Hero Training 102: The Benefits of Injury

benefits of injuryWe’re back in the Big Smoke and spending more time than ever with our pal, Brian Johnson.

Philosopher extraordinaire and the mastermind behind Optimize —an online portal that delivers more wisdom in less time— Brian is inspiration on steroids.

If you’re as lazy as I am, you’ll love Brian’s minimalist approach to getting better at life.

Hero Training 102

In his Hero Training 101 seminar —which is based on Joseph Campbell’s well known book The Hero’s Journey and features the fascinating documentary Finding Joe— Brian emphasizes the importance of getting really comfortable with being uncomfortable.

Our five-part Hero Training 101 series chronicles the seven months we spent untethered. In Hero Training 102 we’ll look at how we can continue our learning now that we’re settled again.

Ed: This is the third post in our Hero Training 102 series. Here are the others:

• From untethered back to settled and cubicled
Who is your therapist?
• Building your antifragile muscle (with a friend)

The Benefits of Injury

It might sound a little crazy, but injury brings with it many benefits.

Younger me is snorting indignantly at the idea of something so preposterous..

Perhaps the most obvious is that it reminds you of how much you have to be grateful for. When we’re in good health rarely do we consider what a gift that is.

We just walk or run or cycle or whatever without a second thought for the fact that we’re able to do these things.

It’s only when something happens to prevent us from using our body to its full potential that we become aware of the gift we so cavalierly take for granted.

Sometime during our time in Oudtshoorn I developed a pain in my leg. I didn’t fall or run too far or overstretch the muscle. The pain just arrived.

Because it was in my leg, I assumed my leg was the problem and proceeded to ignore it, as I’m wont to do. I figured if it arrived on its own, it would likely leave on its own, too.

Find the Help You Need

Long story a little shorter, the pain didn’t leave. It moved around, it came and went, it was everything except consistent.

When ignoring the problem didn’t work I proceeded to do the next obvious thing. I Googled ‘pain in side/back of leg’.

Don’t judge, I know I’m not the only one who self-diagnoses on the Interwebs.

My search led me to a series of videos on how to stretch the piriformis muscle. I did them for a couple of days, felt no improvement and decided that clearly wasn’t the problem.

“Perhaps I should see a physio,” I said to Sporty, who, it should be noted, didn’t respond with a sarcastic “Ya think?”

Sometimes the Universe has to lead you by the nose and this was definitely the case for me. Our spinning instructor Natalie —who also happens to be an ultra-athlete of epic proportions— mentioned that she’d been to the biokineticist for a running injury.

It was as if someone smacked me upside the head. I’ve been walking with a limp for 49 years, there’s probably a good chance I’m a little out of alignment.

Ya think?

Here’s the thing. When you have a cadré of wellness experts on hand, it’s easy to fix whatever is ailing you. But until Natalie introduced us to two of her go-to health gurus, we were at a loss.

Our friend Sharon, who happens to be a black belt in craniosacral therapy, would have sorted me out in no time, but she lives in Johannesburg. Not convenient, I’m just saying.

I hope you’re reading this Prince Pal!

I made an appointment to see Angie the biokineticist and learned that the pain in my leg was caused by discs in my back that were out of alignment.

Wait, what!?

After being initially terrified by her swift diagnosis, Sporty talked me off the ledge with a simple nugget of wisdom.

“At least now you know what the problem is,” she smiled sagely.

Natalie further allayed my fears by telling me Angie had helped her heal a herniated disc through exercise alone. Hearing this after my swimming coach had regaled me with stories of her own spinal woes, which had resulted in surgery, was a relief.

Do the Work to Aid It

I went back to Angie a week later and she gave me a set of exercises and stretches to aid my recovery. I’m normally really bad at sticking to these things, but because the issue is with my spine I’ve been scared into action.

Also, because I’m older and a little wiser than I used to be, I recognise the importance of taking care of my body. There’s still a lot I want us to do together and I can’t reasonably expect that to happen if I’m not mindful.

Before, if a therapist told me not to do something I would have more than likely done it anyway. I’ve always been a ‘run through the pain’ kind of person.

Aren’t most runners?

But now I can see the benefit —and enjoyment, even— of taking things a little easier every now and then. No longer am I solely about the endorphin-inducing activities, as fun as they are.

I’ve added yoga, Pilates and even swimming to my exercise regimen in an effort to give my body all the support it needs. I don’t think fifty is old, but I do need to focus on healthy aging if I want to keep it that way.

I swear, I think I’m actually growing up.

Patience, Persistence and Compassion

Probably the three most important benefits I’ve gained from this injury, aside from a newfound sense of respect and gratitude for my body, are patience, persistence and compassion.

Patience has never been my strong suit, but that’s definitely changing. I’m learning to just go with it, wherever it may lead me.

Persistence is another trait I’ve had to work hard at developing. I’m the instant gratification one marshmallow girl who wants everything now.

What I’ve learned is that results sometimes take a while to show themselves and if I quit after a couple of days, I’ll never get to enjoy them.

But by far my biggest lesson (and reward) from this leg pain (that isn’t actually leg pain) is that it’s helped me develop a sense of compassion for my body.

Onwards with Hero Training.

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2 Comments

  1. My husband injured his leg spring 2019 and took six months to recover, out of three months he was totally home bound.

    He was young at heart but his body was not, which was the cause of the injury by losing his mind in frisbee game at an office picnic.

    I really hope he, too, learned the important lesson just like Ang did.

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