I hurt my back yesterday.
For anyone who knows me this should come as no surprise. It happens. Less now than it used to, but every few years...BLAM!
I found myself gasping for breath this morning, desperately holding onto the side of the bed while I tried to get pants on through the pain. It hurt to bend over. It hurt to lift a leg. It hurt twice as much to bend over AND lift a leg. I started my day wondering how I'm ever going to get through the next 24 hours of driving, treatments and (worst of all) loading luggage into the team van. I was so frustrated and scared I wanted to cry.
When this used to happen more often, I could only explain back pain to my wife like this; it's as though only 50% of me gets to be present in life. The other half of me is constantly monitoring how my back is feeling; afraid that my next move will set off more pain. If my back is hurting then I'm focusing on it. If my back isn't hurting then I'm worrying about what movement will set it off next. In short, I am only able to be minimally involved in the conversations and events around me, because half of my focus is on my back.
But I'm trying my best not be mad. I'm trying to focus on the lesson to be learnt in the injury.
Because it's there.
As much as I hate to admit it, I've been burning the candle at both ends. I've been working a training camp with Speed Skate Canada for the past two weeks, which means lots of time treating others, lots of time driving, and lots of time working out while the athletes are training on ice.
If you notice, I didn't really say "lots of time recovering"...and that's on me. It's my decision whether I choose to stay home and stretch instead of doing a 25km trail run at altitude, but I'll be honest, I love running more. It's my decision whether I roll out for an hour when the athletes are doing their jump program (think of this as 2hrs of leg exercises that crush you and you're not far off), but I'd rather be in there with them, because who else gets to train alongside Olympic medallists and world record holders as a perk of their job? And I could take extra time to do a yoga session every now and then, but...you know...what's on Netflix?
In short, this injury is a call to action for me. Or to be more precise, a call to inaction. To slow down, and take care of my body. To deal with the increasing demands that I'm placing on it. I just spent 2 1/2 hours rolling and stretching and low and behold, my back feels better (my left hip to be more precise...). Funny how that works, isn't it?
If you're reading this and you've been putting off the stretches you KNOW you probably should be doing, or the yoga class you think you should probably go to, go do them now. Don't wait for pain to show up to spur you into action. Because an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of treatment.
Trust me on this.