We treat a lot of athletes at Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center. The last thing we want to do is to have an athlete stop all activity. Unfortunately, sometimes, based on the issue, there aren’t many options and an athlete needs to withdraw from all painful activity. Before getting to that point, however, we recommend that an athlete slows down to heal.

If you have shoulder pain related to overhead motion, it’s best to avoid activity that irritates it.  Therefore, lifting weights overhead is probably not a good idea. Doing pullups could also further irritate your condition. Following this logic, snatches are probably not the best idea either. If you continue doing these activities, you will prolong your recovery or even make the problem worse. In either case, you will be out of action for a longer period of time.

I previously worked with a triathlete that had a possible stress fracture in her foot, a warning sign that she was overtraining.  She didn’t want to slow down and eventually the injury turned into a full blown stress fracture. Instead of modifying her workout, she continued cycling at full intensity with her boot on. As a result, she developed a stress fracture in her other foot! Instead of being sidelined for 8 weeks. She was out of action for 18 months! Lesson learned!

If you have an injury, aside from complete withdrawal from an activity, what can you do to stay in the game? The answer is simple. You can regress to progress. Find an exercise or movement that you can perform that is similar to your activity but puts less stress on the area and causes no pain or compensation. We call this working within your neural edge. For example, if heavy squats cause back pain, squat with less weight. If using less weight still causes pain, squat without weight. If squatting without weight causes pain, you need to regress even more.

To determine if you are within your neural edge, you need to be able to maintain your intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) throughout the movement. If you cannot, you are working outside of your capacity. If you are unsure what IAP is, you are most likely working outside of your capacity! A person/athlete needs to be able to breathe, stabilize, and move without load (weight) before considering adding load. If you can’t crawl, how can you walk, let alone perform heavy squats?

Time and time again, I see athletes with shoulder, neck, or back pain who continue to lift weight overhead, yet they cannot maintain their IAP in an overhead position even without weight. These patients need to regress to progress. While we don’t like telling people to stop performing an activity, it is usually vital to their care that they initially withdraw from the offending activities. Our goal is to help them get back “in the game”, as quickly as possible.

We work with many excellent coaches and trainers in South Jersey. They are well skilled in regressing their athletes. If you have an issue related to a specific movement, please talk to your coach/trainer about regressing that activity. At Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center every patient treatment plan is based on the ability to breathe, stabilize, and move better.  While our focus is usually getting you out of pain, it is also to teach you to become aware of IAP and how to apply this concept in your daily activities, exercise, and sports.

At Nelson Chiropractic & Pilates Center we have four sports chiropractors and a physical therapist who are trained in multiple techniques to help you achieve your goals. Our unique blend of chiropractic adjustments, Active Release Technique (ART), Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization (DNS), NeuroKinetic Therapy (NKT), Proprioceptive Deep Tendon Reflex (P-DTR), Restorative Breathing, rehabilitative exercises, and more will help you get back in the game! Remember, it’s better to slow down to heal then to crash and burn.


Eric Nelson, DC DACBSP