My kids love to challenge me to wrestling matches so they can reenact their favorite WWE Superstars.  How can I resist? My kids get to live out their wrestling fantasies and I get to teach them a lesson or two without CPS being called.

Before you get CPS on the phone, they hurt me more than I hurt them. More on that later.


Wrestling matches spontaneously happen in our house on a regular basis without incident except for a few years ago, when I was going through some low back issues.

While smacking into each other, I felt an intense, sharp stabbing pain in my low back due to a back spasm and I could barely get up off the carpet. My kids looked at me all confused as I convulsed on the floor in pain.

“Daddy hurt his back again,” I explained. “No more wrestling today. Sorry.”

If you’ve ever suffered from a back spasm, you can feel my pain and if you haven’t ever had one, cross your fingers that you never do.


Leading an active lifestyle is healthy and fun but it comes with a risk. Sooner or later you’re going to get hurt and spend time on the DL. However, this always out weights the risk of being a lazy bum any day of the week.

Being a 47-year-old active male, I’ve had my fair share of minor injuries. Some have been my fault and some haven’t but through it all I’ve made it a point to remain active.

When you twist and then shout, rather than moping around and feeling sorry for yourself, pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get back on the exercise horse with these following tips.

NoteThis advice is meant for minor, non-life threatening injuries to help you with your recovery and keep you in a positive frame of mind.

1. Exercise around the injury

This one may seem obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people shut it down once they’re hurt. I’ve seen people in wheelchairs and other people missing limbs lift weights. If they can do it, the rest of us can, too.

Here are a few suggestions

  • If your upper body is hurt, train your legs.
  • If your legs are hurt, train your upper body with machines or dumbbells
  • If your back hurts, walking, particularly fast walking, can help
  • Try isometric exercises when the muscle produces force but there’s no movement. These are great when movement hurts


Push up plank



Wall squats



Isometric hip extension



2. Train the non-injured side

One of my toughest challenges was training a gentleman who had one leg amputed below his knee. He hired me to prepare him for his prosthetic leg. As you can imagine, exercise was tough for him because he was in a lot of pain and discomfort.

However, during our time together he never complained. If he could exercise without whining, then so can we.

A lot of what we did together was to strengthen the healthy limb to help strengthen the injured limb, a process called cross education. (1) To cut a long story short, some of the strength benefit is transferred from one limb to another.

In my experience, doing most of your training on a machine that allows you to train unilaterally works best. Machines like

  • Leg extensions/Leg curls
  • Chest presses/ Seated rows
  • Biceps curl/Triceps extensions

Machines are not all bad especially when you’re injured.

3. Modify your movements

I once had a client whose doctor told her that she had to stop squatting immediately because of an old knee injury that flared up. My response to this was

“Well, that should make using the bathroom an interesting experience.­­­”

Even while we’re injured, we still perform fundamental human movements such has squatting, pushing, pulling, hinging and carrying stuff around. Life doesn’t stop when we’re hurting and neither should your training.

Here are some exercise modifications examples for when your knee, shoulder or back is hurting/injured.  These are stolen from Andrew Millet, an excellent Physical Therapist /Strength coach in Boston.

Low back pain modifications

Goblet squat to a box



Reverse lunges



Knee pain modifications

Trap bar deadlift



Box squats



Shoulder pain modifications

Floor press



Half kneeling Landmine press



Wrapping up

One of the challenges of being injured is finding a way to keep moving because movement is medicine and this helps heal the body and keep your state of mind positive.

Keep moving and stay strong,  amigos.

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