Change is coming and there’s something you can do about it. No, you can’t avoid the changes to your body, which will come over the course of your life. You can’t stop time and be forever 21 (if you are, enjoy…) but you can accept changes as they arise, adapt your thoughts and actions to maintain your health and allow yourself to look at your fitness in a different way.
We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.
It happened without warning when I was getting out of bed one morning. My left shoulder was seized by a sharp pain, which made lifting my arm over my head almost impossible. I tried massage, ice and rest, but the pain prevented me from lifting weights for almost a month. As a college student I had neither the insurance nor the means to see a doctor. This was also during my pre-exercise science/trainer era, so I didn’t possess the know-how to address what was a rotator cuff injury. Yet, I wanted to keep exercising, so I had to accept the fact it was time to discover new ways of staying fit.
I don’t remember much about my first yoga class in Charlotte, North Carolina, except I was the only guy there. No problem, let’s find out what yoga is…More than 20 years later, I still practice yoga several times a week and I can attest to it’s benefits for strength, mobility and stress reduction. I eventually returned to lifting weights, but my willingness to accept a new approach to fitness has paid lifelong dividends.
To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.
Remember the barefoot running craze? There were books, clinics, races and “toe shoes” created to accommodate the barefoot runner. The theory was that eliminating the support of shoes would force a more natural running motion and allow the barefoot runner to remain injury-free. I dunno…maybe I did too much too soon or I didn’t warm up properly or Mercury was retrograde, but I injured my foot flexors (the muscles on the bottom of the foot, which curl the toes). Basically, it felt like I was walking around with a tack in my foot. So, if I wanted to run again, I had to adapt my approach to preparation and recovery while my foot healed.
The first step was to invest in a pair of shoes fitted by a professional and experienced shoe expert. Yes, it cost a little more, but since I learned the best shoe for my movement pattern I’ve been able to go online or walk into any shoe store and select the best shoe without guesswork. Second, as my flexor hallucis longus ;) healed I also learned about the benefits of topical magnesium gel. This is a near-miracle cure for injured, fatigued muscles and I use it on my feet after every run or if I’ve been standing all day. The third change to my routine was the addition of moves such as banded walks to activate my hips, revolved triangles to stretch the hips and ankle mobility work. These adaptations to my workout have allowed me to continue running injury free.
I allow myself to fail. I allow myself to break. I’m not afraid of my flaws.
My biggest challenge to staying active and fit was an inguinal hernia, which was “repaired” over a year ago. Repaired is in quotes because the related pain returned several times in the year after the surgery. The discomfort was sometimes almost as severe as before the surgery, but after a negative test for a new hernia, I decided to approach the situation from a new angle: allow for a possible movement patterns, which caused the hernia, and do what I could to workout until I discovered the best way to correct the problem.
This is an ongoing story for me. Through trial and error, I have discovered a combination of back and hip flexors stretches, core work and shoulder flexion exercises, which seem to be working. Sometimes a lot of heavy lifting leads to some pain in the abdomen, but most of the time I feel great. Allowing this to be a bump and not a road block, has been a chance for me to learn more.
This is written for you if you’ve ever thought you couldn’t workout like you used to so you might as well give up. Keep moving! Accept where you are, adapt your approach and allow yourself to learn and grow.