Return of the Six Dollar Man

In Freeletics, Injury problems by All This Running Around14 Comments

[quote]We can’t rebuild him. We don’t have the technology. Or the need, frankly. We can’t make him better than he was because despite it being 2015, cybernetics is still a largely underdeveloped field of science. And let’s be honest, look at the state of him. Anyone fancy a pint?[/quote]



Before you put your fist through the screen out of sheer frustration at the fact this blog has essentially become an account of injuries, WAIT. Take a breath. Because I’m going to look to try and take a look at this from a different perspective than usual. (Admittedly, my usual perspective is essentially one of foul language and idiocy, but just ignore that for now.)

So, WHAT’S THE BLOODY PROBLEM THIS TIME THEN EH? Well, I like to keep things fresh. It’s boring getting the same injury over and over again so I thought I’d experiment with a new one. With that in mind, I am pleased to report that this week’s moans and groans are brought to you by my left arm. Of all things. I’ve never experienced an arm injury before. It’s not very pleasant.

About two weeks ago, I started to notice a bit of stiffness on the inside of my left elbow, right in the spot where you can feel the tendons running down your arm. But it was no worse than stiffness, and it wasn’t preventing me from actually working out. So I carried on, and things stayed more or less at the same kind of level for a while. Four or five days ago, the stiffness had turned into intermittent pain that not just limited to that part of my arm. I was now feeling it in my shoulder and right down to my hand. But still I wouldn’t have described it as being agonising. Annoying more than anything.

Then Kronos arrived to administer a bloody good arse kicking. It’s a delightful little workout if you’ve never had the pleasure. It starts with 100 push ups and gradually gets worse from there. It was a bad sign right from the off – I was struggling a bit with the pain in my left arm and although I managed to do all 100, I was definitely having to favour my right. (So I can do one-handed push ups now, right? HAHA DON’T BE BLOODY RIDICULOUS.)

Anyway, I knocked a couple of minutes off the PB, but as the day wore on I began to suspect that I’d have been better off resting. But, you know… No excuses and all that interminable bullshit.

I didn’t get a lot of sleep that night, as my now largely useless limb felt like it did after a dead arm contest in school. (A dead arm contest basically consists of you and your friends hitting each other in the arm as hard as possible until your opponents give up. I did not do very well at school.) Every time I moved I got a real sharp stabbing pain that seemed to travel right up and down from my shoulder to my hand. Even moving my fingers was uncomfortable.

Bloody, bloody, bloody.

My next workout was (and still is) Helios. No push ups in there, but Coach being the absolute bastard it is, there are 50 to do once I’ve finished. I know that if I wanted to, I could grind it out. But I had a chat with my wife about it this morning (she’s also doing Freeletics) and she told me I should definitely rest it for a few days. So that’s what I’ve decided to do – it’s annoying but there we are.

Having used the internet to pointlessly (and probably incorrectly) self diagnose, it looks like I could have something called Golfer’s Elbow. It is common among people that take part in grip-intensive sports such as climbing and (it would seem reasonable to assume) golf. So it does seem little strange to me given that the only aspect of Freeletics that requires a strong grip is pull-ups, and I don’t do that many of them. But this might not be the problem at all. I’m as reluctant as ever to go to visit the doctor, but will if the pain persists for more than a few days as I suspect/hope that a course of anti-inflammatories might help.

So there we are. But it raises a larger question, one that’s been buzzing around my head for a while now. Since I started Freeletics I have had, to various different degrees, problems with my shoulders, chest, hips, legs and now arms. (Well, arm.) And no, I’m not including the time I fell of the pull-up bar, since that happened on the account of my being a moron.

Freeletics is hard. I’m 40. Now, I’m not saying that 40 is old. I guess it probably seems old when you’re 20. But by the time you’ve hit 40, your perception has changed an awful lot in order to allow you to continue to ignore the irrefutable fact of your own mortality. It is by this method that I can look at somebody like Sylvester Stallone and think, “well he’s 68. 68! And he looks great. A bit weird, but great.”. Ergo, 68 is not ‘old’.

But whichever way you look at it, 40 is 40. You are past your prime. Your body has already started to respond to things differently. It’s harder to shift fat. Your bones become less dense. And if you’re like me, you become a grotesque physical parody of the man you once were (NO I AM NOT CRYING).

So is Freeletics really good for us older farts, or are we at risk of doing more harm than good? The Freeletics FAQ is both disconcertingly vague and annoyingly inflexible when it comes to the subject of age. It says: “We are convinced that having only one program strengthens the community and leads to success for everyone. We don’t want to put physically inactive and older people into a corner by giving them workouts, which will neither give them an effective progress nor are interesting for other athletes. If you want to become an athlete, you have to train like one. Simple as that.”

I’ve read that a dozen times and I’m still not sure what the underlying message is meant to be. Plus, what IS older? I would imagine that I’m older than the vast majority of people that do Freeletics. But surely the degree by which I’m older makes a difference? Or does everyone just go into the ‘older’ bracket once they hit an arbitrary age?

Also, I don’t actually want to ‘become an athlete’. I want to be fitter and stronger and that’s about all I want. (Actually I would also like a new power drill, but this is not the time to discuss it.)

I think this merits some wider research and hopefully some answers. At the very least I would like to get some opinion on effectiveness of high intensity training in ‘older’ people. So my plan (that I just came up with about three minutes ago whilst eating a biscuit) is to try and get some opinion on this from people qualified to talk about the effects of training, both positive and negative. I’ve no idea who I’m going to ask, or if I will be successful in getting anyone to speak to me about it, but I’m going to give it a go.