Read Google ads or get on Twitter, and you will be promised lifelong health, bones that never degenerate or hurt again, and a body that will remain perfect once you take five pills and jump through ten hoops! I hate to break it to you, but that’s so NOT true! I was reminded of this brutal truth yesterday when I woke up with a compressed disc in my spine. But I’m 31, healthy, fit and strong!!!
I teach yoga, pilates and cycling a couple times a week, I exercise at home. I dragon boat. I feed my kids healthy and try to walk the talk. So how did this happen? I called my husband home from work early and headed to a fabulous chiropractor, Dr. Susan Hirsch, to find out.
I was worried that I might have done something wrong during yoga, not only injuring myself but also my participants. But she assured me that my yoga and pilates have probably been bracing an injury waiting to happen. If it wasn’t for my regular exercise routine, she said, the injury would have completed itself a long time ago.
She put a pen on her desk and bumped it, nudging it closer and closer to the edge while she talked to me. grilled me about what I do, how I live outside of yoga: what kind of pillows I sleep on (a stack of three), how old and active my kids are (very active 2yo & 5yo), how I sit at my computer (slouched on the couch with my laptop in my lap) … oh and I’m still nursing that 2yo at night.
I thought she was just fiddling with the pen until suddenly it dropped to the floor. “See?” She said, “The pen didn’t fall all at once. This didn’t happen to you all at once. This happened because you’ve been doing a lot of little things that kept nudging you toward this injury.” She’s right. .
Let me tell you, being a flexible yoga instructor who suddenly cannot move has been super hard for my mental and emotional health. It’s made me think about all the things I’ve taken for granted. Just because I could go for a jog and touch my toes on Sunday didn’t mean I could do those things on Monday. I didn’t get in a wreck. I didn’t do a pretzel pose. I didn’t do anything way out of the ordinary! I
But I’ve had two children. I’ve been pregnant and nursing for 6 years straight! I’ve been dragon boating, sleeping funny, sitting funny (okay and eating a little funny, too) for a long time. I was using yoga and diet like a bandaid over small injuries. Actually, it’s more truthful to say I was leaning too much on the crutches of yoga and pilates and healthy eating, hoping to get away with ignoring all my other issues.
I like sleeping on lots of pillows. I hate sitting at a desk. But I also despise pain. Fitness only buys time. It’s not a permanent fix, so last night I used just one pillow. I am sitting upright as I write this. Studies show that active people postpone the effects of aging, but exercise and diet are not a permanent fountain of youth.
The pen will fall of the table for all of us. Some of us will heal. Some of us won’t. Take a hard look at your life habits. Not just the big, important habits but also the little ones. It’s the difference between nudging yourself off the edge slower versus faster. What’s it gonna be? How close to the edge of injury are you?