This Type of Fighting Holds You Back

Have you ever had days where you feel like your body is working against you?

Despite your best efforts at overcoming the aching, pain, or stiffness, these things just keep showing up like an unwanted solicitor knocking on your front door.

So, one day, you just decide enough is enough. “Damn it, I’m running today. I’ve had enough of this stuff and if my knees hurt, well that’s just too damn bad ‘cuz I gotta’ run” and out the door you go.

Of course, the result is rarely good. Now, your knees hurt more than they did before the run which then forces you out of the running shoes again.

And the cycle continues. A battle against yourself.

I get it. I really do. Several years ago, I fell while dunking a basketball and fractured my lower lumbar spine. I don’t know if you’ve ever broken a bone but it hurts a lot. Tons of nerve endings in bone.

I couldn’t roll over in bed, couldn’t bend over, or do much of anything without a serious amount of pain.

But it didn’t stop me from running.

Oh, sure, it hurt. A lot. And I ran a few times before my wife, Ellen, busted me. She asked me why I was running and I then realized I was running for all of the wrong reasons so I stopped and got on a better path to heal my busted up body.

While I’m walking with our pups, thoughts or images appear in my mind from time to time. And one day this one showed up, “You will never win the fight against yourself.”

Sting said in a song, “If you love somebody, set them free.”  I decided to stop fighting. If I feel tired, I respect it. Accept it. Even honor it. After all, it’s me. If I’m injured, hurting, I accept where I am and work with what I have to get better. It’s still hard to do but fighting doesn’t help the situation at all. Fighting myself, being angry at myself, being frustrated with myself are all rate-limiting choices.

When you’re injured, hurt, or have had surgery, you have to stop fighting yourself about what you can’t do or how long your recovery is taking. It’s always longer than you want.

How do you know if you’re fighting yourself?  It’s all around you. It’s doing things that you know will hurt you, make your knee swell, or your back hurt but you do them any way and then discover you’re not any better. Like me choosing to run with a fracture (and that seems quite ludicrous now that I’ve written it). All that just happened was you went ten rounds with yourself and lost.

I’m not suggesting you become a sloth or just resign yourself to life of less or not push yourself. No. To come back from an injury, you must fight. But, the fight is to overcome your limitations by honoring where you are, what you have, and what you can do now. Bring your fight to that war.

Fight the right fight.


Doug Kelsey, PT, PhD  writes about “active aging” –  how to overcome aches & pains, get strong, flexible, agile and stay as healthy and fit as possible over your lifetime. If you enjoyed this article, join his free newsletter.

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