How Do I Continue My Movement Practice With an Injury?
Maintaining a movement practice when you’re injured can be tricky because
injury and fear go hand in hand. Fear of pain, or re-injuring ourselves, can immobilize us. Choosing no movement has the potential to make our problem worse. Have you ever hurt your foot..start limping to avoid pain... and wind up with pain in another area of your body?
Yep, me too.
Avoiding discomfort, without an alternative, can spiral into the story that we’re 'falling apart' making us MORE afraid to move, and on it goes.
Of course, we never want to re-injure ourselves or worsen our current injury. But knowing what is safe movement isn’t usually part of the prescription for injuries. Docs will prescribe that we ‘stay off of that foot’, and tell us what we can’t do, but too often, they don’t give us any context for what that means for the rest of our body. “Am I bedridden? Can I hop on the other foot? Can I move the foot, but not put weight on it? What CAN I do?”
Injuries can cause us to mistrust our bodies, which is the opposite of what we need to heal.
Remember, our whole body is a system NOT an ankle or a shoulder. When we move our neck it speaks to our foot. We may not always FEEL it, but it’s true. Trusting our whole body system, in a culture that encourages ‘fixing’ is challenging to navigate.
When I broke my ankle last year I opted to move the ankle in ways that felt safe to me. I didn’t push through pain, I listened to the pain and knew that the soft tissue needed to gently move so that when the bone healed, the rest of my body wasn’t bound up. What I knew for sure, was that I wanted/needed to keep moving. I was lucky enough to have an Orthopedic surgeon who said “You teach Pilates, you know your body, do what feels right!!” Imagine if the whole medical system validated and encouraged us to be the expert over our bodies (but that’s for another blog).
There is ALWAYS a way to keep moving. First it’s crucial to acknowledge the fear around pain and honor the pain itself. This is true whether you’re injured or not. Pain is an amazing teacher (to be clear, I DO NOT mean 'NO pain no gain') But it can tell us how we need to move and where we need to practice stillness.
Building a movement practice based on YOUR body will always allow you to shift into different layers of the ever-evolving tools in your movement toolbox. You may not be able to bear weight on your legs (for instance) but you can lay down and bicycle your legs. You may not be able to lift your arms above your head, due to a shoulder injury, but you can go for a walk.
Listening to what our body needs, vs what society says our body needs, is a learned skill. If you don’t feel comfortable navigating movement through injury, find someone you trust to help you through that process. An actual movement expert will ask more questions instead of offer solutions because they understand that your experience is relative to YOU.
No one knows or cares about your body as you do and it can be so empowering to navigate the fear AND continue to practice healing and restorative movement.
Remember, there is always a way to move our bodies when we can turn our injuries into a part of our story rather than our WHOLE story.
If you're injured and aren't sure where to start, reach out and schedule a consultation and let's find movement that supports and heals your whole body, I'll help you move through the fear and fill up your movement toolbox. Click here and scroll down to schedule a private 15-minute chat!