How pain and injuries are opportunities for us to listen

Are you in denial?

We have probably all been in this place – pain from a part of our body that we didn’t expect, and didn’t ask for. It’s consistent, however it doesn’t seem to be holding up my training, so I’ll carry on running through it for a couple of weeks, and see how it goes. Then a couple of months later, and that pain is still there…it may have even got worse, at this stage it’s hard to tell.
Next thing we know it’s been a while and there’s no change – we probably all know runners that are still in this place after several months, maybe even years.
It’s likely that in this situation, we are in denial. The subject of one of our recent positive running stories, Tayte Pollmann, recently wrote a feature for the American Trail Running Association on this subject – My life in a boot – Are you in denial about an injury? Tayte had been running for nearly 9 months with mild to moderate pain from his left achilles, “that caused a limp, compensation issues, swelling, and also hindered my speedwork, uphill workouts and racing. It was not until August 2 that I discovered the root cause of my symptoms: a calcaneal stress fracture.” He completed three major races in that time frame, with his goals focused on each one, he didn’t want to take time off from training. Once he had an MRI that showed the root cause of the pain he had been experiencing, he immediately stopped running and took several weeks off. He is now back to running again.
One of the learning opportunities that Tayte took away from this experience is that it is so important to listen to any pain that we experience, and to not allow yourself to become distracted by training or racing goals when you evaluate your injuries. “Denying the injury doesn’t heal you any faster!”
Here are four tips to help listen to your body, and to not get stuck in denial about an injury:

Get advice – you may think you know what’s going on with that pain….however, often the cause is rooted in something remote from where you feel it. I once struggled with a calf issue for several months, trying every stretch I could find, with no effect. I eventually bit the bullet, went to see a PT, who re-aligned my hips on the first visit, and had me back running the next day. Two weeks later I was back on full song again.
Learn to listen – take some time to scan up and down your body, really check in with what is happening. It’s vitally important to do this without any distractions – allowing our goals to determine what happens to our health is not a sustainable position.
Be honest – when we are honest with ourselves we need to be objective, and to be able to see the reality of whatever our situation is. Often when we’re in denial we are not being honest with ourselves. Committing to be being honest takes that possibility away.
Love yourself – you know the old saying, if you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself. Listen to what you are saying to yourself – is this the advice you would give to someone that you care about? Make sure you hold yourself to high ideals, it could save you a lot of pain, and an extended injury life.

Footnote – I have been experiencing sciatic pain down my left leg through the summer that I kept denying was a real issue – I did get some PT treatment, acupuncture, and chiro adjustments. They provided some short term relief, however the pain returned with a vengeance, and  I ended up crawling to see my doctor, who arranged an MRI, and then a consult with a neuro / spine specialist. It turned out that I had a bulging disc that was impacting the sciatic nerve on my left leg – six weeks ago I had a surgery to remove a part of the disc – the surgery is expected to be 100% successful.
I have been using positive imagery sessions every day pre and post surgery to help facilitate healing and enable me to return to running. This week, 6 weeks after surgery, I have started back with a walk / run regimen – it feels fantastic to be back!

One of the services our positive running coaches can provide is a personal healing session to help you heal from an injury or fracture.  We work with you to create a script that fits your situation, and make it personalized for you. Contact us to find out more.