Recover from an Injury and Move Again
Pick yourself up from an injury and find new ways to move again.
I remember laying on the couch, unable to shift my position without excruciating pain. It had been fifteen days of the same: when I had to get up, I would roll to my side, push myself up, and hobble. My body contorted in an attempt to protect itself—from what I wasn’t sure. Unsure of what the future held, I was mourning the loss of movement.
Our bodies are made to move: running, walking, dancing, and swimming are part of our history. Activity helps to stabilize our moods, keeps us healthy, and aids in restful sleep. When we are used to moving our bodies daily, and then are not able to for days or weeks, we feel the difference. Sometimes life gets too busy or we suffer from an injury that makes any kind of movement feel impossible.
There are injuries and circumstances that we are able to move beyond completely, and there are those that leave us with a diminished ability to do what we used to be able to do with our bodies because structurally something has shifted. Both situations yearn for compassion towards ourselves. We have to accept that we are out of shape, or accept that what we knew ourselves to be capable of is no longer something that we can do, and there can be a great deal of sorrow in that acceptance. Wishing it was different will add to the pain, finding new ways to move in our bodies lets us find a new path forward.
What came out of my injury, and the ongoing back pain that I deal with, has become a blessing. I created a class for women who were feeling the effects of lack of movement. Some had life-changing injuries, and some had been too busy to do any kind of movement regularly and felt sluggish and were not present in their bodies. I incorporated my many years in the fitness industry with what I learned in rehabilitation. As a result of teaching these classes, I learned that when returning to movement, there are some important concepts to keep in mind.
Remember to breathe. When we are in pain, we constrict around our pain. Our body needs breath to heal, so sending your breath into any part of your body that feels pain allows it relax, and offers the possibility of returning to balance.
Things may be different. I have had to let go of types of movement that I used to love: running trails uphill is no longer an option, extra long surf sessions are out, super intense yoga classes are a no-go. I am still sometimes sad about not being able to do these things, but I remind myself that I can hike the trail, I can still paddle out into the ocean, ducking myself under the breaking waves, and gentle asanas bring me back to my center. The movement you can do may be different, but it’s still movement.
Be hopeful and curious. Spending too much time remembering how things used to be, how you used to move, will only add to your suffering. Be hopeful for discovering how you get to move, and notice the way your body and your spirit responds to different types of movement.
Mind your maintenance. Having a simple, consistent routine that focuses on the basics: core strength, flexibility, and overall balance is an important part of bringing movement back into your life. I now have a program that I do almost daily to keep me connected to that sense of stability within, and I know it keeps me moving.
Be open to opportunities. If you can’t return to movement you have done in the past, look for opportunities to try something different. I recently started playing beach volleyball with a group of women, and it’s been such a gift in my life. We laugh, we play hard, and it has whipped me into shape faster than I could have imagined.
Nature and nurture. There is a deep part of us that is fed by being in nature, and also by being in community with others. Include these two aspects in your journey back to movement, and you will not only increase your motivation for those days when you don’t want to go, you’ll also amplify the boost that movement brings to your health.
Start slow. This was the hardest one for me: I wanted to jump back into doing everything I used to do. I learned the hard way that when I did, the chances of me getting re-injured were high. Slowing down, and listening to what your body is telling you is vital. Our bodies are constantly speaking to us; sometimes in a whisper and sometimes in a yell. When we can listen to the whisper, we don’t have to experience the pain of the scream.