lmost 18 years ago I injured my back so severely I was forced to give up playing soccer in a women’s league here in San Diego. I was never very good anyway but I loved the challenge of it and the comradery of being on a team with other women my own age. I was sad to say goodbye but I knew my doctor was right and in order to heal I needed to take my condition seriously.
I had injured my low back including 3 discs and my sacroiliac joint (s.i. joint) so playing a contact sport that included running, kicking and twisting was definitely NOT a good idea. I was told I would never be able to run or do any extreme sports again but I stubbornly refused to believe in the “never” prognosis and set a plan of healing and rehabilitation in motion. Very slowly.
After several years of strengthening at the gym, practicing and refining my work in yoga therapy, taking joint supporting supplements, getting deep tissue massage and chiropractic adjustments…I started walking with intermittent short periods of running. I bought a bike to use as cross training and was amazed at how well that balanced my increasingly intense walk/runs. My back felt better when I exercised than when I took a few days off.
I took my time and increased my stretching and various therapies as I increased the intensity of my workouts and within a year I was running 2-3 miles four times a week PAIN-FREE! Four years later I ran my first half marathon (13.1 miles) and a year after that I ran my second one. It took patience and intelligent listening to my body but most of all it took determination to overcome my injury instead of letting it define me.
I love running now so much that I don’t miss soccer at all. I have found a new comradery and exhiliration in running races and being outside with like-minded people of all ages in varying levels of conditioning. I focus mostly on 5Ks (3 miles) and 10Ks (6 miles) with one half marathon thrown in for a yearly challenge. At the end of June I’m walk/running an 8.2 mile race down in Coronado just for the fun of walking from Imperial Beach to Coronado on the lowest tide of the year.
I’m not a much better runner than I was a soccer player but I don’t care. I love being out there and proving to myself that my low back injury didn’t stop me from doing the things I love and being the person I most want to be.
I’ll be posting some of my clients’ inspiring rehabilitation stories and include suggestions on how you may be able to overcome a “never” prognosis of your own all this summer…so stay tuned!