Patience Isn’t Just a Virtue When You’re Injured.
Recently because I’m a football fan I’ve been reading about recovery of the quarterback of the Indianapolis Colts. His name is Andrew Luck and he’s a professional athlete who was the next up and coming superstar in the league.
That is, until he badly tore the labrum in his shoulder and had to have surgery. The whole thing was mismanaged by his medical staff and it’s a long story, but the point of the whole thing is this: He did not take a snap last football season and has been out of football for over a year due to rehab.
This is a professional athlete with access to daily physio, the best surgeons in the game and things like stem cell treatments, and he still has not thrown a football in over a year. A year. This is a guy who throws a football for a living and he’s not doing it to let his injury recover for a YEAR.
I’ll ask you a simple question: if he’s taking that long to recover with access to all of those resources, what makes you think that you can recover from an injury any faster?
Typical labrum tear surgery recovery is 3-4 months but can easily stretch into 6-9 months if things aren’t dealt with properly.
Over the years I’ve dealt with hundreds of injuries. One thing that I really try to get across to my clients is that if you are hurt, you need to give your body time to heal and recover from whatever it is. This takes TIME. Usually a period of weeks if not months. For some reason my Type A people seem to think that if they just baby a problem for a couple of weeks and then go right back into doing whatever they were doing before they will be fine.
Or even worse, they do physio but keep on doing the same activity that caused the injury in the first place and expect to recover. I had an example of that just last week and when I pointed it out to my client that not stopping the activity meant it would just get worse again she was for some reason completely dumbfounded.
Does this make sense?
The general guidelines for minor injuries is 4-6 weeks. More severe ones are 6-12 weeks. Surgery is anywhere from 3-6 months at LEAST depending on the issue.
My main point is this: we need to exercise patience as a society when it comes to our bodies.
Whether it comes to recovering from an injury, things like weight loss or achieving a goal like running a marathon, you need to exercise patience to succeed.
Setting a goal for recovery is just like any other goal – there is a timeline and a process involved. Sometimes it means not moving anything for a couple of weeks. Sometimes it is moving just a little bit as much as you can as frequently as you can to help the healing process. It can be frustrating and feel like it’s taking forever. But you have a long time to achieve whatever it is you’re trying to do.
If you want to be active and healthy for a lifetime, then taking six months to recover from an injury might represent less than 1% of your athletic or active life over a span of fifty years. You’re not missing anything by taking that time to make sure that whatever happened doesn’t happen again.
Be patient now, be consistent and give it time and you will succeed in your recovery. Rush back into activity and have a setback or make the situation worse and suddenly a six-week process becomes six months.
If an NFL player can not touch a football for a year, you can wait three months to rehab from surgery. Don’t think that your body or recovery process is any different. Patience and consistency wil get you results every time.
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Case Study: Randi S
This is another success story I’d like to share with my readers and anyone interested in what I do. This case really illustrates the gradual use of resistance to create tension and hold positions for spinal issues and how they can be improved.
Randi came to me through a referral from one of my local MAT practitioners. Often when these people are receiving treatment they require someone who has my skills to help increase their strength once their body is able to fire muscles properly again. Having this combination is a really great way to enhance your gains in strength and allow your body to develop at a much more rapid pace. By the way, I highly recommend MAT to anyone looking to improve their physical self, you can find more about it HERE.
When I first assessed Randi it was a challenge. In a nutshell, everything we tried caused pain in her back, localized mostly around the right SI joint area which was indicated as the main issue. This had been going on for almost eight years and caused her to give up a lot of things she enjoyed doing, like hiking, cycling and even caused her problems while walking her dog. She had trouble with simply standing in proper posture, which put pressure in areas that her back “didn’t like”. This became a frequent gauge of her pain levels during our first few sessions.
Doing what I do, I will at first admit that I miscalculated and didn’t realize how much Randi’s back would react to my initial movement pattern assignment. After our first session she was okay, but after the next couple her back was sore for four days to the point where she couldn’t do normal everyday activities. This is after doing much movements as simple hip flexion, mild bracing, some basic extension (ie hip hinging) and trying to integrate her hips with her shoulder girdle. I was surprised, but glad that Randi (after she recovered) allowed me to try again.
The lesson here for both you and myself, is that you can reduce any level of force to an appropriate one for any person. So what did I reduce to? Randi started out most of her subsequent sessions with postural holds (bracing in a standing position), walking in proper alignment, and then going through various drills and movements unloaded in order to teach her body to facilitate coordination without any load. Loads were added eventually, but using angles of her body and longer ranges of motion, not weights. This Is a very broad description, but it worked. Before long, Randi’s body was to the point where she could endure long car rides, do sustained long activities she enjoyed like cooking and was able to think about buying a bicycle for her main goal.
Randi’s main goal was to be able to bike 26 kilometers for her trip to the Canadian Rockies, something she had wanted to do for a long time. The first step was to get her back on a bike again. She lasted for only 45 seconds the first time we put her on one. Then, through gradual application and increasing of mileage not only did we get her back onto a real bicycle (after finding one her body could tolerate) but we got her to the point where she could bike for over an hour (with breaks) and while her back was tired, she was able to recover quickly and function normally afterwards. Progressions were done weekly and she was also given specific technique rules and ways she could approach what she was doing on the bike to take tension off of her back. With some movements, it is a matter of reteaching the body how to move.
One interesting weekend Randi pushed herself a bit too hard, not realizing that a 15km route (which was prescribed) was actually a 20km route with hills. Her back reacted accordingly, but the great thing was that she recovered fairly quickly. Recovery time is always a great marker for performance improvement. Normally what would have done her in for a week had her sore for a couple of days, which is fairly normal when you’re doing something you haven’t done in eight years.
I’m happy to say that Randi has made incredible progress. Not only did she successfully ride the trail in the Rockies, she is now dead lifting up to 50 pounds, performing movements like lunges and pulldowns and planks, and is able to recover from workouts quickly. Her MAT therapist has seen a significant change in the way her muscles hold onto position. This is all in a period of about six months.
Once of the best parts of my job is helping people like Randi and sharing in the results. Here’s a picture she sent me of her on the bike out in the Rockies accomplishing her goal:
Randi’s goals have moved away from reducing pain and into more typical goals like weight loss and strength gain, which is fantastic. Everyone has to start somewhere, and the great benefit that I tell my clients is that if you can teach your body to tolerate forces, then it will always improve. If you have any specific questions about my work with Randi (or anyone else) feel free to contact me through this site or at email@example.com. I’m always willing to help if I can.