So you may remember last November (that rhymed) when I had my shoulder surgery.
I had acutely injured it during a workout, went to an orthopedic surgeon, had an MRI, was diagnosed with a “torn labrum” and then had surgery to repair it only wake up from surgery with my surgeon standing over me saying “turns out your labrum wasn’t torn, but we cleaned it up good! Could have turned into something worse”. Meanwhile, I came out of pocket about 1,200 bucks to have my shoulder scrubbed with micro tools and then was left with three awesome bump scars. Hard to complain now when my shoulder is literally perfect, but I wonder what would have happened if I had just taken some time off and rehabbed it. Anyway.
I say all of that to make the point that, I’ve learned my lesson when it comes to pushing too hard and not listening to my body. I don’t want to be stupid and incur an injury out of a stubborn lack of control to reign in a workout or give myself rest. So it’s surprised me to realize that it took me 6 weeks to finally say “Uncle” with my current lower back/SI joint pain. I believe I really aggravated this area doing heavy dead lifts with improper form (my fault letting my back round on the higher weight) about 6 weeks ago and the residual discomfort in the first few weeks was moderately unnoticeable because, well, lots of things ache sometimes when you Crossfit 4-5 times a week and sit at a computer 8 hours a day. And aside from my few “problem” areas (everyone has them, my left hip is the WORST), I don’t pay much attention to any nagging pain or whatever from my good parts.
So, it took me awhile to realize that…this wasn’t going away and it was starting to actually interfere with my lifts. Deadlifts have come up 3 or 4 times for strength in the last 4 weeks and every single session, I was literally unable to hit my prescribed percentages. And even working well below them, I was in actual pain during the lifts. Not even my deadlift socks were giving me any power! The moment I knew something was really off was during a 1RM build. Back in February, I had established a 295 1RM. So, being June, I was excited to see what I could pick up and how far I had progressed in 4 months. I mean, I had added BBOLC programming to my schedule each week, surely I was going to see fruits of my gross sweaty labor!
I BARELY got 295 off the ground. Hm. I crinkled my nose and looked at the bar. I’ll add 2.5s on each side, get my 300PR and call it a day. Well, the 300 pound bar didn’t come off the ground and I knew I had to figure this out.
So I took 5 days off one week. Pain every day. I rolled, I writhed on the ground, stretched, applied ice. Heat. Ice and Heat. I ate carbs. I went to the chiropractor. My right sacrum and lower back were out a bit, so he put it back in. I had some relief for a short while (like 24 hours). I took anti-inflammatories, I scoured the internet for piriformis muscle stretches and did them. I complained to Rob, to my friend Kim, to my animals. I worried. I scaled workouts. I laid on the floor of my office twisting about trying to find relief. Some days it would be very acute, where even holding anything out in front of me hurt. Like putting a crock pot onto a table or something. Then other days, it would only be tender when I would tilt my hips forward a certain way or lean back and compress my lower spine.
So finally, I made the decision to abstain from any deadlifting for at least a month (I made that decision this week). For a beefy girl like me, that’s literally soul crushing. I’ll also not snatch anything over 70 pounds. It’s just too strenuous. And today, I went to see a fellow crossfitter massage therapist who I prayed could give me some relief. Her name is Cynthia, and she’s been at CFHSV two years and she’s been a massage therapist for 8. She works on our coaches and some of our athletes when she’s not at her day job at a local spa where she’s helping people relax and forget about work or kids or whatever bugs normal people instead of SI joint pain. I hadn’t actually even met her when someone suggested I pay her a visit, but we did wind up making it to the same class on Monday night after I had already booked an appointment with her. Funny to “meet’ someone after you already make plans to see them a few days later! So today I showed up at her house practically foaming at the mouth to have her work on me. And in that hour she literally carved me up like a Thanksgiving turkey. (In the best way possible). And we laughed and talked and got to know each other the entire time.
I have such an appreciation and deep respect for a massage therapist’s craft. Well, anyone that can heal with their touch. What an awesome power that is! She really focused on my right sacrum and lower back the majority of the time, but did manage to get to all of the other parts too, which felt amazing. After heavy over head squats yesterday, everything she did was a welcome relief. So, Cynthia, if you read this, THANK YOU! You are marvelous at what you do and I will be back! AND I can say that my right lower back does NOT hurt at all right now. It’s warm and relaxed and I’m looking forward to waking up tomorrow and attempting to put on pants (that will be the real test).
To anyone else that may read this and have their own method of suffering and self “medicating”, what do you do? Where is your limit, how do you keep yourself in check, and what best practices have you found to soothe what’s hurting? I have two foam rollers that I use constantly. What’s in your house that helps with mobility and flexibility? What supplements do you take? Just curious to know what all you Crossfit witch doctors do for yourselves that keeps you coming back into the box ready for more.