Pain is exhausting.
Injuries (and chronic pain) can be one of the most discouraging barriers in our fitness journeys.
As a sufferer of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, I spent MANY years fighting against my pain and treating my injuries like opponents. Oddly enough, it never made me feel better or more empowered; it made me feel worse. It wasn't until I realized that there are MANY ways we can be creative with our workouts and MANY creative solutions we can build around our pain when we have the proper tools. It's all about re-framing and changing our perspective and, therefore, our actions.
Here are the first steps in re-framing your pain:
1) Develop thorough body awareness, and BE SPECIFIC. Ask yourself, “if I were to describe my pain to someone else (a doctor, trainer, a friend, etc.) and paint the clearest, most objective picture possible, how would I describe it?” This includes only objective details like WHERE is your pain, what is the QUALITY of the pain, HOW LONG have you had the pain, and what are the TRIGGERS?
2) Practice radical acceptance. Using the data you have collected about your pain, think about your current “limitations.” We always want to assume that our pain will improve, BUT in the worst case scenario where the pain DOESN’T improve, what would be your true limitations and alternate options (hint: you will probably discover that you have WAY more options than you’re acknowledging)?
3) Flip the script. Expand on the above exercise. Come up with a menu of the things you CAN do. For example, if you have chronic knee issues, maybe standard squats aren’t the best option for you right now. There are hundreds of other exercises you can do. Turn the “I can’t do this” into “I can do all of these things instead!”
4) Be proactive. Do something each day to directly address the pain. Work with a professional who can help you if you aren’t sure where to start (Saturday’s 12:15pm Zoom call will address this subject head-on!). This includes stability work, mobility exercises, and general movement. Ten minutes per day is enough, just be proactive and take daily action.
Most importantly, remember that there is ALWAYS something you can do. Pain is real, and perception is a huge piece of pain management. Take control of your mindset, take control of your actions, and you can work WITH your pain to develop creative solutions and a strong body.