Injury = Opportunity

By Andrew Radcliffe

                As many of you know I recently had an episode involving my low back that kept me out of work for a week. Being a personal trainer who is always active you can see how this would make me go somewhat crazy. I am posting this article to tell you a little more about my “injury” and what I am doing to make sure this never happens again.

                Everybody asks me what “injured” my low back. Was it a deadlift, a kettle swing, lifting too heavy of weights? I immediately tell them no, it was due to my laziness in the last month or so. My body, just like everybody else’s sends me messages every single day. Some messages I choose to ignore (runny nose, itchy throat, cheat meal on a Monday) and some I listen to very closely (stretch my tight hamstrings after a hard workout, call my mother on her birthday, take a mid-day nap). The days leading up to my injury I didn’t listen to my body. I had been feeling extra tightness in my hips and had noticed my range of motion was suffering because of it. Looking back I should have realized I was a ticking time bomb. I would never let one of my clients start their training session before warming up those tight areas specifically, but that’s exactly what I did myself. As I should have expected I threw my back out. As the day went on my immobility became worse. I went from driving home to hobbling through the front door, to crawling to the bedroom, to “slithering” my way next to my bed where I remained most of the next two days. Not fun at all. This is where everybody reading this should feel really sorry for me and tell me how awful it is that I have to deal with this injury and that I have to be more careful with my lower back and blah blah blah. I caused my lower back to go out. Not exercise, not my stress at work (which I have none anyway so couldn’t complain about that). This injury was my fault. I got lazy with my mobility and stretch routine and I didn’t listen to my body.

                I had a lot of thoughts that week laying home away from work, a place that gives me so much joy. First was pity, oh poor me, blah blah blah. Second was how I get back to work as fast as possible, and third was TV really sucks these days. I was done with feeling bad for myself, so I laid a plan out in front of me. A concrete action plan so that I could guarantee results for my lower back and overall health. This plan included morning exercises to get my hips firing, heat and ice throughout the day, mid-day stretch and yoga routine, foam rolling and lacrosse ball myofacial release for my muscles, and a glute and hip strength routine I could complete with no equipment at home. This sounds like a lot of work and some days it felt like a lot of work but I knew that this was necessary for my body. The overall time I spent on my back the first week was about 1-2 hours per day, the second week 1 hour a day tops and my routine today has been consolidated into about three 10 to 15 minute sessions. I would encourage everybody with low back issues to follow my lead and stop avoiding their low back and the exercises that “flair” it up. Get aggressive with your rehabilitation and see tangible results. Stop living with day to day tightness and start feeling better every day. If you ever need help coming up with an action plan please let me know. I have helped many, many people out over the last few years get out of back pain, now I can include myself on that list.