Thursday, January 3, 2008

Trapezius pain from... bowling?

I lift heavy weights 3 times a week. I'm the guy that my friends think to call when it's time to move a couch or TV or washing machine. But I got my ass kicked yesterday by a 16 pound ball. Let me explain:

I'm in a bowling league with my roommates and a few friends. Token Asian Roommate, who's on my team, (Our team name is "Guns and Wiggles," in case you need more proof that my friends and I are huge dorks.) has a solid understanding of bowling technique, and acts as our team coach.

Last Sunday, Token Asian Roommate and I modified my mechanics to make me a better bowler in the long run. In the short run, this means my score will suffer as I adjust and get rid of my bad habits. Apparently, it also means that my right trapezius muscle (the muscle that connects your shoulder and your neck) will hurt like the dickens after I bowl. Something about the new movement involves this muscle in such a way that it doesn't hurt or even feel fatigued while I'm bowling, but the next day I can hardly lift my head off of the pillow.

This is a weird, and humbling, reminder to me of what happens when you ask your unprepared muscles to do new things.

Here's another example: Just before Christmas, I showed three friends a simple dumbbell workout that they could use to get in better shape. We used light weights and only worked out for about 30 minutes. I thought it was a relatively easy introduction to weight training that they could build on over time.

The next day, however, each of them was incredibly sore. They were creaking around like old people because their muscles, unused to the exercises we'd done, were recovering from quite a shock.

In both of these examples, jumping into a new activity or working a new movement pattern without taking the time to build up to it led to lots of soreness. In a weird way, I'm glad that I now have the experience of my poor overworked trapezius muscle tightening up and annoying me throughout the day -- it's a little reminder of how much soreness I used to endure back when I was first lifting weights and it helps me remember to take it easy when working with people who have little or no previous lifting experience.

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