About 7 years ago I decided to change my path. I was in college at Missouri State. As a matter of fact, I was sitting in Dr. Runke’s Individual and Dual Sports class as a Physical Education Major. It was that day that I decided to change my major to Exercise Science. I wanted to teach people how to move, how to be healthy, but without doing it in a classroom. Why, you ask? I was an athlete plagued by injury. There was not a year in school that went by the something didn’t go wrong. Six months prior to sitting in that class, my baseball career ended with a shoulder surgery. This surgery could have been prevented, seeing as it was my second one. It was one that stemmed from an injury that I sustained my senior year of high school.
You see, after that first surgery, I didn’t take my rehab seriously. Yes, my shoulder healed, but it was like a ticking time bomb waiting to go off again. I didn’t let it heal property nor did I seek more help when I realized something was still wrong. I was going to play college ball. What did it matter? Well, it turns out that it meant everything. I didn’t listen to the doctor. I didn’t listen to the therapists. And, I played through the minor aches and pains until I could play no more. Let me tell you folks, NEVER is a long consequence for something that could have taken just a few months to rehab back to perfect health.
Now as a fitness professional I see things like this every day. An ache here, a pain there and an “I’m going for it anyway,” attitude. Most of these incidents don’t lead to much worse damage. However, I have come across people that have had a minor ache or pain turn into a debilitating injury that required serious medical attention, surgeries, etc. Little did these people know that taking a few days off to seek preventative measures would have been well worth the time compared to the recoveries they then had to face.
One example that I see all too often is improper deadlift form. This can lead to ‘tweaking’ the back, which can then lead to a steady ache or pain, and eventually (and I know from experience) disc bulges and hernias in the spine. Once you reach the point of compromising the make-up of the spine with the latter of those three issues, you are in for a painful recovery. The early warning aches and pains should have been your first sign that you needed to seek out professional help AND to give your spine a REST until you can do so. If you end up prolonging this, you may go too far and your deadlifting days could be over.
I don’t bring these things up to scare people. That is not my intention. However, it took me losing quite a bit my first year of college to realize that pain is not normal. Pain is your brain and body telling you that something is wrong. Seeking medical or clinical help can keep things from becoming larger problems. The only problem that I see is that when a doctor or therapist says not to do something, people start making exceptions not realizing they could be making the problem worse. A doctor’s, a therapist’s, and yes even a trainer’s goal is not to make you mad by keeping you from doing something. Instead, they are trying to keep a short road to recovery from turning into a long one. Take it from me, TAKE THE TIME and keep yourself from thinking about the woulda-coulda-shouldas.