Over the last few years I have had more than my fair share of cycling accidents: a broken femur in 2010, a compressed L1 in 2011, and over the last few years repeated shoulder dislocation (no biggie it just pops back in right?). The femur, and eventually the shoulder, needed surgery and in both cases I was blessed with speedy treatment by superb surgeons. The morning after the femur was operated on I was able to hobble to the bathroom to take a pee. Amazing!
In addition to the great surgeons I have also been supported by my athletic therapist, Kevin Jardine at the Urban Athlete, who has put in many hours keeping my body working. With Kevin’s help I am working consistently to try and maintain the ability of my body to perform athletically. One of Kevin’s mantras is that movement is medicine – without movement there is no recovery.
Kevin talks about how when you injure yourself you not only injure your body but also affect your brain. You injure your body and also impact your brain’s ability to communicate with that part of the body: the part of the brain affected actually diminishes and starts to lose the ability to communicate with the injured area. When I came out of surgery for my shoulder I definitely did not want to move it, and still felt that way several weeks later. Kevin explained that rehabilitating the shoulder wasn’t about doing weights, it was about activating the small muscles which in turn helps re-establish the pathways of communication to the brain.
Now, I am not saying that the day after you have surgery or injure yourself that you should go out and try to start moving. Doing little in the way of movement can also have a place in the recovery process, as it did with my shoulder. But at some point it will be necessary to start re-establishing your neuromuscular pathways and that is where movement is indispensable.
When you injure yourself most likely you will go see a therapist, and they will help you with some work on your body to help alleviate some of the tension in your muscles. This is important stuff. But just as important, or even more so, are the exercises that they will give you to help with your rehabilitation. This is where you start to be in control of your health. Doing the exercises diligently, progressing through a variety of phases and taking the time to heal yourself is the key to well-being. You want to perform well again in the future and this is the time to control your fate.
Ultimately, through a variety of choices, our health is largely in our own hands. Kevin truly believes that with movement we can overcome recurring pain and improve our quality of life. It is also the means to maintaining our health and improving our athletic performance.
Here is a the video that inspired this blog.