Past Injuries. Embarrassment or Point of Triumph?

Have you had many injuries, aches or pains?

Maybe you were in a car wreck and your neck was never right again? Maybe your knee bugs you and you had to give up running? Maybe you had a couple kids and you feel like your body has given up? I hope this post will give you some hope because if I could overcome all these issues, I know you can too!!! I know because it's not just me I've been fixing. I fix patients too. I fix people like you. So, if you take away one thing from this post, it's that your body is capable of more than you can ever imagine. You just need to give it the right kind of care and a lot of commitment.

I've learned many personal first-hand lessons about injury over the last 2 decades. The following 3 things have held true through each and every injury and I'll venture to guess they will hold true for you as well.
Very few things are "unfixable" and most are preventable, but as the saying goes, hindsight is 20-20.

The length of time it takes to get to 100% is a reflection of:

#1. Your system as a whole (i.e. muscle balance, strength, posture, nutrition, sleep, etc.) The more unbalanced the body is as a whole, the harder individual issues are to fix. (In shape doesn't necessarily mean balanced. In shape people can be in a lot of pain.)

#2. The quality of help you're getting to fix it. You need the right advice. That's a no-brainer but can sometimes be frustrating and really hard to find.

#3. The consistent mental and physical effort you're bringing to the table each and every day. It can be a long road but so worth it not to give up! It's your quality of life we're talking about here.

Recently I was invited to be on this podcast, but before they would consider me they wanted to know what injuries I'd overcome. They felt that the best wellness people were the ones that had overcome injuries personally.
After writing out the list, I was so embarrassed. How could I have possibly had THAT many injuries?! It was kind of horrifying.
pelvic floor exercises
Water can feel a little like concrete at high speeds.
I've done a lot of sports and I've done them very aggressively. Run a marathon, triathlons, kiteboarded, wakeboarded, rock climbed, etc. Some things are completely off the table now in my old age of 36 (like flips behind a boat), but in some ways, I feel like I'm just coming into my body and my true strength potential, especially for climbing. It's taken over a decade of being a PT but each year I pull back layers and understand a little more about how the body truly works. I have huge goals for hitting 40, not just about the kind of shape I want to be in but the things I want to accomplish in my sports. Unstoppable by 40? Yes, please!

Back to aches and pain (still embarrassed)... Looking at the list, 3/4 were preventable. I just didn't know any better at the time. They happened before PT school while playing a college sport or after PT school but before I'd gained enough knowledge and experience to be good at my job. Then some were just accidents that were not preventable. I would have needed magical powers to be in a different place at a different time. (I'm sure you can relate. Accidents happen.)

So, at first, I didn't want to share the list with anyone. I wanted to hide it under a rock. But then, I thought, this list could encourage someone. Because I'm 100% PAIN-FREE!!! My body feels strong and amazing.

A few of the injuries I need to keep up with some maintenance PT for, like the bone spur in my ankle and neck stability work, but most of it is nothing more than a memory and I'm not one iota concerned about it coming back.
In a full transparency fashion... here you go! From the neck down.
  • TMJ Pain - 100% Preventable (Muscle alignment in the trunk, neck and posture)
  • Carpel Tunnel - 100% Preventable (sport overuse and computer posture)
  • CMC Joint Pain - 100% Preventable (manual therapy, poor body positioning)
  • Torn ligament in my wrist - Climbing Accident
  • Torn labrum and rotator cuff tendon in left shoulder - 100% Preventable (Too much too soon - blaming college coach)
  • Biceps Impingement both shoulders at different times - 100% Preventable (Not enough balance in the midback muscles and rotator cuff)
  • Prolapse - Caused during labor from birthing a big headed baby with his hand jammed up by his head. Reversed from a grade 2 to a 0/.5.
  • Severe whiplash and permanently torn ligaments in my neck (The accident was so bad I blacked out and went numb from the neck down for a few minutes.) Now I need super strong neck and midback muscles to compensate for the ligaments. It took 2 years of working on it but I've been pain-free ever since.
  • Misaligned Ribs and Headaches on occasion from too much computer work (Can fix in a few minutes but fully preventable if I'm not at the computer for hours.) - 100% Preventable
  • Thoracic Nerve Impingement - 100% Preventable (Poor posture)
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome - 100% Preventable (Poor breathing on road bike)
  • Normal Diastasis After Being Pregnant (Completely closed)
  • Lumbar Disc Bulge L4-L5 (lifting a 300lb kicker I had no business lifting- idiot move) 100% Preventable
  • Facet Impingement - Wakeboarding Accident - Completely fixed in a few weeks.
  • SI Joint Pain Chronic for about 3 years during PT School - 100% Preventable (Core, diaphragm, hip, foot, etc. Total body muscle coordination)
  • SPD- The last week of pregnancy- walked around 3-4cm dilated and 60% effaced. There was not much holding my pelvis together. But, I was able to decrease the pain enough to walk by activating the right muscles.
  • Patellofemoral syndrome -100% Preventable (Not being strong enough to distance run)
  • Ankle Sprains 3 - 100% Preventable (Not enough hip strength)
  • Piriformis Pain - 100% Preventable (Not enough balance and correct movement in the hip.)
  • IT band syndrome - 100% Preventable (Not enough core/glute strength to distance run.)
  • Hip Bursitis - 100% Preventable (Not enough core/glute strength to distance run.)
  • Torn labrum, impingement in right hip - 100% Preventable (Not enough proper movement in the hip socket due to muscle imbalance.)
  • Bone spur from a compression fracture in anterior/lateral right ankle decreasing dorsiflexion - Wakeboarding Accident
  • Morton's Neuroma Right Foot - 100% Preventable (Wrong shoes, not enough foot/hip strength)

Your list may read similar to mine. But, I hope it's shorter!! I enjoy my aggressive sports, that's for sure. They take a toll, but 99% of the injuries above I could prevent today. The thought of having SI pain, IT band syndrome, piriformis pain or neck pain now is laughable. I'd be all over it like a helicopter parent at the playground.
One thing I've learned from myself and my patients is that things are so much easier to get rid of if you have a solid base of muscle balance. That's why I wanted to share this checklist. Just something to look over and ponder.
This list may be a little technical, but definitely, something to take to a local awesome PT in your area and say, "check me!" Also, a list to give you hope that things can be fixed!!! Not only have I seen patients heal from crazy things but I've also experienced it a great deal first hand. Do not give up on yourself!!!

If you can check off this list, chances are you have ZERO aches and pain.
#1. Neck Strength
  • Head inline with your body or is it forward?
  • Can you lift your head off the floor using your deep cervical flexors while relaxing your jaw?

#2. Midback/ Chest Strength

  • Scapula (shoulder blade) muscle strength (strong midback)?
  • Serratus anterior works more than your pec minor?
  • Strong pec major (not minor) to balance out a strong midback?
  • Shoulders that move well in the socket? Great rotator cuff to decrease biceps activity.

#3. Perfect Breathing System

  • Deep breathing with chest, back body, and diaphragm expansion?
  • This one may be the key to it all!!!

#4. Core Balance and Strength

  • Doming or diastasis with contraction?
  • Obliques that can eccentrically load on an inhale? i.e. not just belly breathing!
  • Balanced contraction between all ab muscles, upper/lower, sides and back?
  • Take a sec to look in the mirror. Are you more cut on the top than the bottom? That's an issue.

#5. Glute Strength and Hip Range of Motion

  • Glutes more dominant than hip flexors and hamstrings?
  • Plenty of hip external rotation and internal rotation?
  • Hips that moves well in the socket?

#6. Foot and Ankle Strength

  • Arches that don't collapse?
  • Big toes that stay on the ground during standing and exercise?

This is a list that I've worked through to feel great and common things I check on patients, especially when they have hard to fix issues that are not obvious. I'm not talking about making things feel better. I'm talking about making them go away forever!!! There are more things of course but I didn't want to keep you here all day. This is just a great starting point.
To truly fix something, you have to look at the entire body and how it works together. It's all connected.
If you're looking for an awesome workout that builds strength and stability where it counts, be sure to check out MomFit. It's not exercise for the sake of exercising. Pleeeasssee, who wants to waste precious time! It's a workout to create an unstoppable body that feels amazing as well!
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