Oh, the Pain

| August 9, 2011 | 10 Comments

Okay, I’m going to just say it: I’m in pain and it sucks. I mostly attribute my aches to my active lifestyle. But if I were a couch potato, would I be pain free? Maybe. But my mind and spirit would suffer.

Over the years, I’ve accepted the fact that when you’re active, you sometimes get injured. I’ve had my share of twists and sprains and tears, most treatable by ice and Ibuprofen, but a few required me to go under the knife.

My first surgery was in college when I was playing Ultimate. I tore my Achilles and needed surgery to repair it. I remember enjoying the weeks of physical therapy because I felt like I was going to a personal trainer several times a week… and my student insurance was paying for it. I also discovered running in the pool, which helped me transition to running back on land quickly.

In my late 20s, my feet started acting up on me and I ended up needing surgery on both of them—removal of a bunion on one foot, and removal of neuromas in both feet. I had to lie in bed for a week during which I caught up on some favorite movies and books. Today, I still need to stretch and pamper my tootsies. The occasional pedicure never hurts.

In my 30s, I developed severe tendonitis in my right elbow, the result of poor set-up at my computer as well as too much mountain biking and thinking the pain would just go away. Well, it didn’t. My tendon wore down and eventually tore, requiring surgery. But it taught me the importance of an ergonomic set-up at my desk and also to back off of biking if anything aches. My maintenance requires frequent stretching of my arms and shoulders, along with giving me an “excuse” to get a massage.

Now in my early 40s, I have a constant reminder that I’m getting older: my lower back. Actually, my back has been nagging me for decades, but I’ve kept it under control with occasional massage and stretching. Lately, though, it’s had a mind of its own. I went to a trainer that I’ve worked with in the past, and he noted that I had a weird rotation on my right side. He recommended chiropractic and I learned that I have a rotated right pelvic bone. So I’m now in the midst of a several-months-long treatment of adjustments once a week to get me back on track. I am optimistic as I can see and feel my body changing.

But I’m still fighting some pain on a daily basis.

So I deal with it the best I can. I remain positive that I am on the right path and I treat my body well with massage, healthy food, vitamins, along with staying active and keeping my joints moving. It’s turning in to more of a mental game, one that I’m determined to win. I just have to take it day to day.

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  1. Becky Keeling says:

    As a long-time martial artist, I, too, have some aches and surgeries “under my belt” so-to-speak. For the most part, I’ve gotten past them, and they don’t haunt me on a daily basis, but the doctors do promise I can look forward to arthritis in those areas. I work on a computer all day, as well, and have suffered from lower back pain and neck pain from 1) not getting up and moving around enough, and 2) my eyes changing as I’ve grown older, leading me to stretch my neck to see my monitor (bad ergonomics). I’ve received *some* benefits from chiropractic treatment in the past, but REALLY got results when I finally connected with a spine clinic that used a variety of approaches, including getting me an MRI (finally!) which was KEY to understanding my exact anatomical issues. With that information in hand, and some excellent physical therapy, I know now what to do ON MY OWN to make my back feel better, when it flares up. The pelvic rotation you describe is pretty common. Chiropractors *can* be good, but if you don’t start seeing results soon, move on. Physical therapy worked great for your ankle back in the day… Best wishes!

  2. Oh the lack of pain…That is my specialty. If you haven’t used acupuncture it is worth a try. I am highly trained and all the L.Ac. practitioners have good training. There is one in your neighborhood. Andy

  3. Amy T. says:

    I am in my early 50’s and have had left side lower back pain for years. When It got so bad I could barely move, I did the chiropractic thing for a couple of months and the really severe pain subsided. Eventually, however, the nagging pain (especially when walking long distances on concrete or asphalt) returned. At first my doctor gave me muscle relaxers (which actually helped), but the longer lasting relief has come from strengthening the muscles in my stomach, hips, and lower back through weight training and stretching. Horizontal leg presses (go down really low so your legs are really bent to strengthen the low back and hips) and the prone piriformis stretch, which a physical therapist can show you, have really helped me manage the pain. I just got back from hiking in the Alps with a 35 pound pack and my lower back never hurt at all (though maybe that was because my shins, knees and hips hurt so badly from the descents that I didn’t notice). Carry on!

  4. Rebecca Kane says:

    Hi Rebecca!
    You need to come to Summit County and ride bikes with me. Do you still have your Yeti? I traded mine in for a 29er.
    I can relate to the pain. I just turned 50. I have always been super athletic and love to push myself really hard. The pain the next day was always a good feeling because I knew I had worked out hard. But lately, the pain the next day is not so great, and then the pain stays with me all week.
    I guess getting old means adapting to new pain thresholds. It’s important to recognize the pains that are serious and the pains that are just a part of getting old.
    Thanks for this great post
    Rebecca (T.O. Rebecca)

  5. Alice Svoboda says:

    Having recently retired from a career of working in doctor’s offices, I can assure you that being a couch potato is not pain free. I have seen so many relatively young folks come in who can hardly get up out of a chair or walk even a short distance at all (knees, hips, obesity). Inactivity is painful. It’s so much more fun having pain from riding, hiking, etc. I

  6. Carol Emrick says:

    I am 64, 65 in January. I am a triathlete and avid biker(done Ride-the-Rockies nineteen times). I am also an integrative health care nurse and I had an extensive shoulder surgery repair over a year ago. I now know what chronic pain is and how tough that is to handle on a daily basis. You can’t take drugs all the time and they have unpleasant side effects. I used healing touch, Reiki, acupuncture, and visualization. I could no longer do any running, biking, swimming or yoga and became a “couch potato” in pain!! I worked very hard in Physical Therapy, but developed back pain issues from not being able to stretch and move and exercise and I had sciatica. More Physical Therapy for my spine and depressing thoughts that I would never get back to my pre-surgery condition! I read two studies, one that showed that depression causes bone loss and another that showed loss of brain matter if you tolerated chronic pain without doing something to relieve it. I began to practice meditation with deep relaxation. A relaxed body will heal and finally that’s where I am. The triathlon was last week and I did well. Yea! I say take care of your body and don’t push it. Do stretching (always) and deep meditation and be grateful for your good health.

  7. Andria Davis says:

    I feel your pain! I have laid around and cried and felt sorry for myself about injuries many times. Injuries, pain and aging are inevitable in life no matter what you do, so we just have to accept that first off. The next thing is to analyze why you got the injury. What I have learned is that injuries are a result of something; and while you are injured, it is a good time to reflect on what got you to this point–pushing too hard? poor technique? Take the time to do mindfulness training and discover more about yourself as an athlete–you will be amazed at what you find. Also, as I heal, I find that a therapeutic yoga practice helps as a guide–a practice that is tailored to you so that you move through poses in a self-discovery way. Do the poses very very slowly and notice how you move, notice what your mind does, notice how your breathing changes. Again, you will be amazed at what you find out! Never push through pain in a yoga practice–there is a reason for pain–it is a message from your body. Slow down, move only in a pain free range of motion, listen, and learn!

    I actually just wrote a blog post on this same issue too! I hope it helps and I’d love any feedback!

    http://yogaventures.blogspot.com/2011/06/in-injury-rut-quit-skimping-on-your.html

    Peace,
    Andria

  8. Kathy says:

    I too have suffered chronic pain in my SI joint (if anyone knows of a cure, let me know!). It’s probably an overuse injury from marathon training. The level of pain comes and goes, but running is more like run/walking these days; more time spent on the bike and weight training and Nike Training club drills (even the beginner level is tough!). Like Amy, I’ve found having a strong core goes a long way in making it possible for me to stay active. I’m 52 years old, and my family has a history of obesity, so it’s vital for my mental health as well as my physical health to stay active. Thanks for the great post and the opportunity to vent a little!

  9. Stacey says:

    I unfortunately can relate to the back pain issues. Last year I was out of commission for almost a year. No riding, running or swimming, only power walking which didn’t really do wonders for those endorphins I was used too! The disc healed after several rounds of epidural injections, chiropractor sessions and Physical therapy. If I learned anything last year, it was how to properly take care of my back with core exercises. I can’t do yoga anymore, but have found that pilates reformer works better. I’m back on the bike and just returned from a cycling trip in France…that was a huge goal for me. The SI joint still gives me trouble and frustrations, so not too much running which I really miss. It’s constant work to stay ahead of the injuries, but ultimately worth it in the end!

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