My Struggle to Rest and Recover

Hey Friends, Jess here.

Lately I’ve been recovering from a lower back injury. By lately I mean for the past FIVE months. There is nothing as frustrating for a Crossfitter than injury. More on that in a past post here. As crossfitters, we generally have a healthy dissatisfaction with status quo, we have a certain restlessness that urges us to continue when things get tough. Injury challenges the things we hold dear and forces us to face the fact that we are not invincible.

Throughout this whole ordeal, one of the most vital things I’ve learned is the importance of rest and recovery for any serious athlete. Sounds pretty simple and obvious doesn’t it? Duh. …. Well if you’re anything like me, you’re stubborn. I don’t stop. Growing up in the stable and riding show-jumpers professionally in my late teens and early twenties meant that I grew up in a culture where being tough and pushing through pain or hardship was encouraged. I remember a huge sign above the tack room that read “No Pain, No Gain” and another one that said “No Guts, No Glory”. Looking back, I probably took these mantras too literally. I was always the kid who would try anything. If I couldn’t do something, I would practise it for 10 hours straight until I did it at least once, even by chance. I’ve always been referred to as “Stubborn” and “Obsessed”, with the nicer versions always being “Determined” and “Passionate”.  Admittedly, I probably fall into all these categories in one way or another in many aspects of my life. One thing I know for sure, when I want something, I go get it.

I have been so fortunate to have such incredible coaches at our gym. Amongst the thousands of newly acquired skills, they’ve taught me the importance of technique work, how to pace a WOD, how to fuel my body, and how to build workouts. The hardest lesson I’ve had to learn is the importance of rest and recovery. These last couple months I’ve had to drop out of two Crossfit competitions and drastically cut back on my time in the gym.  No longer am I hanging out with Hil at the gym 6 days a week. I’m there 3 times, maximum. Mostly stretching, on the exercise bike and working on strict movements. No weights. This is the toughest part of recovery. Not taking part.

So here I am. Resting. Recovering. Healing my body and trying not to have a pity party. Today I saw the chiropractor, who says I should be ship shape in about 2 months. My initial injury happened 5 months ago, so to me these words came as a relief. I really want to believe this chiropractor, this time. I’ve seen 5 specialists so far, tried every technique there is an even had X-rays to rule out fracture. I’m determined to get off the rollercoaster of injury, recovery, re-injury, recovery, re-injury that I seem to be strapped to. I sleep at least 8 hours every night and stick to a very low impact set of exercises and mobility at the gym. I’ve lost a lot of conditioning, but I’ve gotten over the initial “my muscles are shrinking!” mania that used to consume me.

If you’re reading this and also recovering from an injury, take heart that you will get better. No, it won’t happen over night and you’re going to have to work on it. You’re going to lose some strength and conditioning throughout the recovery process but hey, that just means gains in the future! Treat your body like the temple that it is. Stop being so hard on yourself. Rest. Recover. Rebound.

Looking for ideas on active recovery? Stay tuned for a future post.

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