So, you hurt yourself.
Let me play this scenario for you and see if it reminds you of anyone: Zach joins a gym, yoga studio or CrossFit box and things are going really well. Zach starts to get into a routine, sheds a couple pounds and even made a friend. Zach could get used to this type of consistency! That is until one day Zach decides to try something wacky like deadlifting with terrible form and “blows his back out”. He tries to power through it but man, it hurts a lot and he doesn’t want to injure himself further so he shuts it down for a few days. A few days turn into a couple weeks and next thing you know, being active is a distant memory due to a single episode. Fast forward to whenever the topic of exercise arises and Zach defends his inactivity by hiding behind his hurt back. He claims he wishes he could play basketball/dance/exercise/ help you move (maybe not that last one!) but it’s just that aching back…
If you’ve ever been on either side of this conversation you’ll know this dialogue all too well. Maybe being a chiropractor means that I have a disproportionate amount of random people telling me about their physical ailments, maybe I have a sign on my forehead, I don’t know. For years, I’ve heard scores of people use a minor setback as the sole reasoning to justify their inactivity. I am always polite, encouraging and point them toward one of my preferred health care practitioners so that they can get back on that horse and move towards their goals. What I would LIKE to do is shake them like a polaroid picture (thank you Andre 3000) and smack some sense into them. Instead I shake their hand knowing full well that the majority of people would feel better if they got that weight off their chest but won’t actually do anything about it. Basically the same thing as Facebook activism right?
Does that sound harsh?
You can give up at the first sign of resistance but let’s not blame your back/knees/shoulders/new job/sniffles/papercut for it, ok? Ladies and gentlemen, it is ok to hurt from time to time! Our society has pushed this message that the apex of progression is comfort. Self-actualization? No thanks. Lazy boys, hot tubs and pedicures are all fine and dandy but they aren’t what make us great. They do not challenge us to grow, to learn, to strip down and become a better version of ourselves. You know what does? Pushing your limits, breaking down barriers, overcoming adversity and retraining your mind to dismiss its concept of your own ceiling.
We are built for play, pleasure and yes, work. Work leads to progress and progress leads to betterment. There will always be growing pains associated with your success. I want you to re-frame the experience to welcome the process as much as the results. Only when you view your STRUGGLES as a POSITIVE will you start to appreciate the journey towards actualization.
In all of this, the questions still remains:
What do you do if you are not hurt, but ACTUALLY injured?
1) Find help.
What is the nature of your problem and is there an industry full of people that fix it? If you don’t know what to do at the gym, hire a personal trainer. Can’t sleep at night? See a pulmonologist for a sleep study. Structural Shifts in your spine? You know who! Will it cost time and money? Of course it will. A sandwich isn’t free just because you don’t want to pay for it, no matter how hungry you are.
2) Get the correct diagnosis.
Don’t listen to your crazy Uncle when he says “I had the exact same rotator ‘cup’ tear and you don’t need fancy doctors telling you what to do, just take these leftover muscle relaxers and you’ll feel better soon”. Your uncle makes a great white bean chicken chili but he isn't a professional. Don’t mess around with an amateur diagnostician or you could be wasting a lot of time and money on fixing the wrong problem. Hint: the part that hurts isn’t always the source of your issues.
3) Do what they tell you to do.
Anyone who has spent some time in a kitchen knows why a recipe is important. Perhaps you learned that lesson when you went off page and tried to add a ton of cinnamon to spaghetti sauce (I actually did this, sorry Anne!). What about people that take 5 days of a 10 day Z pack (antibiotics)? They feel a little bit better and then decide they know better than their prescribing physician and what happens? The infection comes back with a vengeance. If you are paying these people for their expert advice, do yourself a favor and follow it. It is for YOUR benefit.
4) Focus on everything else.
For those of you who know me, odds are you’ve seen me injured. A quick glossary includes both hamstrings, 2x MCL tear, UCL tear in left elbow, 2 carpals broken, multiple shoulder separations, left shoulder labral tears, bilateral shoulder dislocations in addition to countless broken noses, rolled ankles, broken fingers or teeth kicked in. You know what I did during each and every one of those intensely frustrating rehab periods? I made sure that every other injury, tweak, deficit and weakness was in peak condition so that I could hit the ground running when the injury had run its course. Don’t sit on your hands and wait for the magical structural correction fairy to wave their healing wand over you just because you waited 6-8 weeks before returning to activity.
Healing is NOT a passive process. If you want something, go out and get it. If you don’t want it, your actions will reflect exactly that. We are what we repeatedly do.
“Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.”- Aristotle.
This isn’t meant to be diminutive but rather a dose of reality. I could sit behind this desk and tell you that all
the answers you seek are already inside you (I’m getting sick of that one) but if we are being honest, sometimes you need a kick in the pants and a shot in the arm to take action. I hope you are well into your New Year’s resolutions and they are going perfectly. If not, give me a call and I’ll point you in the right direction. Fluff not included.
CREATED BY: DAN VILLARREAL