Injuries, Pain and Adversity are the BEST Teachers.

I haven’t just studied injuries to help my clients recover, I’ve lived them – extensively. I’ve had multiple broken bones, torn and pulled muscles, torn ligaments, torn tendons, a stabbing puncture to my abdominals, cuts, concussions, surgeries, scrapes, burns, bruises and fucking everything else.  All of my injures have their own unique story, but irregardless, I know they all happened for a reason.  Some were purely poor choices, and some where beyond my control.  Reasons of being over aggressive, being at the wrong place at the wrong time, immaturity, foolishness, ego, pride and many, many more.  I’m not perfect, but I have tried to learn from them all.

My last major injury was a few years ago. It was due to overtraining and repetitive explosive sprints while fatigued. Not a good combo by the way.  I should have known better than to push it, but I didn’t see any reason to stop other than sore, tight muscles.  I had a common, lose-lose no pain, no gain mentality.  And then POP!  The sound I heard echo throughout the gym.  I asked myself, “did someone hit me” but no-one was around.  Just my floppy foot from my torn achilles tendon.  I denied it at first, but then its set in. I’m FUCKED!  The rest is a blur.  The nightmare of getting treated at the VA (Veterans Hospital) for hours, just to have them tell me “keep it wrapped up & ice it.”  They scheduled me for another appointment 4 weeks later. WTF!!!!   I thought I might get an MRI on the spot, but it was booked and I wasn’t enough of an emergency. Or so they claimed.

I was beyond pissed off by this point, but despite the anger I was feeling at the circumstance, I knew in my gut where the blame belonged.  The VA didn’t injure me, I did.  It would have helped getting the care I needed, the care that could have made recovery a little easier, I could have blamed government healthcare for leaving me out to dry. But the truth is, no hospital could undo the damage, or turn back time, because it was already done.  So I did exactly what I have always done to survive, I dug in determined to heal and I did my own research.

I studied exactly what my body needed to heal itself.  I needed to immobilize my achilles for 6-7 weeks in a boot brace with an elevated heal.  I learned that I might be better off not getting surgery and healing it on my own.  No surgery? Doesn’t everyone get surgery for a torn achilles?  This is when I had to grow a pair, get serious about healing and taking care of myself.  No one was going to help me and my VA health care was a joke.  Complicating things even more, I had to borrow a boot brace from a friend.  Yes that’s right, my achilles boot wasn’t even the right healing device, because the VA didn’t give me one at all.  However, the VA finally got me an MRI 7 weeks later, after making 27 phone calls and waiting on the phone for fucking hours each time.  It was already healing and starting to come together.  So by then I wouldn’t let them touch me with a 10 foot stick, even if they wanted to do surgery.  Fuck it, I was gonna heal it myself, come hell or high water.

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The picture on the left is me doing ARP Wave. A Neuro Therapy Accelerated Recovery Performance Training device. It basically activates muscle & soft tissues to regenerate itself back to recovery status through electric waves.  The other picture is me just showing off with my friends brace boot doing one leg training.  Just an example of how hard I wanted to come back.

My injury happened two weeks before the snowboarding season and I was bound and determined to savage the season by healing as fast as possible, even with all my problems with the VA.  I was devastated, defeated, frustrated, upset and discouraged that my training regime got me injured.  But after 45 + ARP-Wave sessions and a ton of physical therapy I was back on the snow in 3 1/2 months.

You will learn a lot about who you are and what you are capable of, both physically and mentally, during an injury.  Believe me, the human body can take a lot, but the human mind is limitless if you believe it is.  Only weak-minded people retire after their first injury or set back.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Adversity is nothing to be scared of.  Allow yourself to be driven by it and it will become your fuel source.  It will make you tough and tough-minded, remember that.

So here’s my advice:
If you are overtraining, STOP.  You can easily evaluate if your training methods are getting results with fitness evaluations by a professional.  If your overtraining is about losing weight or body fat, get yourself educated on nutrition and energy systems.  You’ll find its 70% nutritional and 30% in the gym.  Seriously, look at your recovery and nutrition methods.  Are they working?  So often we work too hard, and not smart. Bodies wear and tear, do the least harm to your body that gets you maximum results. That’s what professionals are there for, to help you find that sweet spot.

Pay attention to tissue health and tight muscles.  When is the last time you had a functional movement screen done?  If you’re training for a sport, your coaches should be able to spot performance gains or drops.  Don’t get yourself injured because you wouldn’t take a day off to recover.  You are no good to your team if your injured.  When you’re in pain or injured you move differently.  You will alter your mechanics to function, but it will become a dysfunction.  Putting strength or conditioning on dysfunction only makes the dysfunction worse.  So for the love of god, seek experienced professional treatment and research everything before you get talked into 3x a week cookie cutter chiropractic that won’t do shit for you, but cost you money.  Or before you get talked into having surgery on something, YOU DON’T FUCKING NEED SURGERY ON.  I see this all time.  People get talked into to treatments or surgeries without doing their research or seeking a second option. Easy doesn’t mean better or more effective, and it doesn’t even always turn out to be easier if the surgery or treatment doesn’t work.

Be patient and be real, but don’t throw your hands up and say this is my only option.  Do your homework and be willing to work hard to come back 100%, whatever the cost. You may make a few mistakes with treatment options, but if you’re not getting better, try something else.  If you’re not putting in consistent work, then be honest about your effort towards healing yourself. Most people show up for less than half their prescribed therapy sessions before quitting or resorting to surgery, and never get results. The reward is the journey to overcoming adversity, coming out stronger and wiser on the other side.

This is me getting ready for American Ninja Warrior a year and half after my injury.  I’m jumping at 50 inches away from the box, that is 34 inches high.  Remember, Its the journey that counts.

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