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Bloody Shins Aren’t a Badge of Honor

You know who I’m talking about.

The guy that Instas his dislocated shoulder… #inittowinit.

The girl that posts her scraped up shins… #pride.

Perhaps, a lot of cult-like strength and conditioning disciplines are pushing training and psychology too far toward the extreme… or maybe their clients take it the wrong way when the coaches reassure them that a bruise just means they tried hard. Regardless, something is backwards in fitness and the weightroom is getting a whole lot of recognition these days for injuries..

Remember when you were a kid? You accumulated all sorts of injuries, ranging from scrapes and contusions to breaks and lacerations. Pain is an evolutionary training tool designed to steer you away from behaviors and environments that aren’t healthy for you. In other words, if you broke your arm falling out of a tree, you either learned to keep a better grip on the branch or to stay the hell away from the tree altogether. Making a mistake didn’t use to be something you could feel proud of. People used to try to hide their mistakes from others.

Fitness professionals toe the line a little. They have to. In order to force your body into adaptation, it needs to be put through stressful situations. Anyone who’s ever tried to hit a new PR in the squat rack or max out your push-up rep-count knows how painful it can get. However, this pain isn’t related to injury, especially if your mechanics are sound.

Enter the new fitness enthusiast. This type of zealot drives me crazy. He goes ass-over-teakettle off the plyo box and has a big split shin to prove it. Rather than absorb the stimuli the environment gave him and try to learn from a mistake, he gets back on the box and displays the same pattern of behavior that fortunately only resulted in a cut. This time.

Side note: I hope he cleaned the blood off the box because that’s disgusting.

His newfound love for a warrior-like mentality has evolved into exhibiting scorn or disdain for those who don’t share his passion. He’ll also tell you about how cool it was to wear a sling for 8 weeks after trying to sloppily PR his snatch.

It’s not cool.

Flipping the box should have told him that the box was too tall or his jump mechanics were faulty. It didn’t. The dislocated shoulder should be an omen to future problems in his snatch if the weight isn’t properly leveraged. It won’t be. Bloody shins from a deadlift should tell you to get over the bar. It won’t. It’s not a badge of honor. It’s a mistake on full display. An injury should be the least desirable outcome of training. Yet for some reason, injuries have become trendy. It means you worked harder than everyone else. It’s a false sense of superiority. In no other avenue or industry (maybe extreme sports are the exception), is it acceptable to brag about making a mistake. You’d look and feel foolish. Rest assured, if you don’t feel shame or learn a lesson for making a mistake, someone will be in your ear.

Fitness training is supposed to make you better, stronger, faster, healthier. By definition, injuries take you down a peg.

Think about that the next time you grab your phone to Snap your broken pinky.


Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS

Author: Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS

Aaron Runner is the Owner of Full-Stride Performance in Roswell, GA and a former NCAA Strength & Conditioning Coach.

Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS

Aaron Runner, MS, CSCS View All

Aaron Runner is the Owner of Full-Stride Performance in Roswell, GA and a former NCAA Strength & Conditioning Coach.

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