This article is for those who have been told that you need to stop running because running is bad for your knees, and for those of you that have been told that you need to take it easy because your favorite sport is too “high impact”, and for those of you who have been told that your hip pain is due to old age. Consider for a moment that maybe your ailments are not due to wear and tear, or old age. Use the mindset check assignment at the end of this article to begin to explore new ways of thinking that empower healing and freedom within your body.
My Downward Spiral
From ages 19 to 30 I was riddled with injuries, pain, and degenerative joints. My downward spiral in health started with a torn ACL and meniscus in my right knee during a lacrosse game at the age of 19. The pain and injuries that ensued included chronic shoulder pain and tendinitis in both shoulders, a labral tear in my left hip, and lower back pain. I saw and suffered from it all. I blamed my injuries on wear and tear from high impact running, squatting with heavy barbells on my back, hours and hours on the elliptical and treadmill, and countless hours spent paddling on my surfboard and swimming.
I sought the best medical care and did everything I was told including “taking it easy.” The experts validated my belief that wear and tear had taken its toll on my body by telling me that knees, hips, and shoulders are not meant to be pounded on consistently. Despite the rest and reprieve I took from high impact activities, by the time I was 30, my health and fitness had dwindled and I was not able to do any of my favorite activities without pain or limitation. I was laden with feelings of guilt and remorse for the damage I had permanently done to my body and I was convinced that I had ruined my body from high impact activity…or so I thought.
Today, at the age of 34, I have a totally different mindset and a totally different body. My knees, hips, back, and shoulders are pain free. I perform high-impact activities five to six days per week such as weight lifting, running hills and long distances, and surfing. I am injury free and in the best shape of my life.
Eight years after being in a wheelchair for debilitating hip pain I move pain-free. [Photo courtesy of Maryann Berry]
Movement as Medicine
This 180 degree shift with my body started with a 180 degree shift in my mindset. I went from thinking that I had ruined my body from high impact activities to realizing that there is actually nothing wrong with these activities, and in fact, the human body is supposed to be able to move and perform at a high level regardless of age. I also learned that my chronic ailments were simply symptoms of joint misalignments and muscular imbalances, which I worked on correcting by practicing daily exercises. I have taken daily actions since 2009 to fix and heal my own body, I never skip a day of doing my posture exercises. This process has not been a passive or a fast one by any means!
I learned that the human body has the ability to heal itself, if given the chance, and I am living, breathing proof that this is possible. Today, I believe that we don’t ruin our bodies by moving, instead we ruin our bodies by not moving.
Movement is my “healthcare plan” for remaining pain and injury free. As I get older, my body continues to get younger. My range of motion and ability to function the way the human body was designed to move without limitation and with total freedom continues to expand.
Shift Your Perspective
Now for a quick mindset check assignment:
If you are suffering from chronic pain and injuries, take a moment to write down the thoughts that you tell yourself consistently every day. Ask yourself the questions: Are these thoughts empowering? Do these thoughts honor my body’s ability to heal itself the way my body is supposed to heal itself? Next, write down alternative thoughts and mindsets you could adopt that could lead to healing and getting the most benefit from the healing modalities that are available to you.
We all have the same innate abilities within ourselves to heal, and the mind is the most powerful vehicle for facilitating this process of healing within ourselves.
Ultimately, there is no substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is imperative that you seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before undertaking a new health care regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read.
You may be down, but you’re not out:
Headline photo courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.