Growth in Adversity: Injury as a blessing
I knew I’d really done it this time.
I’d finally hurt myself in an awful way. Over 34 years of lifting and training and I finally did it. I hurt myself in a way that I knew wouldn’t be easy to fix.
You see, I had been working around a niggling injury for a few years. This weird right hip and lower right back issue. I had been working around it, ignoring it, turning a blind eye to it. So far I had been able to manage it. I’m invincible, right?
I spent a good part of 5 or 6 years not training. At least, not proper training. I had trained a few weeks here and there sporadically, but nothing solid or properly planned. I had spent the half-decade on planes, trains, and automobiles.
When you start traveling non-stop for work, no one tells you how badly it wrecks your body. I can assure you that there’s nothing glamorous about living out of a suitcase and being away from home 6 months of the year. It’s tiring, both mentally and physically. It drains your soul. It wrecks your health and physique. I never had back problems until I started traveling.
But hey, that’s the life I fell into.
So, back to the injury.
I was doing double-unders at the end of a workout, lost focus, and came down on my right foot, instead of both feet. Suddenly I felt a “ZAP!” Zeus had paid a visit and kicked me with a lightening foot, directly into my right hip.
I hobbled in and Zoe looked at me and said, “Oh shit, did you hurt yourself?”
“No, it’s fine. Nothing I can’t walk off.”
I was wrong. Very, very wrong.
Later that night I couldn’t stand up straight. I got into bed and couldn’t roll over. I was in excruciating pain; the worst pain I had ever experienced.
Zoe was, obviously, very concerned. I was joking and laughing. I mean, what’s the benefit of being upset about it? Would being upset about it provide any assistance? Probably not, so laughter and acceptance was the best option. It was my fault for ignoring it for so long.
Oh crap, I need to pee.
Let’s see if I can crawl to the toilet.
I slink off the bed, in blinding pain. I’m trying not to let Zoe see it. I’m holding back tears.
I crawl about 1 meter and realize I won’t be able to crawl the other 3, get myself on the toilet, and crawl back to the bed. I succumb to the fact that I’ll have to pee in a jug all night.
My injury cost us thousands of dollars to get fixed. Then after it was fixed, I did it again during Corona. Not as bad, but I screwed it up in a different way that was harder to fix. That was another expensive lesson, again costing us thousands. *facepalm*
Now, why am I telling you this story? Is there a lesson here?
Absolutely. There’s a lesson in everything, as long as you look for it.
Dr Stuart McGill and Brian Carroll wrote a book called, “The Gift of Injury,” that talks about Brian’s back issues and how they fixed it so that he could keep competing.
I decided to view my injury as a gift. Yes, it was painful. Yes, it sucked. But, I could either chalk this up as a mistake, or I could use it as a learning experience to help others with back pain. I chose the latter.
When we’re faced with a problem, with adversity, it’s our choice how we handle and view it. You can waste the opportunity, or you can use it as adversarial growth.
An early mentor of mine told me, “Life is a big fucking mess. What matters is how you clean it up.”
So into the books I went. McGill’s work, McKenzie, Janda, endless questions to my personal physio, Michael Ridgway. I’ve learned more about the lower back and hips in the past 7 months than I’ve learned in 2 decades.
Why? Because I was forced to, so I could help myself.
Now I have a much better grasp on how to help others, and how to teach others how to do it.
When you’re faced with an obstacle, instead of being discouraged, look for the opportunity within it. Look for the lesson. Adversity isn’t a bad thing, it’s a gift. Embrace it.
Here’s a Muscle Nerds “Backloaded Structural Balance” lower body workout that I’ve found works great for back pain from anterior pelvic rotation and length-tension discrepancies.
A1. Couch Stretch
3 x 60 sec/leg N/A 60
A2. Bulgarian Split Squat
3 x 6-8 3310 60
B1. Isometric Polish Good Morning
3 x 8-10 3-4 sec iso hold 60
B2. TRX Bent Knee Hip Extension
3 x 8-10 1013 60
C1. Split Squat Stretch
3 x 60 sec/leg N/A 60
C2. Oblique Crunch
3 x 8-10 2021 60
D. Seated Good Morning
3 x 6 @12RM 2310 120