This is part one in this three-part series by Dr. Sean Pastuch, founder and owner of Active Life Rx. Dr. Sean examines his own nagging injury incurred while training, and the lessons he learned through months of self diagnosis and rehabilitation.

When I went to visit Rich Froning and Lindy Barber in Cookeville, we worked out, a lot. I had been doing some programming for Rich since the day after regionals 2017 for some knee issues he was dealing with (it was now December 2017).

We were introduced by another one of my clients and friends, Lindy Barber, with whom I had been working for over a year when she connected Rich and me. In order for you to more easily understand how to fix your body, I ask you to put yourself in my shoes for a moment.

What would you do? I’ll tell you what I did. I shit my pants.

Here I am at Rich Froning’s house. We had been working out all day long and I was exhausted. Rich and Lindy drew up this workout:

With a partner, complete the whole workload of the rep scheme then break while your partner does the same for time:

5×5 Bench Press 225/135 pounds / Sandbag over shoulder 150/100 pounds
8×4 Bench Press 205/115 pounds/ Sandbag over shoulder 150/100 pounds
10×3 Bench Press 185/95 pounds / Sandbag over shoulder 150/100 pounds

I told Rich, “I have never been able to get the 150 pound sandbag over my shoulder before – that’s my body weight. I think I need to scale this”.

He replied “You’ll be a’rite.”

What would you do? I’ll tell you what I did. I shit my pants.

Then I did the workout. I used the 150 pound sandbag alongside my partner, Tyler McBride, a 6x regional athlete (he motored through his portion). We finished in a combined 47 minutes and change. Rich and Lindy were done in about 17 minutes. I think she was home and showered before we were done. And yes, I did scale the bench press weights to 185, 155 and 135.

What would you have done?

There wasn’t a lighter sandbag available. Are you asking Rich Froning, the Babe Ruth of CrossFit, to change the workout for you? The first day you’ve ever hung out with him in person, no less? Power to you if you said yes – I didn’t have the balls.

Injured and didn’t realize it.

That night, Tyler and I went to dinner. When the waitress brought out my sweet tea, I went to lift it to my mouth and my arm failed.

I dropped the tea on the table and it sounded like I was slamming a beer mug after a chugging contest 12 drinks into the night. I had absolutely nothing in my arm, and unbeknownst to me at the time, I wouldn’t for another six months.

In May of 2018, six months later, I power cleaned 95# again without pain. It was not until July that my arm was fully recovered. What happened? I can’t be sure. I’m like you, I never got imaging. There was no point to it. I knew I didn’t need surgery. Maybe I had some small tears in the muscle, but there was no bruising, no swelling, and I didn’t have Rhabdo. I was just hurt. I was hurt because I did something that my ego drove me to do and I’m dumb enough to do something like it again if the opportunity arises. And this is exactly where this story becomes valuable for you.

Are you asking Rich Froning, the Babe Ruth of CrossFit, to change the workout for you? The first day you’ve ever hung out with him in person, no less? Power to you if you said yes – I didn’t have the balls.

I was in serious pain for a few days. After that, the pain got very dull and only bothered me if I loaded the injured area, my brachialis muscle on the left side. The brachialis muscle is deep to the biceps – it lives right on the humerus (arm bone) and it is the primary muscle responsible for elbow flexion.

Despite the fact that I’m the doctor who is supposed to keep more than two dozen CrossFit Games athletes healthy, I was at a loss.

So, like many of you, I headed to Google and YouTube like most people do when they’re hurt. I found a litany of quick fixes and you know what? I tried them all. Why not? What did I have to lose? I had faith that eventually I would feel better but I didn’t want to take forever off from upper body training; I couldn’t even front rack a barbell because of the pain. I was very limited.

I needed to do something.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week. 


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