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Ego vs. Injury

This is a post I wrote in Wordpress in 2017. I was a little more blunt (possibly crass) then, but it still holds true. Since I don't use my Wordpress account anymore, I would like to share this post here:

"I'm thankfully over the hump of my injury and starting to see improvement with significantly decreased pain and increased tolerance to jogging some slow miles.  When we are in a slump, we don't "see" clearly.  So I wanted to write about this now so that if this ever happens again (and it will) I can open it and be reminded.  I also think this is a great reminder for everyone.

Here are the rules when you are injured, no matter the injury, no matter the sport:

1.  The typical window of tissue healing is 6-8 weeks.  Although the word typical is used, that does not mean concrete.  What that means is, within this time, you should start to see improvement.  Maybe there is less pain, more function, better energy levels, or just less crankiness overall.  The healing time is based on a lot of things: the severity of the injury, how the injury came about, nutrition, stress level, and how long you decide to actually let the damn thing heal.

What does that mean?  If it hurts, DON'T DO IT.  Every time the tissue is aggravated, the scab has been picked.  Yeah, gross.  But really.  This is where the true ego vs. injury clash comes in.  Your mind says to do it anyway while your body is trying to tell you "no" in the only way it can, which is pain.  The most important skill that seems to have lost a little of its value nowadays is to LISTEN (this isn't a political article so I'll stop there).  Don't do what hurts but go do what doesn't hurt.  As an example, my right knee hurt like hell to run but it felt fine to do weighted squats.  So guess what?  Squats were a great friend of mind, which was wonderful because I was able to address lower extremity strength without compromising the health of the injured tissue.  This does not mean rest for 6-8 weeks.  Rest is certainly important but at some point, it's time to get back on that horse.

Personally, my injury took 9-10 weeks to heal and it's still not completely "normal" but it's getting there.  Just get this window of healing time in your head.

2.  Stop being so stubborn.  Stop thinking that you're never going to be happy unless you are able to do whatever it is you can't do because of your injury.  Here's an idea: You can be happy if you let yourself.  Find joy in things that maybe you didn't have as much time for before because your focus was elsewhere.  Whenever you find yourself thinking about your limitations or your injury, redirect your focus and continue to live your life.

I discovered I really like to put together puzzles and that they are not just for retirement homes!  It gave me the same meditative qualities that running did.  I could listen to music, sip on some tea, and just look for pieces.  Sure, thoughts would come up and I could feel my breathing change or my jaw clench and then I would just let them go and look for another piece.  It is wonderful and I highly recommend it.

3.  See a physical therapist!  Sure, you could say this is a biased statement because I am one.  But I wouldn't do this job unless I truly believed in it.  And don't just go to any physical therapist.  Shop around for one that has what you want.  I think manual therapy is a great tool that is unique to physical therapy but not all physical therapists practice this way.  Find someone who will give you hands-on care and not run you through an assembly line of techs or athletic trainers when you are technically paying for specialized physical therapy care.  Ask around your community to see what experiences they have had with different practitioners.  If you don't see improvement, no matter how small, in 2-4 weeks then move on to something/someone else.

I guess I should make my case a little stronger instead of just saying I am one so go do it.  Here's the thing, physical therapists are movement specialists.  They have been trained to look at the forest for the trees.  Okay so this injury happened, but how?  One important thing to remember is that not all physical therapists are created equal.  If one clinic did not help guide you to recovery, then it's that particular place that wasn't a good fit for you, not physical therapy as a whole.  Shop around.

4.  The most important item on this list is this: your injury does not reflect your talent, your ability, or who you are as a "runner" or person.  Don't get caught up in the drama of it.  You are injured, so what.  It will pass.  Be wise, be kind, and be understanding.  Social media is a great challenge for this.  While you're slumped on the couch feeling sorry for yourself, there's nothing worse than scrolling through Facebook to see all the physical activity events your friends are doing without you!  Get off the computer and go surround yourself with things that make you happy.  Get out of your head and remember that hardly anyone ever posts about how bored they are.

I hope this is helpful to someone.  If someone had told me this stuff a few weeks ago,  I would have been tempted to tell them to shove it up their ass.  If you feel that way now, that's fine.  The world will be there for you when you are ready to get over it."

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