shirts are by far the most popular type of shirt being used by benchers and world record holders today.

·           Polyester bench press shirts are tight fitting shirts made with 1 or 2 layers of polyester.

·           There are three main types of polyester bench press shirts today. They are:

o   Shirts using the same (or similar) type of fabric throughout the whole shirt. These types of shirts are extremely tight and hard to get on. It usually requires 3 people to get one on.

o   Shirts which has the back split open (either permanently, or the backs may fasten up with Velcro). This type of shirt gives the lifter a bit more flexibility when they’re not lifting.

o   Shirts with a thin, “stretchy” material on the back (said to be created to get around “no open back” rules by some of the federations, such as the USAPL and APF.

·           The shirt is made in such a way, that the fabric of the shirt needs to be stretched when the bencher is holding the bar and moving it downwards. When the bencher pushes the bar back up, the fabric is relaxed.

·           In general, the sleeves of the shirt are angled in such a way as to require stretching the fabric to move the arms toward the chest when holding the bar, such that the stretch of the shirt adds to the force a lifter’s muscles can provide.

·           The additional benching power of the poly shirt comes from the stretching of the shirt material and the compression of the lifter’s body.

·           This power can make it difficult to make the bar touch the chest. For advanced lifters, thicker shirts built from multiple layers of material can make touching the bar even more difficult. The multiple layers do add additional resistance, and therefore power to the shirt.

·           Several manufacturers make poly shirts in many different designs. Some shirts are made entirely of the same material throughout, others have a different material for the back of the shirt, and still other have the back of the shirt split open and fastened with Velcro, or even left completely open.

Wearing the Poly Shirt

·           Poly shirts must fit the wearer very tight and can be extremely uncomfortable.

·           If a poly shirt doesn’t hurt, it is much too loose.

·           Poly shirts are known to chaff, cut and bruise the underarms severely.

·           Therefore many beginners might opt to try a looser fitting shirt, like denim, first.

·           They can be very difficult to get on.

·           Shirts made entirely from one type of material with a fully closed back are especially difficult, and may require several helpers to place the shirt on the lifter.

·           Shirts with Velcro backs, stretchy back material, and completely open backs have become much more common simply because they are easier to get on the lifter.

·           All poly shirts must be pulled up the lifter’s arms as far as possible first.

·           It is always important to make certain the shirt is straight. If the sleeve is twisted, it can very negatively affect a lift (seams t can be used as an indicator of straightness and positioning of the shirt).

·           Once the shirt is in position on the arms, the shirt must be pulled over the head (or pulled around the shoulders for an open back model), and  pulled down the torso, with all of the wrinkles worked out of the fabric. If the shirt is a Velcro design, the Velcro should now be fastened.

·           Once this is done the seams around the deltoid and under the armpit should be checked to ensure that they are still straight.  If not they should again be readjusted.

·           If the shirt is tight fitting like it is designed to be worn it can take as much as 15-25 minutes to get the shirt ready for the lifter.

Using the Poly Shirt

Like with any shirt type, each type and brand of poly shirt has its own unique characteristics. Some like the Titan Fury, or the open back version of Inzer’s Phenom, seem to work best in a low groove where the bar touches below the pecs (chest).  People that  bench high on the chest, seem to favor shirts like the Inzer Blast Shirts. It is important to recognize that not only do shirts fit differently for different people, but each individual shirt has its own unique groove, which must be learned in order to achieve maximum performance. For example, the Inzer EHPHD Blast Shirt tends to drive the bar path over the lifter’s face. The lifter has to compensate for this by purposely forcing the bar path lower.

Denim Shirts

·           A denim bench press shirt is similar in shape to a polyester shirt, and works in the same principal.

·           The denim must be stretched in order for the weight to be brought down to the chest.

·           Denim shirts provide more support than poly shirts because denim is less flexible than polyester.

·           Denim shirts are considered to be the top of the line.

·           The denim shirt creates its power by twisting and straining the fabric, and by compressing the lifter’s body.

·           Denim shirts do not work for everyone because the material and the way it is put the benchers body is under an enormous amount of pressure.

·           The shirts are also not the choice for many because for the denim bench press shirt to work effectively, the bencher must use perfect technique. If the technique is not 100% correct, the increase will be negligible (the bencher may even bomb on a weight that they could lift raw).

·           They can be purchased with single to triple reinforcement, with Velcro, etc.  Prices typically range from $40 for single ply to $200 for triple reinforcement.

Wearing a Denim Shirt

·           Because denim is less flexible than polyester, a denim bench press shirt does not have to be worn as tight as a polyester shirt.

·           Most denim shirts have at least a mostly split back, making them significantly easier to put on.

·           Completely open back denim shirts are easy to wear. Just slip up the arms, and tug into place.

Using the Denim Shirt

·           Because of the tightness of the fabric, the denim shirt can support much more weight than a comparable poly shirt. The stress placed on a lifter’s body by a denim shirt can be severe. In many cases, a lifter will not be able to even touch the bar to his or her chest with weight he or she could bench without the shirt.

·           In general, denim shirts perform best when used in a low groove.

·           Open back denim shirts work best when the bar is actually touched on the lifter’s stomach.

·           A denim shirt does require a great deal of very refined technique to use properly; therefore it takes a lot of practice and should not be used by beginners in powerlifting meets without sufficient prior experience using the shirt.

·           Because precise technique is of paramount importance, even skilled lifters can miss lifts that they have hit before because of technique. Technique is paramount.

Canvas Shirts

·           There are also shirts made of canvas.

·           Canvas bench shirts work on basically the same principle as denim shirts.

·           They are said to be even more supportive than denim.

·           They can be purchased with single to triple reinforcement, with Velcro, etc.  Prices typically range from $40 for single ply to $200 for triple reinforcement.

Availability and Cost

Today’s shirts are highly evolved, purpose built garments designed with the intent of lifting more weight.

There are now several companies selling bench shirts, offering varying levels of shirts, in various materials, various plys, ranging in price from less than $40 to well over $200.

Do You Want A Big Bench Press?

Then you’re probably determined to get one. It’s that same determination that will be your struggle. The more you want it, the harder you want to work and the longer you want to stay in the gym. This is going to lead to overtraining which will stunt any strength gains you’ve made and delay any dreams of an even bigger bench.

How do you know if you’re at risk of overtraining? If you feel run down after a workout, notice that you aren’t making any gains, you always do forced reps, you’re not getting enough rest, your diet stinks, you have a bad attitude or you aren’t motivated you’re probably overtraining. Insomnia is another big sign. Put it this way, if a weight continually feels heavier than normal, chances are you haven’t gotten weaker, you just haven’t recovered from previous workouts.

There are three distinct stages of metabolism. The first is a state of equilibrium easily described as the fully recovered state where energy is neither being depleted and tissue is not being damaged or repaired. The second stage is catabolism. Catabolism is the stage you are in during a workout. Energy is being depleted and muscle tissue is being damaged. Your goals should be to keep catabolism in the gym, but many people that overtrain keep this stage going long after their workouts end and lose hard-earned muscle tissue to help the recovery.

Finally the stage that usually doesn’t get much of a chance to kick in before we’re back in the gym for another session. The third stage is anabolism where energy is restored and tissue damage is being repaired. So after you lift you want to heal and reach a state of homeostasis,but instead many of us are back in the gym tearing our muscles and using energy when we haven’t even let the muscle fully recover from the previous workout. Never lift a muscle group that is still sore. I know it’s difficult but sometimes more isn’t better.

There is always the urge to overtrain thinking that if we just work harder the gains will come. How do we resist the urge? First off lets think, quality not quantity. If you lift each muscle group only once a week and spend less than 1 hr in the gym you’re on the right path. Although you don’t have to spend a lot of time in the gym the time spent must be intense.

Every single exercise and rep should be performed with a passion and you will accomplish more in 45 minutes than most people do in two hours. If you are truly pushing yourself you should be exhausted at the end of the workout. After tearing your body apart, do you think it’s going to be ready to do it again in two to three days? I think not, try at least a week.

So all you benchers out there if you’re lifting heavy, workout after workout make sure that the reason you hit a plateau is not that you are trying too often. Let your body recover, heal, and grow before you start ripping it up again. When you hit each body part several times a week you don’t really try as hard because you know you’ll get another shot at it in a week. When you only lift each body part once per week you develop a sense of urgency.

You know you better lift hard because you won’t get another chance to train it again for a week. Then as the week passes by you find yourself looking forward to your next chest day. Anyone that thinks they might be overtraining take a couple of days off and go back to the gym revived and motivated with the determination to train smarter and harder.

Mike Westerdal is the President of Critical Bench, Inc. He earned his BS from Central CT State University and holds certification as a personal trainer with the American Council on Exercise. Westerdal also has experience coaching and playing professional football. His articles are published throughout the Web and in numerous weight lifting magazines including Monster Muscle. His best RAW bench press is currently 450 lbs. He is the author of the Critical Bench Program which can be found at

The Belt Squat

Belt squats are important in many ways for a powerlifter. This equipment assists powerlifter especially ones with back injury or pain but still able to train in a manner to continue to build strength.  The belt squat unloads the pressure on the spine which is important for many reasons.  It allows faster recovery due to unloading of on the spine. It allow es lifters who cannot hold a bar on their back due to injury or discomfort. The belt pulls downward providing a traction like effect on the spine. This device is a safe and secure approach for heavy squats without a spotter and you can train to failure without the risk of injury.  The belt squat feels stable and gives a sense of confidence in raising your lifting goals.  The best usage of this equipment is to box squat on it, in other words placing a box in a size that allows for you to “sit” on it with the position at a 90 degree angle. Any lower would increase difficulty in recovering back to the standing position.  You want a level of difficulty to allow a good muscle workout but not a difficulty to increase the risk of injury.  Belt squat machines are not commonly found in the gym.  You would find them in powerlifting gyms or gyms geared specifically for the athlete (powerlifter).  You can also build one yourself to get your job done and save money. the link included will take you to one person who did this. .  Or for a very rudimentary style check out the homade deck at the bottom of the previous link. Very simple yet a little less stable due to the straps connected directly to the plates good work for balance as well.

 Other uses of the belt squat deck are, Cable dead lifts, Handle squats, cable high pulls, seated low rows. and other rowing movements.  You could discover your own different exercises on this deck.

That’s all for now. So try and find one of these or purchase on if you can or build it!.

 On a side note I am returning to the Doctor to continue my ART muscle tissue treatments for my torn pectoral muscle.  I am confident it is helping in the healing process and it has been 6 months now.  My pressing strength has increased on the machines but I am still lacking in dumbbell presses and barbell presses.  It is very frustrating but I am making a goal to get back to close to 100%.


Good night’s sleep for powerlifters

Alright, so it is important to not forget you’re a powerlifter even when you step out of your gym environment.  You know the things that go into your daily routine as an athlete you breath feel and smell powerlifting,,So let’s make sure you are able to “dream about it” too.  After a training set in the heavy section of the muscle department you are probably at bedtime ready for a good night sleep.  I sleep on a firm mattress I am a side sleeper and as the case keeping your spine in its natural state through out the night is very important to spinal health and minimising injury during lifts.  In addition to my mattress I have a 3 inch memory foam that is really good at keeping your natural spinal form. I have not slept on a “tempurpedic” and they are quite expensive too. I have layed on one in a store and they feel allot like my memory foam maybe a little firmer. But the memory foam is 40 to 80 dollars verses $1700.00 for a tempurpedic.  I also use a memory foam or firm pillow allowing the neck vertebra to stay in sync with the spine.  I took the foam off and switched beds putting on a thick down pad with a smaller pad on that making my bed very soft.  I slept well with this and it felt comfortable but I started having lower back pain.  So I switched the pads out and back to the memory foam and after a few nights it went away.  I am not saying you should change out your bed because my type of bedding may not work for you.  I fly for a living so I have slept in many many hotels across our nation.  Some of their beds really are bad.  And the pillows worse.  I have mixed feelings about the “sleep number” bed.  I slept on them at the Radisson they seem to be ok.  So you know when you go compete and your staying at a hotel you probably notice back pain the next day or two.  Unrelated to the back pain after those squats and dead lifts.  Or maybe you could not tell between the pain if any.  So some people take their pillow with them on an overnight why not roll up some memory foam and take it too?.  Seeing a chiropractor to make sure all is straight my be in the cards for you as well.  Make up your nest for the night before the competition and dream heavy!

Active Release Technique and my pectoral recovery

Pectoral Tear

This is what my injury looked like in March. Does not look this way today.

After seeing the sports doctor and reviewing my MRI I am still in the healing process of this muscle tear. He is solid in view of at least a year of healing with the realization of a non complete recovery. It has been 3 months now since my injury. I have improved slowly in weight for pressing movement.  However I cannot go and rep or even try over 300lbs on the bench.  I am taking it slow and I am determined to beat this injury.  It has a level of depression when you cannot do what you used to in the bench press or dips or dumbbell presses. When I am doing flat bench dumbbells or any pressing movements I do notice the deformity of my left pectoral muscle. It is not noticeable in normal body movements.  I am able to do all the other heavy lifts so I am grateful for that.  Now that surgery is not an option I am going to try ACT (active release therapy) I have an appointment set up next week and I am looking forward to see if this will help in the healing process. I will paste below the therapy details.  And I will keep you up to date if this works.

 Active Release Treatment

ART is a patented system of soft tissue treatment that is the #1 choice for conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, whiplash, back pain and other muscle, nerve and joint conditions. It has become the world wide gold standard in the treatment of such conditions. This year at the 25th Ironman Triathlon World Championship over 1000 Active Release Techniques treatments will be given in the week of the race. Why? Because elite athletes know that ART works fast, gets rid of the pain and improves performance.

ART is a procedure that reduces adhesive scar tissue that is formed when the body repairs injuries it suffers because of repetitive motion, bumps, falls, or blows. The formation of adhesive scar tissue in the tendons, ligaments and joints is often the primary culprit in long-term pain. Although muscles get injured most frequently, they also heal more easily on their own. Tendons, ligaments and joints, on the other hand, often take months or years to heal and often stay injured for a lifetime.

Adhesion is the medical term for scar tissue. Scar tissue is abnormal tissue that can form during the healing process. Scar tissue inside the body often connects two parts of the body that are not suppose to be connected, which can result in pain. Dense cohesive adhesions connect two pieces of tissue together tightly, similar to gluing two pieces of wood together. There is no space in-between the two pieces of tissue.

When the tissues of the body are injured the body repairs the damage area by laying down a fibers that surround the affected area; this is adhesive scar tissue. It’s called “adhesive” because the fibers stick to the affected tissue and protect it while the injured tissue heals. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, because the injured party often doesn’t sufficiently rest the affected parts, the adhesive tissue is laid down in a chaotic fashion. The result is that the adhesions are not always laid down in smooth, even layers, and do not follow the direction of muscle action. The fibers thus are laid down against the grain, tightly constrict the tissues, and limit the range of motion. When motion beyond the range is attempted, pain results; avoiding pain therefore requires that one live with much reduced range of motion of the affected parts of the body.

Adhesive scar tissue can lead to pain in virtually any part of the body that’s been injured, including the neck, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hand, hip, knee, ankle and foot. If you’ve been told you have tennis or golfer’s elbow, rotator cuff tendonitis, heel spur, pinched nerves, sciatica, to name a few, then the chances are good that the cause of this pain is adhesive scar tissue.

Healthy soft tissue is healthy, it is smooth and slippery, allowing the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and organs to move freely and function properly. When adhesions attach to muscles, their ability to work properly is decreased. When you have an adhesion on a nerve, numbness, tingling, or pain result.

Imagine a piece of scotch tape, the smooth side is healthy fascia, the sticky side is scar tissue or unhealthy fascia. Try rubbing both sides of the tape along your skin. The smooth side slips easily across your skin. The sticky side drags across your skin. The drag that you feel, the “pulling” sensation is how an adhesion affects the smooth functioning of your body.

Because Active Release Techniques (ART) is able to resolve chronic injury and pain that have not responded to other forms of therapy, it one of most sought after soft-tissue treatments in the world today, and is widely used on to treat sports-related injuries. Indeed, a variety of Olympic athletes from many countries cite the technique as one of the factors that help them win gold medals

Powerlifting Injuries – How Muscles Get Injured And How To Treat Them

Hello all>>Iam sharing this interesting artical written by Ken Kinakin, D.C., C.S.C.S. (Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist). We all know how an injury could break you in competition or take you out of the PowerLifting events for life. I am still dealing with my injuries,,and in this sport “count on getting them” Here is somthing to think about

Powerlifting injuries can come from a variety of sources. Examples of this may be poor lifting technique, lifting beyond your capabilities or training too often without proper rest or recuperation. All of these sources can lead to microtrauma, or small injury, that can get worse over time. Because you don’t recognize that the is injury there, you reinjure yourself frequently. This repeated microtrauma can eventually have a profound effect on the specific action of the joint and the surrounding tissues. The effects of the microtrauma include the microtearing of the muscle, the sheath around the muscle and the adjacent connective tissue, as well as stress to the tendon and its bony attachments. The microtearing of the muscle tissue leads to microscopic bleeding, all of which affects the entire area around the injury, contributing to what is commonly know as inflammation. Most people assume that inflammation can be easy to detect like the swelling around a badly sprained ankle. This is not always the case however. Microtrauma causes a corresponding low level of inflammation that cannot be seen or palpated.

The body responds to this myofascitis, inflammation of the muscle and fascia, by forming fibrous adhesions, or scar tissue in the muscle, between the sheaths of adjacent muscle groups and between the fascia and the muscle sheaths. These fibrous adhesions limit the ease and range of motion of muscles and joints and can decrease the muscles lengthening and shortening capabilities. Once the normal biomechanics of the joint is altered, this can lead to further inflammation and the pattern becomes a vicious cycle of long-term wear and tear.

This fibrous adhesion pattern can be seen in people who do certain exercises such as bench press and complain of the same pain in the exact same spot. This doesn’t happen by chance. The fibrous adhesion formed in the shoulder muscle is preventing proper motion and pulling on the various soft tissue structures like muscle, fascia, tendon and bursae when trying to perform the bench press.

Taking time off lifting will decrease the chronic inflammation, but it will not decrease the fibrous adhesion. As soon as you start lifting again, the fibrous adhesion will increase the inflammation and stop you from doing this exercise due to pain. An analogy would be if your car tire hit the curb on a icy road altering the tire alignment causing the tire and car to shake when driving. Putting the car in the garage for one month and not driving will prevent further damage to the tire and steering linkages, but it will not fix the wheel alignment. You have to take it to a mechanic that will properly assess the altered wheel alignment and then he balances it until it spins perfectly again. The same thing occurs when you have an injury. You have to identify all the possible fibrous adhesions in the muscle, then perform some soft tissue therapy on the muscle to break up all those fibrous adhesions in the muscle, muscle sheaths, tendons, ligaments and fascia. This will restore normal motion to the muscle and joint allowing proper movement and function. One of the latest soft tissue techniques that is being used on athletes all over the world is call Active Release Technique (or A.R.T.) that was created by Dr. Micahel Leahy D.C. A.R.T. is aimed at manually breaking up adhesions, the scar tissue that can entrap muscles, tendons, ligaments and even nerves.

The new procedure is similar to some massage techniques, only it’s more aggressive. You must be able to locate the adhesion and know how to use active motion of the body part to break them up. To break up an adhesion, you must actually put your thumb or fingers on the scar tissue and make it move in a way that breaks it away from the tissue it has adhesed to. Depending on the amount of chronic inflammation and severity of the adhesion, the pain can be minimal to quite intense, but the procedure is only done a few times and the relief from the injury can be almost immediate at times. Sometimes with less severe injuries only three to six sessions are needed to restore normal muscle and joint function along with proper guidance of exercise technique, stretching and diet to prevent the injury from reoccurring. More severe injuries can take longer and other forms of therapy must be regularly performed to fully restore normal muscle and joint function. After the adhesions are broken up, a rehabilitation program should be used to strengthen the muscles since certain muscles in the point will have been not properly strengthen due to altered biomechanics.

This has been a very useful and common sense therapy that has worked very well for my patients and complements all the other treatment modalities I use. It has allowed many of my patients to get back to the weight room pain free, full strength or runners back running at their full potential. If you have a current injury that will not go away, even with other forms of treatments or rest, this maybe an appropriate therapy for you to try.

Are smelling salts effective

When competing in powerlifting events, smelling salts and ammonia caps are widely used among athletes to hype them up and before the “big” lift.  ammonium carbonate  is the active compound.  Smelling salts have been around since Roman times and also known as ‘sal volatile’ for their ability to create a reaction. Many powerlifters use salts before the big lift.  The salts when inhaled irritate the mucus membranes of the nose, throat, and lungs, stimulating the body to breathe more quickly.  There is wide controversy between powerlifters using salts. However it is legal in most competitions and is accepted as a form of “natural stimulants.  I have not used smelling salts and have done well in my big lifts.  In my opinion I believe smelling salts are very effective to hype you up and focus on your big lift. You see powerlifters inhale the salts and then slap their face to get adrenalin flowing and peak their lift performance in those brief minutes of the lift.  The salts are inexpensive ranging around 5 US dollars per bottle. They should be stored in your gym bag and be aware of not to place your bag in the sun or over a heater vent as due the ammonia in smelling salts are toxic.  Ammonia gas is toxic, large concentrations could be fatal so do not stick your head in your gym back to smell for a leak!.  Although there has been no reports of any its best to treat it carefully so you’re not the first to be a fatality.  When using the salts in competition it would be good to brief your partner or coach to make sure the lid is on tight after they administer the open container under your nose.  If you are going to try smelling salts for the first time it would be better to try in an area if you get nausea it will not be an embarrassment.  Although there has been no reports of getting ill from the salts some people may be inherently susceptible to a reaction. In conclusion smelling salts are safe to use in small quantities and depends on your view in use of  an aid in powerlifting.

Good luck in all your training and competitions!