What I've learnt from my injuries - Heal'r
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What I’ve learnt from my injuries

Written by Tanya Lee

I’ve had my fair share of injuries this year that I’m not particularly proud of. We all talked about moving on from 2020 and starting fresh in 2021, and for me I hope to leave all my injuries behind in 2020 as well. 

 

To give you a brief timeline of my injuries, at the end of 2019 I started running again to train for the upcoming triathlon season. A few weeks in I started developing pain along the inside border of my left tibia, which I started seeing my physiotherapist for. Because I was determined to still compete, I reduced my mileage and stuck to grass. I kept this up, however my pain only increased. I ignored these signs, and this mild pain developed into shin splints. Having my Type A personality, if I told myself I was going to run, I was definitely going to run. Rain, hail or shine, or even with shin splints, it had to be done. Over time my persistent running turned my shin splints into a stress fracture, which I still kept running on as I was totally unaware of the severity of my injury. I was 20 and thought my body was invincible, however it got to the point where it hurt to walk, I was hobbling after I ran, and the thought of jumping made me wince. 

 

After getting an MRI of my tibia, and being told I had a severe stress fracture, I finally stopped running. I was in an air cast (similar to a moon boot) for 4 weeks across summer, which was not the best look when going out! My physiotherapist was surprised to find my injury was as severe as it was, as I never indicated that it felt this bad – and this was partially because I didn’t want to admit that to myself and I thought my body was strong enough to push through the pain. 

 

Moving forward to February 2020 and I was allowed to start running again, however by July I started developing pain in the same location of my shin again, as well as a location a bit further above. Attributing this to tight calf muscles, I sought for temporary relief and opted for dry-needling and massage therapy. However this was short lived, and I was sent for another MRI. I was told that I had developed two stress fractures on my tibia. My previous grade 4 stress fracture had returned (meaning it was one grade below a fracture) and grade 3 stress fracture a few centimetres above it. After a blood test I discovered my vitamin D was so low that it was nearly at the level where people suffer rickets.  

 

In between all of this, at the start of Melbourne’s first lockdown in March, I got caught on the tram tracks riding on Swan Street in Richmond and fractured my wrist. Maybe my low vitamin D which predisposed me to this injury, or maybe it was just bad timing, but nonetheless I then spent 6 weeks in a cast. However after the 6 weeks my ligament still hadn’t reattached to my bone. One of the symptoms of low vitamin D is impaired wound healing, which would explain why it took 6 months to heal and not 6 weeks.  

 

It is now January, and I now have a fully healed wrist, and no stress fractures on my tibia. Four weeks ago I was given the all clear to start running again, and I can now do push ups again – even though I was told there was a 50% chance I’d be able to do them again. 

 

My injuries have taught me a lot about myself; how I perceive training and recovery, and managing my overall health. My low vitamin D was not the sole contributor to my stress fractures, but it was only one factor. Poor sleep, inadequate recovery and psychological stress were all contributing factors as to why I was predisposed to these injuries. I’ve learnt that you can be physically fit, however if you are not looking after yourself mentally, emotionally and spiritually, then you are only spinning your wheels. 

I now prioritise my sleep, make sure I’m outside everyday for vitamin D (as well as supplementing), practice mindfulness and I have integrated other lower intensity forms of exercise into my training such as yoga and pilates here at Heal’r. Your health journey should begin within, before you start adding new things. If your foundation is not solid then things begin to crumble and injuries occur. My injuries may have set me back in my training, but I have achieved remarkable growth from these experiences that I wouldn’t have gotten any other way. Injuries can teach us a lot about ourselves, and are often the catalyst to lead us on a journey to improve our mindset and approach to training.

 

 

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