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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Lessons from an injured back....

Last Wednesday, I threw my back out. I'm embarassed to admit it....but I did it....get this....doing TAI CHI.

Okay, okay, before you all throw up your hands and say "Well, there goes that idea out the window! I wanted to learn something that allows for self-reflection and relaxation and stuff, but she threw out her back!"

Yes...I know....its kind of like setting up a skiing lesson with someone, then learning later that he/she can't teach you your first lesson because they broke their leg on the slopes. Hahahaha!

But.....if anything has been learned from this, I'd like to share my findings with you, my friends and students.

  • Don't go full board into an activity you haven't done in a few weeks: Take your time warming up into it, then building up again. I hadn't gone to my Master's Taiji class because of having to make appointments or teach here at my studio because my assistant was out of town. When I did get to class, we happened to do class "backwards". The fast forms first (Old Frame 2, broadsword), Push Hands, then Old Frame 1. I was so excited to get "back into the groove" that I did too much, at too fast a speed.
  • Its amazing just how much of daily activities involve your back!: I went Downtown to the City Municipal Building the next day, not walking all that well from the pain in my back and hip, tried opening the big door and fell to the sidewalk as a sharp, stabbing pain overtook me. Lucky for me, a gentleman was just coming out as I opened the door....he picked me up, asking "Oh my God, are you okay, Ma'am?". He even pushed on the revolving door for me so I didn't have to push it myself. Thank you, dear gentleman! Driving the car was painful, sitting was painful. I couldn't even lift my leg to kick or punch. Breathing.....breathing hurt too, believe it or not.
  • Don't be afraid of asking your support team for help....don't let pride or self reliance prevent your healing:  I've always liked to demonstrate martial arts techniques on my own, and to get right into the middle of the class and correct people as they practiced......and I wasn't able to do that. If I dropped something, I couldn't pick it up. I took a deep breath (as painful as it was!) and asked my students "Can you get that for me?", "John, please demonstrate the proper stance in move 12", "Andrew, please lead warmups", "Class, please team up with a high ranked partner and practice together, high ranks, please coach your juniors". Granted, this is really how a good martial arts studio should be ran, but as much as I ask the help of my assistants, I love to move and work myself! It was hard to be reliant on others during my injury.
  • If people offer to assist you, accept the generosity graciously! What do you often hear when someone asks someone else "Need a hand with that?".   You might hear "No, thank you, I got it". I've found that people will usually ask you if they can help *because they WANT to*. Its an honor to have someone offer their time and assistance. Accept the assistance and pay it forward later.
  • Listen to your body and your intuition: As I grow older, I realize that I don't bounce back after workouts or injuries as fast as I did when I was 20 years old. As this realization reminds me of my aching joints and muscles, I see I must listen to my body. The "No pain, no gain" adage needs to take a hike now. There are jumps and kicks my intuition tells me "NOT" to do, and I've ditched my intuition many times as of late, and have paid the price. This back injury was the Universe's way of telling me to SLOW DOWN.
  • It takes a village..... Just as it "takes a village" to raise a child, it takes a village to grow up responsibly and healthily, and to grow older as well. Just as I mentioned a few paragraphs back, don't be afraid to enlist your "village". It doesn't mean you are means you are smart.
Well, my back is doing a little better now, 6 days later....but I know the pain and muscle guarding has referred into my neck. Whatever I've done in the past few months to contribute to throwing my back out and with neck pain/migraines, I'm going to have to figure out what it is and be consistent in my wellness options. I have a great team of students, friends, chiropractor, massage therapist, acupuncturist, etc that I know are on my side, and it feels good to know that I have a support team. My hope, is that I too, become (or are already) a part of other people's support teams!

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