Last week I discussed how I began the process of coming back from a foot injury. This week, I’ll share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. Here we go…
- Necessity is the mother of innovation. Every great idea fills a void. I knew I had to start getting creative with how I moved when getting on the floor wasn’t an option.
- The power of observation! As teachers, we’re good at cueing and doing, but our observation always needs to be sharpened. I also found pure joy in being a class I couldn’t take but able to be the observer and learn so much by watching.
- Your body is the greatest teacher; everyone else is just guiding you to the gate. I found it so necessary to move and figure out the things that were working for my body and not working. The Roll Model Therapy Balls were also an important component of the letting my PT where I had issues that affected my initial injury. A problem in my big toe found relief and release in my low back. Injury means more exploration, not less. Move in ways that are not painful and in ways that are consistent with things that you are doing with your PT.
- Empathy helps you as a teacher to understand students of all levels and injury. Different points of view give more scope and ability to help populations that may have been invisible before. Injury recovery is very small steps. Being able to do simple things like get up and down off the floor should be treated like the important milestones they are.
- Step outside of your movement box. I’ve found progression in so many places like yoga, TRX, Pilates, strength training, walking/hiking, corrective exercise, and probably other modalities that I haven’t even tried yet. Not only does it help inform my teaching, it again helps to speak to different populations and add new perspective to current movement.
- Touch! Rolling my foot wasn’t really an option as it was so inflamed. I had to being with (you guessed it) touch. Less is sometimes more. Then, I began to slowly progress into rolling my feet while sitting.
- This is an opportunity to learn more about your anatomy. Get a book! Go online! It was really interesting to look up the muscles (and their friends) where I was in pain and see where they originate and insert into in my skeletal map. But it was also interesting to move and feel the relationships between the injured area and the rest of my body. Sometimes, it’s not about where you’re injured but somewhere else that wasn’t fully functional. My big toe eventually was able to point but that wasn’t the end of the story. I’ve had some relapses but through #5 above, I’ve come to figure that spinal movement is my one of my blind spots. Even a year out, I’m still finding ways to improve my foot.
- Seek outside help that includes mental health services. Sometimes, injuries are perfect time to clean not just your movement “house” but mental “clutter” that prevents your best movement and awareness thereof.
Although I wish you all to remain healthy and mobile, I hope that these tips are useful to anyone who ends up recovering from injury.
So much good stuff here!!! Getting insight from injury is such a powerful message and one that resonates with me deeply. Its such an important time in our society to approach our issues both physically, emotionally, and mentally in this way. Seeking out help externally but also really taking a look internally at how we are handling it and what lessons can be learned so that progress can be made. Thank you for your keen insight.
It sounds like you learned a lot of great lessons from your injury and took it as an opportunity not as misfortune. You are so positive and this is an inspiring approach on how to recover from injury with inquiry!
This post (along with Part 1) really resonated with me! I hurt my low back long ago and went to see several different professionals from different disciplines. They all treated my low back pain by treating the low back only. It wasn’t until years later that a rather insightful athletic therapist treated my glutes and hamstrings, knees and ankles etc. That knowledge that pain can be felt somewhere but not be the source was eye opening! Coupled with the YTU balls and the completion of my Level 1 course, I feel I have the tools necessary to self treat any incoming aches and pains (along with my GP and AT).
I’ve also learned (mostly through ankle injury and re-injury) that it’s not just about the ankle but other areas both up and downstream. Your article hits on the value of exploring what works for you and listening to the feedback you get when one type of treatment may be too much for you.
Step 5 struck a cord. I have several injuries I’m working through but my shoulder is the main pain. Before surgery I was petrified to move out of my movement box. So much so that my autonomic system tried to shut me down whenever I was in shoulder flexion. I had to train my brain that I would not get hurt if I moved. I still have limitations but overall have improved greatly.
I’m in total agreement with step 5. There are many movement modalities that are worth checking into to help us learn from and treat chronic pain. Thanks for the great read!
Learning and Trying, two of my new keys words. Great article.
It’s crazy how our feet drive our lives, and how it is difficult but so important to re-learn to move with it. We have to seize it as a new opportunity to learn about your body and take the time for recovery!
The power of observation, so many injuries results because we don’t be awaken about our daily activities
To do movements consciently, it’s so important!
Thank you for the excellent article and remind me to move consciently
“Injury means more exploration not less” YES! I treat every new injury as an opportunity to learn more about my body – it’s so easy to take something like your toes for granted, until they start causing you pain and you realize how much they have been doing for you all along.
I also love what you said about celebrating milestones- I still remember fondly the time I was able to shave my armpit after rotator cuff surgery! ?
Great article Amalea! Injuries like these, as tough as they are, can be our greatest teachers I believe. All these points are so valuable. I think the mental aspect and challenge is a common overlooked one but so important. In Chinese medicine we are taught to always treat the “Shen”, or spirit in chronic injury. I know anyone who has been through something like this can agree, and celebrating those improvements, big or small goes such a long way in outlook. Thank You!!
Thank you for these tips, Amalea. The injuries and pain I’ve experienced have been some of my most valuable teachers. They have motivated me to explore my own body, research my anatomy and physiology and try out new movement practices. Injuries are what inspired my path toward a profession in Massage Therapy and Yoga Instruction. They deepen my empathy and knowledge of how to better serve my clients and students. As frustrating as injuries and chronic pain can be, they make me better at what I do and so I embrace them as a necessary part of the process!
There is little wonder that you achieved recovery. The breadth of your approaches could serve as a toolbox for anyone coming back from an injury.
I believe, the best teacher is not the one who teaches what is right but the one who helps you understand what is right for you and helps you to achieve it .
We are the best students of our body , we just need somebody to notice our blind spots and address our limitations .
I think this blog is great. The idea that we all need to be learning about our bodies and how they work is becoming a massive shortcoming, not only in the fitness industry but all over our society. Our internal health and wellness is such an important part of our lives but is overlooked by such a large number of the population that could seriously benefit from a little education.