Rehabbing and Combatting Injuries

By Ken Whetham

If you’re involved in the world of competitive powerlifting or strength sports, there’s a good chance that at some point you will experience an injury or more than likely, multiple injuries.  Whether it’s a muscle tear, back injury, ligament or joint issue, or a bone fracture, most lifters who push themselves to the fine line of optimum performance will experience injuries to one degree or another.  I’ve always liked the analogy of comparing powerlifters to Top Fuel dragsters.  They are extreme machines built for quick bursts of great horsepower utilizing nitromethane, superchargers, aerodynamics, and any high-tech means available to squeeze every ounce of performance out of their cars for every race.

If you ever watch Top Fuel dragsters, you quickly realize how much maintenance is required to keep them performing at an optimum level. After each race, the Crew Chief and pit crew tear the engines apart, inspecting all the bearings, checking each valve and valve springs, inspecting the engine block and cylinder sleeves, replacing the superchargers, injectors, magnetos and adjusting the clutch to ensure the car is ready for another thunderous run down the track.  I can tell you from my experience that there are parallels in maintaining Top Fuel dragsters and high-level powerlifters.

Your first line of defense in avoiding injuries and keeping yourself in optimum health is to have found a competent support system of professionals (your very own pit crew) that can help you maintain your lifting health. I am incredibly fortunate to have two people in particular that I rely on to keep me functioning at a high level. Dr. Stu McGill and Dr. Ken Kinakin have helped me tremendously in the past and continue to do so on an ongoing basis. Both Stu and Ken are leaders in their respective fields and are particularly intuitive when working with strength athletes.  Dr. Kinakin has attended my last few meets with me to ensure I am functioning at an optimal level when I hit the platform.  I was blessed to have both Ken and Stu attend the Canadian Nationals with me this year, and I sincerely appreciate their friendship and everything they have done for me.



There are some things that you can do to keep your body functioning at a high-performance level.  Sometimes you have to rely on other professionals to help you achieve your goals.  Some professional services you may consider to aid in maintaining your health are:

  • Chiropractic Adjustments
  • Muscle Testing
  • Acupuncture Treatments
  • Massage
  • Fascial Stretch Therapy
  • Cryogenic Treatments
  • Cold/Hot Therapy

My wife & I have our treatment table at home and a few handy tools that we utilize to help keep our bodies functioning so we can lift and compete.

One of the most recent pieces of equipment that we’ve purchased and have started to use on a regular basis is a Centurian PEMF system (Pulsed Electro Magnetic Field) therapy unit.  The unit sends pulsed electromagnetic energy into your body to stimulate cellular repair.

PEMF’s work to:

  • Reduce pain, inflammation, the effects of stress on the body, and platelet adhesion.
  • Improve energy, circulation, blood and tissue oxygenation, sleep quality, blood pressure and cholesterol levels, the uptake of nutrients, cellular detoxification and the ability to regenerate cells.
  • Balance the immune system and stimulate RNA and DNA.
  • Accelerate repair of bone and soft tissue.
  • Relax muscles.

I have been using the PEMF system daily to help with my recent knee injury, and it seems to help speed up healing really.



For more information on the PEMF system go to

Another device that we use on a regular basis to help release tight muscles and increase a range of motion is a powerful handheld device called an Erchonia Percussor.  We use this device to relieve muscle tension and treat any knots or tightness in the muscle.



For more information on the Erchonia Percussor go to

We also utilize a set of needle-less acupuncture units called Dolphin Neurostims.  These units alleviate pain by using micro-current point stimulation therapy, which combines the principles of acupuncture and modern neurology to provide neuro-myofascial pain relief.


For more information on the Dolphin Neurostims go to

Your training depends on how well you can keep your body functioning at a pain-free level.  If you’re hurt or suffering from injury, your training won’t be optimal. There are a lot of different pieces of the puzzle that you need to dedicate and commit to if you want to ensure you can progress with your lifting such as:

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Supplementation
  • Effective Training
  • Prehab
  • Rehab

One performance-enhancing device that I think is under-rated as part of a rehab process in keeping your body functioning at a high level is a CPAP machine.   Sleep is probably the number one priority to recover from training stimulus, restore your body to homeostasis, and stimulate growth. If you’re not sleeping well, or you suffer from sleep apnea or snoring, a CPAP machine may be a godsend to improve your sleep, recovery, and performance.  When I went for a sleep study, the results showed I had stopped breathing 170+ times during the night.  I knew I was snoring and wasn’t feeling rested after an intermittent night of sleep, but I had no idea that my sleep was that bad.  I got my CPAP machine and immediately felt 100x better in the morning, well rested, and my training improved.  If you have any sleep issues whatsoever, I highly recommend getting a sleep study and CPAP machine, if warranted, to help you improve your training and recovery.



Powerlifting at the highest level deserves the same amount of maintenance as a Top Fuel dragster to ensure your body is kept in optimal condition for each competition. If your body is broken or compromised in any way, you can’t compete at your best.  Consider pooling your resources together and establishing your pit crew because you’ll likely need them sooner than later.

Treat yourself like an athlete 24/7 and learn how by pickup up a copy of 10/20/Life Second Edition

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Ken Whetham

Ken is a full-time Firefighter and Rescue Technician with the Oshawa Fire Department and is a certified Kettlebell Coach and WKC Master Trainer. Ken competed in Kettlebell Sport and won several championships across North America. In 2012, Ken competed in the Firefighter Combat Challenge where he won the Canadian National Championship. Ken trains at his home “Outlaw Powerlifting” gym outside Toronto, Ontario with a team of lifters that train and compete together. Ken is an Elite powerlifter in the 275 and 308 lb weight class and his current best lifts are 940/550/705 and his current goal is to squat 1000 lbs to become one of the few lifters to achieve that goal in their early 50’s.
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