Injury real talk: THEY SUCK!!
Over the past few months, I’ve got myself into a few sticky situations that have resulted in a string of injuries. While I focus on form over speed, weight or reps, sometimes accidents happen… and 3 weeks ago, I injured my lower back during a weights session.
This incident happened on the backend of another injury, in which I ended up taking a few weeks off from exercise. I had so much pent up energy, and the gym was just calling my name… who was I to say no?! I started slowly, but not slowly enough. I wasn’t willing to accept that my body wasn’t in the same condition it had been, and that was really hard for me. So I pushed myself, and it was great, I had an amazing workout, and man did that feel exhilarating after so much time off! SURELY this successful session back in the gym meant I was recovered, right?! I figured that I’d had enough rest on my time off, and decided to skip a rest day… bad call.
As I write this, I am cringing so hard, yelling at myself for being so ridiculous!
So I threw out my lower back on a kettle bell swing, as it was already unstable and compromised from my heavy session the day before. It was painful but I could still walk, and although I didn’t want to leave my workout unfinished, I decided to walk home. That walk soon turned into a hobble, and the hobble soon turned into agony. As embarrassing as it is to admit it, my flatmate had to help me to get dressed, to walk to the bathroom, and to get in and out of bed.
At first I thought this was funny: a 21 year old girl hurting her back, hobbling around her flat with a makeshift cane like a ninety year old woman, loopy on muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories and mind numbing painkillers. I laughed at the thought of what Nat might say, as she always tells me that she loves ‘battle wounds’ and that bruises from training tell a story of how hard we work and how much our bodies can do.
But this was different. I realised, after not being able to stand up straight for the second day in row, that this is not funny. This isn’t a badass battle wound to embrace: this is not a black eye from a rogue punch in MMA training, blistered toes after completing a half marathon, or bruised shins from long hours of striking practice. This affects my daily life. I can go about my business with my battle wounds, and wear them proudly. But injuring my back, like tearing a muscle or breaking a bone, is serious, and means I have to change the way in which I live my life to accommodate for my incapable body. This is absolutely not funny.
So, my doctor told me what I already knew: no weight training for 4 to 6 weeks. FOUR WEEKS. Now for some that may not be a big deal, in fact my friends have told me to embrace it, like a holiday. To get to know Netflix, bake, read more and relax. While all that sounds great, I started to loose it after about a week and a half without the gym. I was loving being outside on long walks, but I felt like I was doing so much better! I wasn’t in pain, I could bend down and even jog without a problem. I convinced myself, after 2 weeks, that I had recovered. I knew I wasn’t ready to get back to my normal routine, or add in weights, but surely a light body weight exercise in the gym couldn’t do any harm, right…?
Yes and no. While I’m not back at square one, as soon as I started back in the gym I realised that my body wasn’t ready yet. And although I stopped short of re-injury, I didn’t do my body any favours in the process. I thought I had done everything right, spending countless hours online searching the best exercises and stretches for lower back injury rehabilitation… but the internet doesn’t know my body, it doesn’t understand my injury. The reality is that I need to accept that no amount of research, muscle tape, supplements or good intentions can heal my back. But rather I need to give it time, which isn’t something that comes easily to me.
While I can accept, and embrace, the fact that I will probably never be the girl with bruise-free skin, I would like to be the girl without injuries that prevent me from doing what I love. For that reason, I am vowing to take the time to let my body recover, and will be working with a trainer to strengthen my back when the time is right. For now, I will take my friends advice (although I know it won’t be easy for me to resist the natural gravitational pull of the gym), and relax for a few weeks, enjoying long walks in the fresh spring air.