A physical injury is something most people will experience at one point in their lives. Whether it’s a silly accident, like tripping over something your dog left on the floor or a sports-related injury, being injured just sucks!
These past few weeks have been insane for me. A few weeks ago I went on a bootcamp and I trained for 4 hours a day outdoors. This week was less insane but it still had lots of activities both outdoors and indoors. You know how I always preach about listening to your body? Well, this time I didn’t. I pushed too hard. I decided to push through the pain, go past my limits. Did I become better and stronger? Maybe. I’ll never really know because I injured myself.
So now I have a lovely sprained wrist, which healing slowly and keeping me away from most of my favorite physical activities. All this on top of making my day to day life harder, as it’s precisely my right wrist and I’m definitely a righty. What lessons are there two learn from a physical injury you ask? A lot, my dear! A lot.
If every fiber in your body tells you something is too much, it probably is
Or in other words: “Listen to your body! It’s really smart.” If you do this properly, you might actually avoid a physical injury altogether. Sure, this is true for those sports-related injuries and no for tripping over something because you were walking staring 100% at your phone. That’s just common sense! Use it!
Back to sports-related physical injuries. Listening to your body, understanding when you’re really pushing too hard versus where you’re just improving isn’t always easy. Take my case for instance. I workout 3-4 times a week and do something less intense in the other days, like I wrote in this post about my weekly routine. I decided to try a bootcamp. Truth is I needed to get away from the city for a while, spend time in nature, with good friends. The bootcamp had all this. Plus lots of workouts. The first day was amazing. But by the evening, after a circuit training hour, one of tabata, another on of hatha yoga and finally some dancing I was exhausted.
The next morning I felt sore all over my body and could barely move. But it was the last day of the bootcamp and there was a competition happening. Do I back out precisely of the competition? I should, but then again, everybody is sore like me, I thought. The trainers (they were full of good intentions, really, I don’t blame them) held a speech about pushing beyond our limitations to become better and stronger. If we stayed in our comfort zone we’d never improve. The problem? I was already way out of my comfort zone. I had never worked out in nature for 4 hours in a single day. Plus hicked through the forest, I shouldn’t forget that.
Long story short, I gave in and competed. Ten minutes into the competition I was on the ground screaming in pain with a sprained wrist. Moral of the story? You won’t improve unless you go past your limits. So do that. Push the extra mile. But don’t keep pushing for improvement’s sake. When every fiber in your body tells you to stop, you probably should. If you’ve already gone beyond your limits, beyond what you’re used to and you feel you’re done, stop! Pat yourself on the back for your progress. And rest.
Patience is a virtue. It’s also mandatory to heal a physical injury
No matter how you get your injury, once it’s there, it’ll stay with you for a while. So make friends with it. Because if you try to force it to go away quicker, if you try to push it, it’ll come back with a pain 10 times worse and will take twice as much to heal.
But really, now, I’m not here to tell you something you already know. Or something the doctor will tell you anyway. This post isn’t a medical advice, I’m not a doctor.
The point is, depending on the type of physical injury, you are really forced to learn patience like no other. The more your injury takes from you, the more activities you have to give up, the harder it will be. And as it heals, you feel closer and closer to doing the things you love. But you still can’t. Because the risk of re-injury is too high, there’s no way you wanna go back to the start. So you gotta breathe, be patient, do what you can. No matter what you do, there’s no rushing things. You can’t control it. If you are someone who’s used to taking things into their own hands and working hard to get what you want, getting to this point where all you can do is wait is quite the lesson.
This isn’t so much a lesson in the real sense of the word, but it’s eventually something you should experience. Not because you are injured, of course. But gratitude for the capable body you have. Maybe right now you are on crutches because of a broken leg. But it will heal. And you’ll be able to use, probably like before, sooner or later. But there are people who don’t have legs. There are people who have accidents and lose a limb. There are chronically sick people, permanently disabled. You are not one of them. Your injury is temporary. The truth is you have a strong body. So be grateful for your blessings. And be grateful for this reminder provided through your physical injury. It’s a beautiful feeling.
Seek the opportunities – finding new activities
If you are an active person, a physical injury will mean cutting back on activities you like. In my case I couldn’t do vinyasa yoga, I had to skip most workout classes (you have no idea how much you need your wrists until one is unavailable) and I couldn’t swim. In short, I had to give up every physical activity I love. But, because I suffer from back pain, especially when I don’t move enough I had to find a replacement. Walks are great, but they don’t really help with my back issues.
So I found my way to a style of yoga I usually only do when I’m beyond tired – yin yoga. Normally, if I do too much yin, I’ll end up feeling bored or feeling like I’m not doing enough. Now, armed with patience and gratitude, I decided to see the glass half full and look at it as a great opportunity to improve my flexibility. Let me say, if you are not used to yin yoga, this style will also greatly help with patience. It’s not easy to hold poses for 3-5 minutes, especially when you are not exactly flexible and are an active person by nature.
I have also found an awesome YouTube channel called Yoga Upload. It’s run by Maris, an amazing yoga guide and she has a lot of full yoga classes (think 50+ minutes) all hands-free! I didn’t think I could feel like I’m actually flowing without the classical vinyasas, but thanks to this amazing channel I found out I could.
Some physical injuries can be prevented. Some are just accidents. When they happen, accept them, breath, arm yourself with patience. Find gratitude for what you do have. Seek the opportunities. Maybe you discover a new type of workout. Maybe you have to go to physical therapy and you could make new friends there. Opportunities are everywhere. It’s up to you whether you look at the good things or at the bad things.
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