My immediate solution is to just not do it.
This is usually the case when there is simply just not enough time or information available to provide a sound substitution. I’d rather not ask someone to do something for the sole reason of filling the void. When there is pain involved, there can often be an underlying issue that likely needs to be addressed. There is, however, an inherent need to fill the void for some individuals. And if you’re looking to do something pain free in the future, we should probably figure out a progressive path forward, not just a place holder.
The scenario might be “it hurts when I do burpees, what else can I do?”. Well, there's a lot you could do.
My immediate solution is to just not do them. There are likely a few other exercises in that particular training session, and removing the one that gives you pain should allow you to train successfully. We’re able to remove the anxiety associated with the movement and provide a pain free environment to continue training. That isn’t necessarily a progressive path forward, but we are effectively avoiding pain. It only becomes an issue when that training piece is void of any other exercises.
Another solution would be to modify the exercise to create a similar but pain free movement. This may help with those times burpees are programmed by themselves. We can often compartmentalize movements into manageable variations. It preserves the intended stimulus to a degree, but it mostly acts as a place holder until the pain subsides or you fix the issue. Should the pain never go away, you must face what you’re doing (or not doing) isn’t working.
Another solution would be taking the time allotted to address the underlying issues. We have to figure out where the pain is coming from and prescribe stuff to rehabilitate. I usually migrate to pain free rotations of the joints involved, or positional isometrics to build strength in the affected tissues, or “insert optimal drill” based on assessment. The thought process is, if I can make the stuff involved function better, maybe we can progress back to the burpee down the road. This may be the progressive path forward, but we must know what we’re intending to do.
The point here is to establish why you need a substitution and how much you care about addressing the real issue. It may be as simple as finding a substitution for now, but there is likely a more progressive conversation you can have with your coach. Coaching can provide an effective strategy to answer those questions to provide meaningful solutions.
Emile Maxwell Connaughton