The Bright Side to Injury
Nothing is more important than your health, so we often hear, and with good reason. But what about the importance of what we can learn from pain, injury, or illness. These kinds of trials and tribulations can be exactly what we need. What might be felt as a roadblock is often putting us on a better path, but only if we pay attention, learn, and move forward with that well-earned wisdom.
It takes a leap of faith. You have to believe that there is value and something to be gained from what looks like a set back.
It starts with paying attention. If you get injured, you might look at what warning signals you may have ignored. Those early warnings often contain the antidote to what ails you. I have a good example. A sharp pain in my right foot began to make it impossible for me to even walk, much less run. I did not pay attention soon enough. When the pain started, I thought I had a pebble in my shoe. I asked Danny to take a look and he thought the wear pattern on my shoe was unusual; the wear being in the middle of the ball of the foot. We cleaned out the ground in dirt and pebbles in the sole and I continued walking and running. I kept feeling something and thought it was my shoes.
Then one day I hiked in old, worn-out shoes. I threw them on to drive Journey to school and a friend suggested a hike. I thought, “What the heck, these shoes will do.” Big mistake. We hiked some pretty steep trails and I was not paying attention. The next day the pain was severe and did not let up. I could not take a step without pain.
The fear that I had really hurt my foot was pouring through me. And memories of similar pain began to flash through me. When I was much younger and working in New York City I sometimes wore high heels, and my right foot was always the one that would tweak with a warning.
I realized that my foot problem was a long, long time in the making.
I went and saw Robyn Hughes, a naturopathic podiatrist, here in Asheville, NC. She is a protegee of Dr. Ray McClanahan of Portland, the inventor of Correct Toes®. Dr. Hughes calmed my fears that I would never walk without pain again, explained the physical issues and gave me some exercises to do. With this knowledge and advice, I have since set about to correct the problem with: zero drop shoes with a really wide toe box, Correct Toes, Dr. Hughes’ exercises, my own online research and most importantly, Body Sensing every step I take. It has been and continues to be a fascinating adventure in which my every step is giving me loud and clear feedback.
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Because of this painful injury I am now doing everything we advise in Chi Walking and Chi Running, only more assiduously than ever before. I have to be faithful to: engaging my core, taking small steps, pointing my right foot forward (it splays out too much, despite the progress I have made over the years), and the big one has simply been relaxing. Every time my body is tense, I can feel the ball of my foot remind me that holding tension is doing me no favors. If my shoulders are tense and my core lax, my foot lands in a way that causes pain. If I’m relaxed and my core in engaged, I have no pain. It’s eye-opening to learn that my foot pain is linked to how I move my upper body, and it reminds me to treat my body as one whole entity and not as parts moving independently.
This has opened a whole world of Body Sensing where I hold tension and relaxing whenever I feel it, even when I’m not running or walking. This practice is making me much more aware of the thoughts that trigger tension. This injury has the potential to improve my life pretty dramatically by practicing relaxation and all the other Chi Form Focuses. My core is stronger, my posture better, and my general outlook is more positive.
We read amazing stories about people overcoming terrible health issues, but the truth is, it does not have to be life-threatening to learn a lot and have an injury become one of the best things that ever happened to you. By paying attention to warning signals early on, injury, pain, or illness can serve as timely reminders that there is a better way.
- injury prevention,
- injury recovery,
- body sensing,
- body scan,