Listening to your body – this is a skill I do not possess, but one that I am scrambling to develop. If I had only mastered this seemingly simple skill earlier on in life I could have avoided many unpleasant situations.
As a runner, I have come to learn this lesson the hard, and expensive, way. I am still recovering from the crushing blows to my IT bands, knees, hip flexors and hamstrings. I have been in physio for several months and have seen improvement, but I am still in pain and still not allowed to run. I continue be outpaced by the geriatric crowd in the row of recumbent bikes at the gym. I am capable of taking my legs out for a spin in the evenings, but the crunching noises when I do my calf raises, quarter squats and lunges remain worrisome.
All of this could have been avoided if I had heeded the warning signs – the limping during or post-run, the leg stiffness that never seemed to end and the searing pain throughout the upper portion of my lower body. All of this because I was afraid of looking like a wimp. Well, now I am the wimp who listens to her knees snap, crackle and definitely pop going down a flight of stairs, who is too sore to handle a foam roller. Instead, I am armed with ice and a rolling pin to treat the pain. I spend at least an hour each day doing my physio homework to atone for my sins.
This is not the only time I have been punished for not listening to my body. My whole existence as an IBS sufferer exemplifies this. My biggest issue with IBS has always been tuning in early enough to what my body is trying to tell me. Specifically, I have difficulties realizing that I am stressed and/or sick. I never clue until I am already in the midst of a full-blown IBS episode.
Since my last episode in late 2009 I have been trying to pay more attention to these signals. Yoga is certainly helpful – first and foremost, by the end of a class I am utterly relaxed. In addition, the yoga breathing has helped me through many close calls and through the pain often associated with IBS. Yoga breathing is a small miracle, I kid you not. Finally, yoga encourages you to pay attention to your body and to relax targeted areas. Through yoga I am slowly but surely tuning in and trying to listen.
What I have learned since my injury is that I should not be too proud to slow down when trying to achieve a goal. It is certainly more worthwhile to slowly improve than to go out guns blazing and injure myself. I have also learned that patience really is a virtue, even though I curse patience on a daily basis as I diligently stretch and roll my way to an injury-free body. I have also learned that a glass of wine can cure a multitude of problems – like “I feel sorry for myself”, or “I cannot face doing another clamshell” or “no, I cannot go for a run, I am still injured”. With this, I raise my glass of Nova 7 and propose a toast to being a wimp.