A lot of athletes or general fitness fans know the experience of being hit with an injury or illness that stops them from doing what they love. Sometimes it can be a quick recovery, and sometimes it can set you back months and the lack of exercise or sport in your life is as emotionally debilitating as the injury is physically.
If you’re anything like me, injury prone and not-so-cautious, you’ll be well acquainted with these setbacks.
I haven’t written much lately about exercise or fitness, due to one of those longer setback periods. When you can’t do what you love (in this case, lift heavy things and work my body hard), it’s hard to talk/write about it. Firstly because if I’m telling people about exercise, I want to be practicing what I’m preaching. Secondly because it just makes you want to jump back into it, knowing that you can’t.
For the past four and a half years I’ve been dealing with some (suspected) neuromuscular issues… no one has been able to help me yet because no one seems to know what the official problem is. It mostly effects the strength and coordination of my hands, wrists, arms and shoulders, but it’s also affected other areas like the local muscular endurance of my quads and core muscles. In short, it’s a whole messy thing that gets worse when I lift weights or perform vigorous exercise (my favourite type of exercise!)
Okay, have I been listening to The Scientist by Coldplay since thinking up this blog title? Yes. But this isn’t a sob story. I wanted to detail the primary symptoms for the sake of understanding and don’t want to shy away from the frustrations that being a personal trainer who can’t exercise properly brings up, but the point of this blog post isn’t a pity party.
Lately I’ve been trying to push through the pain/weakness and find creative ways around the problem to try and get back into a regular fitness routine. It’s been great to get back into the gym, but obviously also exhausting and frustrating and a whole number of other feelings.
I’ve had to drop my load way back, and can’t lift as heavy as I’m able to because of the premature local muscular fatigue. It’s painful doing beginners’ exercises when I know what I used to be able to do, and what I should be able to do now. It sucks that I’m getting puffed out after some low-weighted goblet squats. It’s like I didn’t even know I was playing a game of snakes and ladders, then when I just started seeing some great progress with my strength, I got dropped all the way back down to the start.
The other day I realized that I should be writing about this experience – the frustrations, the achievements, the mistakes I’ll probably make and the lessons I’ll hopefully learn from them. I’m writing mostly for my own sake – because I often process and reflect on things better when writing them down. But I also figured, if anyone else out there can learn, or draw comfort or humour from my experiences, then why not share them on the interwebs! So that’s probably going to be most of my content for the next few days/weeks.
Injuries and setbacks suck, but if you make the most of them, they can make us wiser and stronger for having gone through them. Especially as trainers and coaches, they can make us smarter, more resilient, more empathetic, and more creative with our prescription. You just can’t let them beat you.