Gratitude for My Experience With Chronic Pain

2021, FITNESS

I’m not out of the woods yet but I see the sun peeking through. I am at least 13 weeks into getting structural body work done as well as putting in significant daily efforts to recover and rebuild my mind/body connection. Last week was the first week that I noticed my CNS waking up.

I didn’t realize how much bandwidth had been dedicated to ignoring, minimizing, pushing through or addressing pain signals. I didn’t realize I wasn’t tasting my coffee, hearing the birds chirp or feeling my sons laughter. It wasn’t for lack of trying.

My knee jerk reaction was that I began thinking of all the moments I must have missed simply because I hadn’t been present enough to fully experience them. Each time my mind goes down that road I have to remind myself that I did the best I could.

Sometimes our best has to be enough even when it falls short.

As I slowly heal I have realized many ways in which this experience has impacted my life. In some ways for the worse but in many ways for the better.

-I am a more compassionate and empathetic human being because I have had to rely on the compassion and empathy of others to get through.

-I am learning to recieve help from others.

-I am learning to recognize when others are struggling and I try to reach out rather than squirm away in discomfort because I know the feeling of isolation.

-I work hard to appreciate the little things and celebrate small wins because sometimes big wins are few and far between.

-I learned self care and self love because I had to pull myself out of some pretty dark places.

-I am learning patience and how to have faith in the process because I am finally seeing healing after years of effort.

-I am moving from a perfectionism mindset to healthy striving because I have failed to meet the vision I had for myself many times over.

-I am only beginning to scratch the surface of what I’m capable of and I am so excited to test those limits on a healthy body.

All things in time. Lifting is a long game.

For now, I am going to soak in more of these experiences with my boys.

Making Progress While Sidelined As An Injured Athlete

2021, FITNESS

It’s easy to get discouraged when you are sidelined and get caught up ruminating over lost progress, missed goals or canceled events. I’ll admit I spent a short time in this head space before ultimately realizing that being sidelined was an opportunity for growth.

Box/ Rogue Fitness

Not sure where to start?

1. Address your injuries and enlist the help of a professional if needed.

For me, my injuries were not weightlifting related but rather a longstanding occupational issue. After a decade as a dental hygienist I have developed a significant amount of musculoskeletal imbalance, dysfunction and pain. My right side is full of shortened muscles and adhesions that helped me stabilize an awkward posture at work, especially post-partum when things were feeling less than stable in the abdominal region.

Tiger Balm/ Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salt Soak/ http://www.jenellewoodlief.com Silicone Cups & Sustainable Cork Therapy Ball

I am currently in the process of having these imbalances addressed professionally and learning specific self care and maintenence tools to keep my body more balanced for both life and sport.

Soft Tissue Work Using an AXIS OPTP Foam Roller/ Leggings: ZYIA Active/ Tank: Nike

2. Review and adjust your definition of progress if needed.

If your definition of progress is linked to numbers or is generally very narrow being sidelined will seem less tolerable.

3.Pay special attention to basic self care and recovery efforts.

Breath Work & Mind Body Connection

Now is a good time to make sure you are getting in decent macro and micro nutrients, taking care of your mental health and getting adequate sleep. Taking extra care in these basic self care areas will not only help your body heal but you will be better prepared to handle the added challenges when you do get back into the gym.

3. Start slow.

Crossover Symmetry Hip & Core Bands

Much of my instability and disfunction is in my right hip so I have been working on basic balancing exercises on one foot using different surfaces to add a challenge as it becomes more stable and I am slowly working toward being able to pistol squat on each side without cheating the movements. Crossover Symmetry hip and core bands have also been a great tool in re-teaching those muscles to fire and to test if they are firing equally (they are still not but keep improving with practice).

Now we are all guilty of cherry picking our favorites when it comes to training which is one of the reasons I need and utilize a coach. They will see and program what I would choose to otherwise pretend didn’t exist. Case in point; I would have never have programmed myself a sots press but it stabilized my overhead position in a snatch and now I appreciate the value in them and even look forward to them.

Personally I avoided unilateral movements unless they were programmed because they were difficult and uncomfortable. I was also pretty terrible at them because my balance was objectively poor and my core was not fully functioning. Taking time to work on these movements and learning to engage previously dysfunctional muscle groups is helping to even out some musculoskeletal discrepancies, therefore reducing my overall pain/discomfort level in the process. As a result I will continue to do unilateral work, core work and general athletic movements regularly.

Recovery will look different for everyone and will be highly dependent on injuries and personalized treatment plans of involved professionals. What works for me may not be applicable to you.

I am trying not to think of lost gains during the recovery process but trying to focus on the areas I am seeing improvement and have some control over. I’ve already experienced a huge increase in my quality of life which is why I am motivated and excited to heal and rebuild a sound body before loading up a training cycle or adding any events to my calendar.

What are some things, mental or physical, that have helped you get through periods of injury and recovery?