Lately being injured seems to be my favorite pastime. Not to say that I enjoy it by any means but rather that it’s been happening more than I ever thought it would. The hard part is not being able to do what you want when you want and often you don’t realize how much you took for granted being able to do certain work outs or yoga poses or even just being able to walk around the house without pain. Of course I would never say that I want to be injured, however, I am actually grateful for the way my injuries have played out. Lets just say I’m making the best of it and learning from it.
Here are five things I learned from being injured:
1.Your body isn’t exempt
My first big injury happened three weeks from my first marathon. I had started lifting awhile before that and bumped my knee in the weight room. The next day I had a small bruise on my knee that didn’t seem to hurt much so I went out for my scheduled 10 miles. The day after that I noticed a dull ache in my knee but ignored it ran again anyway (I was young back then). Eventually it got so bad that I could hardly walk up the stairs. Needless to say I didn’t run that marathon.
When I started getting serious about running I started looking at different training guides but ended up tossing them all out the window because ‘easy days’ didn’t need to happen, because my body was somehow different and could defy the laws of human biology. Of course I will now be the first to tell you that everyone’s body is different and you should train in the way that is right for you but when it boils down to the basics remember that your body is not exempt from the basics of life. If you push it will shove back. Only I learned that the hard way.
2. Listen to your body- it’s usually right
It doesn’t matter what the person next to you is doing, what the instructor says, what your best friend’s mile times are- if you don’t listen to your body you’ll probably wind up hurt. People like to go by ‘no pain, no gain’ and really that’s just silly. When things are painful that’s usually a sign that you’ve gone to far and need to back off. If you tune into your body and truly listen to what it needs I guarantee you’ll get alot better results and feel alot better than if you push through pain. I used to mentally struggle with modifying or slowing down when I was sore or hurting because I worried what other people would think and for whatever reason thought it made me less or a runner/yogi. I became frustrated when an injury forced me to tone things down or skip a work out because for whatever reason I thought I should just be able to go out all the time no matter what. Turns out it doesn’t work like that and these last years I’ve gotten more out of listening to my body and giving it what it needed than I did from pushing through soreness and pain. Be kind to your body and it will be kind to you.
3. Rest is almost more important than your work outs
I can’t stress this enough. Taking time off of any sort of fitness routine is ridiculously hard. Especially when that rest time happens when you feel it shouldn’t. For the longest time I struggled with taking extended periods of time off for injuries. Honestly, I still struggle with this but find peace of mind in knowing that it’s for the best. There’s no sense in pushing your body when it’s not ready to be pushed. Most of the time pushing when your hurt or ridiculously sore will just make matters worse. It’s better to take a day off than be injured for years to come.
4. Never judge anyone based on what they can or cannot do
I used to get really hung up on this when I was younger. It wasn’t really so much a competitive thing but more that I somehow thought I was elite and above the standard. Over the years I learned that you can never judge the person next to you simply because you have no idea what they’re feeling, what they’ve been through, or how they got where they are. Or course someone who has only been practicing yoga for a year may not be able to take the same poses as someone who has been practicing for 8 years. It would be really silly to expect a brand new yogi to perfectly chaturanga during their first class. More importantly, just because someone has been practicing for a long time doesn’t mean they need to go all out every practice. Never judge the person next to you (and never judge yourself) for doing something differently because chances are there’s probably a good reason that they’re modifying or amplifying.
5. Never let goals or ability define your worth
I used to think that I had to run a marathon to be a ‘real runner’ and be able to do the most ridiculous poses to be a ‘real yoga teacher’. In the past I used to judge people based on this- and thought that they did the same to me. Having all that taken from me, being forced to modify my practice, shorten my runs, slow my pace- forced me to take a step back and get out of my head. It showed me that running x amount of miles at x pace everyday doesn’t make you a runner. In the same way holding a crazy pose or being able to do this or that in yoga doesn’t make you any better or worse than the person next to you.
I used to get self conscious about modifying my yoga practice in front of people because I had it in my head that I was supposed to be this amazing yoga teacher and worried people wouldn’t respect me if I didn’t go all out every practice. The thing is if people are going to judge you based on whether or not you ran a 5k at a certain pace, completed a marathon without walking, or did a certain pose during your practice, let them judge, because what they think is none of your business and honestly those aren’t the kind of fitness people you want to be hanging out with anyway. Doing this or that doesn’t make you any more or less of a person and it certainly does not define your worth. Do what makes you happy not what makes others think your good at something.
As a bonus, being injured has also taught me about what other people go through with injuries and how to help people heal and prevent injuries in their own fitness life. Being injured is never fun and I don’t recommend it, but in the event you do find yourself injured remember there’s alot you can take away from it. When I was on the Cross Country team my coach imparted these words of wisdom, “treat each run like it’s the last you’ll ever have.” Don’t take your health for granted- you’ll only kick yourself for it when you don’t have it. Remember that abilities don’t define worth- only you know what’s going on with your body and it’s up to you to act accordingly and take care of yourself.