The Gift of Injury
I recently attended a course in Sydney with Dr. Stuart McGill – a world leading low back pain expert from Canada.
Dr McGill has released a book “The Gift of Injury” in conjunction with a multiple record holding powerlifter Brian Carroll. The book details Brian’s recovery from injury.
Brian has held many records including squatting 1185 pounds (537.5 kg)! During the course of his career however he has sustained significant injuries. These include massive lumbar spine compression and a fractured sacrum.
The title of the book has really resonated with me. It is a reminder that through the pain and inconvenience of injury we must strive to look for the lessons.
Injuries can be immensely disrupting to our daily lives – just ask someone who has experienced a symptomatic lumbar disc injury. Simple movements that we once took for granted can be transformed into almost impossible agony. Getting in and out of the car or bed can become endurance events as our back muscles spasm. We may be required to take lengthy time off work or be unable to enjoy our usual daily activities.
During these times when it can seem that we may never recover it is helpful to pause and take stock of the messages from the injury.
World champion surfer Mick Fanning tore his hamstring off the bone in 2004 prior to winning 3 world championships. He often credits this period and the rehab protocol with changing his athleticism and professional approach to surfing.
With a little imagination injuries can be thought of as a reset – a time to take stock of our movement patterns, our stress levels, our nutrition approach.
- Where have we been cutting corners?
- Have we been doing too much or pushing too hard?
- What repetitive pattern of movement at work or at the gym may have contributed to the injury?
- When was the last time someone assessed our form? eg. lifting technique
- Have we been giving ourselves adequate recovery time?
- How is our sleep?
- How could we improve our diet?
- Should we consider nutritional supplementation?
- Would we benefit from strapping, bracing, foam rolling, or more regular treatment?
- What other areas of our life have we been neglecting?
- How is our mental approach?
When looked at from this perspective injuries are powerful tools. They are like corrections in the stock market – a short check before further growth. Oftentimes a chance to weed out and improve on approaches that may no longer be serving us.
So next time that you have an injury try to consider it as an opportunity to learn more about you.