I was recently helping a runner get over an injury. This person had decided to start running and had picked up a few injuries. Instead of getting depressed about her injury, she decided to change the way she looked at it. The logic went as follows: I was unfit and had allowed my body to weaken. I decided to reverse the process. The injury I now have was waiting in the wings. It would have hit later in life when it would have been more difficult to rehab. She faced a fork in the road, one between inactivity and getting the injury rehabbed. She chose the better path.
This logic blew my mind. Running had not brought the injury about. It was already there, latent and waiting. Most injuries come from weaknesses or imbalances. They lurk behind the scenes and are brought out of hiding more quickly when we start to exercise.
Fork no 1.
Get injured and blame your chosen sport. This route will see you getting depressed and frustrated. Or, see it as your body breaking down at a point where it was always going to break down. Shin splints often tell you that you have an intrinsic foot or hip weakness. ITB tells you that you have a hip issue. (Yes, equipment does come into the equation, you can read more about that here. I managed to pick up a shoulder issue a few weeks before swimming for the Midmar 8 Mile club. That was 4 months ago. I did recover from the injury just in time, however, I am still working on rehabbing an imbalance that has crept in over the years. So, fork no 1: Get depressed, or, get rehabbed and learn more about yourself.
Fork no 2.
Injuries are tricky, frustrating, and sometimes expensive to get over. You are either going to push through or turn back. You are either going to come through on the other side as a stronger athlete or you are going to settle for a life of inactivity.
My hope is that you push through. I know for myself that the more I move, the happier I am.
Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in under four minutes, made this statement decades ago,
“The more restricted our society and work become, the more necessary it will be to find some outlet for this craving for freedom.”
This must be one of most profound quotes ever. If that was true then, it is even appropriate now. The complexity of 21st-century living, finances, health issues, political and social upheavals, social media, traffic congestion, Google, climate change – the list is endless – has led us to extremely restricted lifestyles.
I truly believe that we must keep moving. We need to have a sense of adventure. That sense of adventure should not be restricted to a short December holiday. It can take place on a daily basis.
Yuval Noah Harari writes this in his book, Sapiens, “The pursuit of an easier life resulted in much hardship, and not for the last time. It happens to us today. How many young college graduates have taken demanding jobs in high-powered firms, vowing that they will work hard to earn money that will enable them to retire and pursue their real interests when they are thirty-five? But by the time they reach that age, they have large mortgages, children to school, houses in the suburbs that necessitate at least two cars per family, and a sense that life is not worth living without really good wine and expensive holidays abroad…One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations.”
This restricted world of ours requires us to sit for hours every day just to try and sort stuff out. When was the last time that anything in your life went simply? You can decide today to simplify your life as much as possible and then get moving more. Is there a chance that you will pick up an injury? Yes, there is. However, the injury or weakness was probably going to show up anyway at some stage. Dealing with an injury now is much easier than dealing with one in the future. Whatever your age, you are younger today than you will be next month – you can’t argue with that logic.
So, sort your injury out: You need to move.