About a year ago, I noticed I was having pain in my left wrist. It startled me quite a bit, as I had been intensively studying yoga and working daily on arm balances. At this point, I was practicing every day, so when I had to put the brakes on suddenly and stay off my mat for an entire week, I was pretty unhappy.
The injury, however minor it was, scared me a great deal.
I’ve been pretty lucky. I had never broken a bone as a kid – I’d only ever suffered a fracture in my left pinky toe when a mountain bike rolled over my foot – nor had I ever had invasive surgery of any sort. Not knowing the extent of the sprain, I remember lamenting online that the damage was permanent. An acquaintance, L., gave me a much needed (digital) slap in the face and reminded me that it was likely temporary. Don’t be silly, he said, you’ll get back up soon enough.
The subsequent week, another friend share a Gold Medal Bodies video on wrist care. I’ve followed GMB for a while and knowing that they take body weight movement pretty seriously, began following the program 4-5 times a week. I did this for several months and the pain eventually dissipate. I also took greater care when approaching arm balances by evenly distributing the weight through the palms; I noticed that my left hand would curl and this may have been putting excessive pressure on the external part of the wrist.
Since then, I’ve had no major wrist issues; the mobility and strength are, in fact, better than ever. I’ve never really had wrist issues before; I played badminton – a sport that requires a lot of flexibility and dexterity in the wrist – for a number of years and also was trained on the piano for more than a decade.
About two weeks ago, I experienced another setback.
Through my lifting sessions at the gym, a few things came up. On Tuesday, my right knee became sensitive and the tissue just about my left patella was swelling a little. When I was coming out of my squat, I noticed my knees were buckling. Then I noticed that my right hip was tightening up quite a lot; in my back squats, I was leaning into the left side to avoid the tightness in the right hip.
J. recommended that I wear a compressive bandage on the knee for a couple of days. I also laid off lifting the following scheduled gym day. These setbacks forced to start the Focused Flexibility program – which I’d been putting off – that I purchased from Gold Medal Bodies back in December 2015. Last Sunday, I started the first of a 2-week program to address the tight hips. I decided to err on the side of caution and transitioned to box squats on Tuesday – at max weight – and continued my physio every evening. Consistency is key to rehabilitation and recovery.
Last night, I felt that I was strong enough to go back to deep squats. I did my physio just prior, followed my usual warm-up set with full depth and walked to the rack with confidence. I stayed at my max weight – 95 lbs beltess – and had no issues pumping out 5×95 lbs, for the first time ever. I recall struggling at this set back in December 2015 and maxing out at 3 reps. It felt good and all my reps were solid. I’d officially conquered 95 lbs! And it was a relief that I was able to recover … and still progress safely forward!
It’s funny about injuries. It knocks you down and you just have to stop and take a step back. It forces you to be humble. It makes you pause, often unexpectedly, when things are going well in life. It keeps your ego in check. And if I’ve learned anything, being faced with a problem is an opportunity to learn from it.*
Living up north for the past 4.5 years, I am probably in the top tenth percentile for health. I live in a place where drug abuse, alcohol abuse is rampant.** The rate of diabetes is high and I know at least person, who has had to consider amputating a foot because of his condition. Just watching people walk, you can see a lot of imbalances in the hip, core, back and legs. Obesity is a big issue in the north, due to poor diets, and many adults with poor gait due to the excessive weight. I see so many people that cannot walk with their torso upright with their core engaged.
As I have previously mentioned, I know I come from privilege as a cis-gendered, mobile, university-educated person who does not have physical disabilities. And I still take my body for granted on a day to day basis. Many of us do.
A lot of us assume good mobility just happens. We forget that our health is a culmination of many things, including good habits, life choices and a splash of luck. The product doesn’t happen if you don’t have the right ingredients. And it’s not until you lose it, do you realize how precious your mobility, flexibility and strength is.
With that, I am thankful for the learning experience. This morning, I woke up and my muscles were sore, but my knee and my hips still felt fine.
But tomorrow might be different. The issues could still come back.
In three days? Next month? A few years from now?
I know that my body is not invincible and I have to continue to be careful with it. I have to treat it with respect and make sure it’s a well-oiled machine that will run as long as it can. It’s such an amazing piece of work and the best playground I could ever ask for. As long as I can, I will enjoy the health that I have. And you should too.
*I know this was a tiny setback and my recovery was only about a week, but reflecting on this will help me overcome any future hurtles when they are bigger and a bit more anxiety inducing.
**This is not just of adults, but even of teenagers sadly.