They restrict you, hurt you, confine you and limit you. They get in the way of you doing the things that you enjoy and they make it that bit harder to get out of bed each morning and drag yourself through life.
Well, at least that’s the glass half empty view.
If you’re willing to take the glass half full perspective, you may also realise that injuries can help us. They challenge us and help us to identify those things that really mean a lot to us. They provide us with opportunities to find new ways of doing things, of focusing on our weaknesses, on developing strengths that we might not have otherwise spent any time on. They provide opportunities to celebrate the small wins, to redefine what success means to us and to appreciate those things that we do have or can do.
At least, that’s been my experience.
I first realized that I was carrying an injury after my third muscle up session with Macca. My shoulder was hurting and it just wouldn’t stop. Everyday movements like driving the car, opening doors and hanging washing on the line (ok, so not everyday) hurt so bad I would avoid doing them (especially the hanging out of washing on the line!). I was devastated. I felt that I was pretty close to getting that illusive muscle up but I eventually had to abandon that goal and walk away from it. This was two workouts away from completing the open this year.
I was gutted.
I started to loose motivation to come to the gym. I went from attending 5 to 6 days a week to making it for maybe 3 or 4 times a week, if lucky. Macca wrote me a program but I didn’t enjoy doing my own thing in the back while everyone else did the regular stuff. For me one of the key reasons that Crossfit is so much more enjoyable than other ways of keeping fit is the shared experience with others and the sense of belonging that you get from it. When you’re not joining in, it’s hard to feel as though you belong.
So, I abandoned the individual program and just starting joining in, substituting movements where I had to. The program that Macca had written me had heaps of ideas for alternative movements and the coaches were always willing to help figure something out for me so that I could play along too. My attendance went pretty much back to normal and I found myself setting new goals. I got better at pistol squats (well, sort of – I still suck at these but I suck a little bit less), double unders, front squats and GHDs. My running improved (I couldn’t row) and so did my deadlifts. Basically, I felt as though I’d got my MOJO back and I was enjoying gym again.
Then there was surgery. I went into it expecting for my arm to be in a sling for a few days and then a few weeks of recovery before resuming fairly usual movement. Things didn’t go to plan, the damage in my shoulder was worse than they had expected (apparently the shoulder joint is really hard one to get a view into, even with an MRI). When I woke up from surgery, I was told that I would be in a sling for four weeks, minimum. I wouldn’t be able to drive for at least that time and that it may even take longer.
I followed the surgeon’s orders and did my time in the sling. My physio also kept a pretty close eye on me (he knows what I like to do with my time and has always been a little bemused by my sporting endeavours) but he gave me exercises to do and ways to keep active.
After a visit from Leesa, I started dropping in to CFDV just to sit on a bike and move enough to raise my heart rate. I had to give up on the airdyne for a bit (such a shame) as I kept slipping off the pedals and falling and when one arm is strapped to your chest that’s no fun. The guys were great about it and happy for me to just come in, use the equipment and move. No questions asked, no fees charged. Everyone was great about it. It was good just to be able to chat with people and stay connected.
And now I’m back joining in again. I’m back with the 6.00am crew, still restricted but I have a whole new set of goals. A couple of weeks ago the aim was to get my arm above my head, then a couple of seconds hanging from the bar was something to celebrate and recently I managed a full strict pull up, which surprised me because I haven’t done one of those for months. Every time I achieve something new, someone is there to celebrate my wins with me and get excited over the little stuff.
I’m still so far away from being back to where I was when the injury took over and that used to bother me and frustrate me but I’m choosing instead to focus on the wins I’m having. It’s a bit like being a newbie again when you make gains almost every session because everything is new. Every session I achieve something, last week it was pull ups, yesterday it was a rope climb and front squats with a weighted bar. Maybe next week I’ll be back doing cleans……
or maybe I’ll just get better at those damn pistol squats.
Disclaimer: my shoulder injury was not in any way associated with my activities at Crossfit. I had a bone spur which was tearing up my rotator cuff. It’s a genetic thing – I blame my mother (sorry Mum).