Most of us have experienced, or will experience, pain or injury multiple times in our lives. Getting the right help to bring our bodies back into health can feel hard enough, and if we’re lucky enough to reach a point where we’re ready to get back to our favorite sport or activity, it can feel like an impossible mountain to climb.
We ask ourselves questions like:
“What if it happens again?”
“If there’s pain, do I stop or push through?”
“What if I do this thing and get re-inured so badly I can’t even walk?! Maybe I’m just not meant to be a ______ (runner, cyclist, mountaineer, swimmer, CrossFiter).”
I learned to run again after 8 years of believing I never would:
As most of you know, I had knee pain that prevented me from running for 8 years.
Now, I can run anything – short, long, pavement, trail, uphill, down steep mountains…and most of the time I’m completely pain-free.
I say most of the time because I’ve promised to never bullshit you, and the truth is on rare occasions I do have twinges of knee pain. However, it no longer scares me or stops me from doing what I love, and – by experiencing knee pain sometimes, I’ve discovered a few amazing facts about recovery after long standing injuries that will help me help you get back out there too.
I just went running the other day for the first time in a month or so. The first few steps were creaky and stiff, and I noticed a familiar tightening around my left knee – the kind that years ago would have meant sharp stabbing knee pain if I ran even one more minute.
Instead of contracting in fear or cutting my run short, I was able to use a trick I’ve learned well over the past 5 years and nothing came of those creaky joints except more movement, fluidity and I had a pain-free run.
I want to let you in on this trick so you can apply it to your own body and sport. I believe we can do whatever we want, if we can just find a way to support our bodies.
Mind games can work FOR or against us! Our choice.
Let’s say you just recovered from an acute or long standing injury. You’ve been “cleared” to get back out there.
Those first few moments as we return to an activity that either produced a sudden and scary injury, or perhaps gave us pain for years or stopped us from doing something for a long time? They can be terrifying and produce all kinds of mind games.
The overwhelming nervous system response seems to be one of FEAR:
Fear of pain.
Fear of re-injury.
Fear that we’ll set ourselves back another month or year or decade.
Fear that we won’t get this right and we’ll have to give up the activity we love for good.
Your mind might even be re-creating the pain or accident like a movie it’s watching on re-play, in slow-mo. You watch yourself get injuried over and over and over.
If you’ve ever tried to return to an activity after injury then you probably know what I’m talking about.
Your mind might even be clever enough to convince you you’re not afraid, but YOUR BODY KNOWS THE TRUTH.
Our bodies simply manifest what we are telling them with our subconscious or nervous system.