the importance of being injured

you know those signs they have outside factories and nuclear plants? where they outline how many days it has been since the last accident? sometimes i feel like my life should come with one or two of those. the first one i’ll need to set up will demarcate how many hours it has been since i last spilled something on myself (i bet i’d stall out around two or three). another very pertinent countdown would show the time lapsed since my last injury. in this realm, i have to say … i’m pretty jazzed to show major improvement.

there was a time when i felt i was always injured. in high school and college, when i played soccer, i was constantly nursing pulled hamstrings, concussions or weird knee injuries. in my post-sports fitness life, i am a chronic ankle and foot injurer, whether it’s a sprained ankle or a displaced cuboid bone.

but for many, many moons, i have remained injury-free. i give a lot of credit for that fact to keri. in the past, a lot of my pain was self-inflicted because of overuse or overtraining. both my ankle sprains occurred after many days of working out without rest and attempting to run (or skip) on tired legs. but under keri’s watchful eye, i’ve been on a consistent schedule of fitness that is challenging, but not exhausting.

somehow, i recently managed to sneak in another tiny trauma. i’ve pulled/strained a muscle in my lower back. last friday, i was zealously completing a killer set of box jumps. in the last few, i felt a little pulling on the right side of my spine. nothing major, but i knew it was time to stop. so, i called it a day and headed home. i wasn’t in any pain later that night or the next day. in fact, dan and i even went on a beautiful four mile hike (pictures will be posted soon; they are GORGEOUS!) but the NEXT day, i woke up with a very stiff back and an unpleasant aching in the very same spot where i’d felt the pull. the muscles all around the area were wound up tighter than a nun’s bun and as icing on the cake, there was a little spasm action goin’ on.

my first instinct was to become enraged. all the usual thoughts flooded my mind: would i be able to walk? run? lift? stretch? sit at my desk? LIVE A NORMAL LIFE?!?!?

but after i started moving around a bit, the pain subsided a little, and with it, just a small portion of insanity. i decided that instead of writhing with worry, i was going to look on the “bright side.” i rejoiced in remembering how long it has actually been since my last injury and moved on with my day. since then, i’ve engaged in a couple yoga sessions, hot baths, impromptu back massages from dan and plenty of cathartic whining.

the pain still hasn’t excused itself entirely, but i have no doubt that before i know it, i’ll be foolishly attempting to jump on top of a box again (people really do look quite silly doing that, don’t they?) it probably won’t even be that long before i forget what it’s like to be injured, which often translates into foolish behavior and feigned invincibility.

basically, i’ve decided that sporadic injuries are my mind’s way of giving me a reality check. right now, my body is just getting a stern lecture from my mind: “listen here, you’re almost 30 and by the way, you sit on your butt all day at work, so if you wanna do stuff like box jumps, you need to be extra careful, warm up REALLY well beforehand and seriously stop skipping the post-workout stretch. use your foam roller and for christ’s sake, get a massage every now and again, would ya?”

personally, i’m just glad that my mind seems to step in before really drastic measures are necessary. to this day, i’ve never broken a bone or needed stitches, so i gotta go knock on wood in order to keep it that way.

see you all on the other side of my latest body wreck.

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