Did you all know/hear that I hurt my back pretty badly on Wednesday afternoon? Yeah, totally did. Couldn’t really walk. Marc Z had to carry my computer bag for me, and my incredible wife has done nearly everything else for me.
Anyhow, before my brain starts to focus on much else, I wanted to get some thoughts about my current state down on paper. And before the story grows more elaborate and the weight I had on the bar gets even heavier! It was more than an empty barbell, I swear! Mark James was there as my witness!
Firstly, lets get this out of the way – injuries happen. To all of us. At some point, you will get injured. No, I don’t mean to say that you will get hurt at the gym. Nor do I ever want you chasing injury. But somehow, some way, you will tweak/injure/maim/strain/break/aggravate some part of your body. And you will never realize how much you utilized said part until you cannot use it like it was designed. (Did you notice how I worked ‘maim’ in there?)
How did I injure myself? Coming up from the bottom of a back squat, I felt a moment of lumbar flexion and immediately dumped the bar. Even still, I’m not quite sure how or why, I’m still reflecting on that.
My aim of this post is to get across to you the process I’ve taken to getting back to my normal self. While I’m not there yet, I’m much better off now than I was 48 hours ago. The more serious you take the healing and recovery process, and the more dedicated you are to it, the quicker your recovery will be.
- Let people know that you got hurt. My chain of communication was as follows – my wife, my rehab team, my coach, my support team. In that order.
- I don’t think I need to outline why my wife was the first to know, but its worth mentioning that she’s the more grounded person in this scenario. She managed a chiropractic clinic before and has done rehab so I knew she’d be a good voice of reason while I imagined the worse. (I told you I couldn’t walk for a while, right?)
- I called my rehab team, StrongLife Chiropractic, literally from the ground after crawling over to my phone. I needed to see how fast I could get in to see them. I was in the office less than 15 minutes later. Thanks to my driver Marc Z!
- I told my coach because he needs to be aware why I would not complete that days training and also be prepared to modify things going forward when we learned more about the injury.
- Who is my support team? Our CFG coaches. You guys that are reading this. I cannot stress enough the importance of simply having a large group of people praying and wishing for a speedy recovery. The daily (ok, sometimes hourly) check-ins are a nice break from focusing in on the things that I can’t do – namely walk, have any spinal movement, hold my children. You know, the things we take for granted.
- Your body does its best repair jobs when you sleep. Get a lot of it. Have kids? No worries, if you followed step 1 above and communicated whats going on, surely someone will step up to help out while you give your body the rest it needs. Thankfully, my wife is awesome and let me get all sorts of sleep. Depending on when you read this, I likely just woke up from a nap.
- Another note on this: our coaches stepped up BIG TIME by coaching in my place so that I could rest. THANK YOU to each of you.
- Mandy says I need to be honest – no matter when you are reading this, I likely just woke up, haha!
- Probably the part that people miss the boat on the most is using a rehab team that they not only know well, but that know YOU equally as well. Treatment is very individual in regards to the extent and type of injury as well how your body reacts to different modalities – this is important for your rehab team to understand. Notice that I said rehab team – not only do I lean heavily on Dr. Justin Scott for the big decisions (protocols, treatment type and duration, treatment intensity), but also his other specialists. When I go there, I know I’m in the best hands.
- So, what have I had done thus far? Dr. Scott evaluated me based upon what I told him happened and what my body allowed him to see. He did a few manipulations to rule out serious disc injury (thank the good Lord). He also did a bit of Active Release Technique (ART) to try and restore some movement and reduce inflammation. Because I saw him literally 20 minutes after it happened, the acute stage of the injury site did not allow him to do much at that time. Translation: I cried out too much for him to do anything.
- Another of his rehab specialists, Maggie, came in and did some Graston Technique (look it up, its…awesome!) to flush out and reduce some of the inflammation and then finished me up with some Kinesiotape to aid my posture and restore some of my alignment. Dr. Scott also sent me home with some Tumeric (an anti-inflammatory), Salizain (a natural pain reliever), a TENS unit (portable electrical stimulation device) and told me to bump up my fish oil consumption to 3g. I was also told to ice my back (no heat quite yet) every other hour. Thankfully, I have this sweet thing called a “Hyperice” to help with that.
- Over the next 48 hours, I returned two more times and was able to receive low back adjustments, more Graston, and was put onto his Power Plate to restore good blood and lymph flow to the injured area. When I left Friday morning, I was walking nearly upright with a good chunk of the pain and discomfort gone.
- Lastly, its worth mentioning that many times you may not need to see anyone outside of your own common sense. But if the injury is severe enough, and folks on the front line (maybe your coaches?) have said “Thats past my scope of expertise. Go see a medical professional,” then go and see one. I don’t really care who you go and see, but let me be very clear on one important thing – there are NO quick fixes for recovery and rehab. You will be in pain, and you’ll want a quick fix, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t exist…so don’t fall into the trap of reaching for a fictitious one.
- Yes, rest helps. Tremendously. Letting the body heal the injured area while not moving is wicked important. But a lack of movement for too long can do more harm than good. Your body needs movement in and around the injury site to move bad fluid out and good fluid into the area.
- No, I’m not saying head out to the gym or go for a run. But get up, walk around. Make some food.
- Don’t overdo it. Case in point: the morning after my injury happened, I got up out of bed that morning to use the bathroom. I wanted to resume my “normal” routine, so after the bathroom, I headed over to brush my teeth. Bad move. As I stood there, the room closed in on me, I got super nauseous, broke out into an immediate sweat and almost passed out. I made my way back to the bed and had to have Mandy bring me a cold rag for my head. Sad, I know. You may laugh…I’m ok now. Sort of.
- To those of you who are reading this and thinking, “Take time off? Sleep? Who does he think I am? I don’t have time to lay around and whine about not being able to walk.” Stop celebrating how tough you are and how you still did XYZ while you were hurt. We’re not impressed, especially not your body. And neither will your ego be when your rehab and recovery take exponentially longer because you didn’t use the help people are willing to give you. And if you don’t have people willing to help, well…
- Come up with a plan to truly get back to normal. Take your time. When your body feels “ready,” take more time. Be patient. This is probably the hardest part for everyone, even me.
No, I’m not out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. More frustrating for me than anything has been the period of reflection to where I look back and analyze how/where things went wrong for me. How did I sustain an injury doing something I’ve done literally hundreds of thousands of times before? Thats a post for another day. Thats all for now.