The Beautiful Power of 6 Weeks of Recovery

It’s been 2 months since I woke up unable to lower my arm.

All the restorative yoga that I teach, all the perfectly aligned fitness workouts that I’ve filmed… but doing all the right things can’t save us from every injury and apparently sleeping wrong was all it took to leave me spazzy, crying and incapacitated. Oh how I wish I could cue my own sleep positioning better! 

Don’t worry, though. I’m in good hands. After a solid six weeks of rest, recovery and radical self-care after the initial onset of spasms and tingling, and I’m 60% back to “normal.”

It’s magical, that classic 6-week window that is given to injured athletes and recovering postpartum women. We’re told to “take it easy” – not because we are weak or broken for good, but because our bodies have been through something that requires restoration and rest.

But how often do we ignore it until we can’t anymore because our bodies force us to rest?

After my first baby, I only waited a few weeks before resuming planks and crunches because that’s all I knew for core strengthening at the time, even as a “fitness pro” who had a degree and umpteen certifications. I didn’t know that resuming too early, with too much pressure, with muscles that were still in a healing phase and not yet ready to handle micro-tearing and hypertrophy (because they were already torn and swollen, really) would set me back and merely prolong the minimum 6 weeks of rehab that are essential to every woman who’s just experienced the epic marathon of labor and birth.

It’s always needed.

We can put it off, but the longer we wait, the older we are and the harder that 6 weeks becomes.

In terms of my core, I finally found time to truly take care of it when my 2nd child was over age 2 years old. That’s when I discovered ab rehab with The Tummy Team.

In terms of my neck-arm-shoulder issue, well — thanks to traveling, being 600 miles from home, driving an RV, and singing in a family wedding — I was almost 3 weeks into pushing through excruciating nerve pain and numbness down my left arm before I was home and fully able to rest and get the help I needed.

Some of you might be worried that I’ve really been dealing with a heart attack since it’s my left arm. Yes, heart disease is the #1 killer of women with suicide among young mothers a close second, but that was thankfully ruled out. You’d be amazed how such pain can affect O-sat numbers though… My pulse-ox was a 95 when I was first seen by a rural urgent care clinic!

Know what’s super frustrating?

I’ve taken care of my neck! I’ve done all the things for all my life as part of routine self-care and maintenance: chiropractic, neck alignment work, stretches, low-impact exercise… but the docs are saying, “Can you imagine if you hadn’t done all that?”

I’ve been called a walking miracle. Thanks to an MRI, my team of care professionals now knows that I’m actually dealing with a herniated disc. We know that it’s likely been this way for a while without my knowing, because the early symptoms felt like a “rib out” or “sore shoulder muscles.”

We know that all my self-care enable me to keep an awesome range of motion when most people with this injury lose their ability to move.

We know that if this happened when I was a child {I remember my second grade year was epically full of falls and trauma} and if these symptoms had reared their ugliness 10 years ago, forcing me into surgery back then, I’d have all sorts of hardware in my neck that would have dramatically altered my life’s course… Fit2B might not even exist!

We know I need surgery now for sure, but it will be a 1-hour outpatient procedure to replace the disc with a mobile unit “Mobi-C” minus any screws, whereas this would likely have been a fusion surgery even 7 years ago.

We know that my neck exercises, the physical therapy I’ve pursued, and the deep squatting I do (as opposed to always bending over) have kept my neck muscles healthier and stronger than anyone else they’ve seen with my level of herniation.

We do our best and we take care of ourselves, and then our bodies force us to do even better. I’ll be forced to baby my neck for another 6 weeks after surgery, and I’m honestly excited.

I’m excited to practice the basics of alignment again.

I’m excited to rebuild my neck strength in a new way.

I’m excited to pass on what I’ll learn from this experience.

I’m excited to avoid housework by pointing at my neck brace and shrugging 🙂

So, yeah, it’s time to take 6 weeks to rest, nourish, rebuild, recover, tune in, process, discover, rehab, and let others take care of us just for a while. It’s time to give back to our bodies after we (and maybe the baby growing inside) have asked so much of this shell that houses our vibrant souls.

And it can be glorious.

I mean, aside from having the best excuse EVER to elevate my feet and binge-watch Netflix, I’ve fallen more in love with my family and discovered a depth to certain friendships I didn’t know existed. My tribe has shown up, and I feel loved.

If you are feeling run down, friend…
If you have just had a baby, mama…
If you’re hurting so bad you can barely move, sister…
You need to consider 6 weeks of rest and rehab.

Oh, it won’t be easy. You’ll have to advocate for your care, call around for the right PT or Physio, get to those appointments, do your exercise homework, drink all the water and take all the pills, maybe hire a sitter or “mommy’s helper” or just let go of your own judgements about letting the TV occupy the kids for this short season.

You’re worth it. If your child or friend was the one needing this, you’d do everything in your power. Right now, though, you’re the one missing some power. You’re the one who needs to ALLOW OTHERS TO HELP and allow yourself this.

Let’s do this together, friend. Let’s take care of ourselves and keep ourselves moving so we don’t lose our range of motion, so we are good candidates for less invasive procedures as we age, so we can do more for those around us in this wild, crazy world.

Back to You

Tell me: If you know what I’m talking about, and if you’ve ever experienced the 6 weeks of magical rest and know how it helped you, please leave a comment below


5 thoughts on “The Beautiful Power of 6 Weeks of Recovery

  1. Lori Leighty Mason says:

    My husband and I took on a challenge to run three half marathons to complete a Mad-Halfer series. Three weeks before the first race, I took a bad fall during a training run and severely sprained my ankle. I rested and fretted about the first race because I could no longer train for it. I hobbled and cried through that race because I didn’t want to waste my money and lose my Mad-Halfer medal. Silly, I know. More rest and therapy and doctor assuring me that this kind of injury just takes time. Today marks the 6th week from fall. I’m mostly pain free. Probably would be had I rested and not attempted 13 miles. When you lose the ability to do something you enjoy, it’s hard to be still. I found myself in bad moods and depressed and even angry at myself for “allowing myself to fall”. So when your blog post is titled “the beautiful power of 6 weeks….” it tugged at my heart. Thanks for reminding me that it’s ok to rest. And to take care of me.

    • Beth Learn says:

      I’m so glad you took the time to recover. I know I’ll come out the other side of this even more firm and solid in my core’s foundation. Then I’ll build on that to get stronger than ever. It’s an awesome perspective shift.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I’m REALLY curious now about sleeping positions. I was rear ended five months ago and still after adjustments and rehab exercises and reading and learning about alignment and trigger point massage, still not better. And I’ve been having this sneaking suspicion that my sleep positions might be part of the key to recovery. I just don’t know where to start or who to get good information from. Your post made me cry, all these appointments I’ve been keeping up with for five months to take care of myself – yup, it’s been HARD. And I’m not sure I’m getting anywhere.

    • Beth Learn says:

      I’d definitely recommend an MRI if you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere. I wish I’d had one years ago. Sleeping positions are huge, but it’s so hard to train ourselves. Pain is a good motivator, isn’t it?

  3. Alicia says:

    I have not experienced any major injuries, but I have had lots of babies. With my first baby, my midwife REALLY emphasized rest for the first few weeks and a slow return to normal activity over 6 weeks. My recovery was amazing! I did not have the same care/support/oversight with my 2nd baby. I caved to family and friend pressure to be up and about and going to weddings, the zoo, etc within the first three weeks. That recovery took forever! I really didn’t feel better for about 8-10 weeks! I learned my lesson, and have taken it super easy during the postpartum period each time since then. Your advice in this post is on point!

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