I did a strength finders test a few years ago to help me gain some perspective and direction in my life. One of my strengths is ‘achiever’ this means that I like to have goals. They can be as small as ticking off boxes on a to-do list for the day or bigger more life changing ones. Making lists and ticking boxes is something I do well. If I am given a training session to do, I will typically do everything I can to make sure I get it done and sometimes, if I can, I try to do it before the due date!
Luckily, my swim coach seems to know this about me and I only get the sessions on a weekly basis. This works well allowing me to pace myself on an already gruelling schedule. I only have 3 pool sessions a week, but it is difficult for me to fit all three sessions in between gym, Pilates and work. Each pool session is at least 2 hours long and so I usually have to split one of the sessions into 2 and find an extra hour in my week to fit that in. Recently, I have done only bits of each session and tried to play catch up on the weekends. Part of the reason for this ‘catch up’ is my elbow injury. I had a scan recently which confirmed that I had tendinosis of the flexor tendons in the elbow- also known as ‘golfers elbow’ (even though I have never played golf!). Tendinosis is typically treated with a period of rest to allow for the inflammation to settle and then specific eccentric exercises.
My elbow responds well to some level of exercise and lots of rest. Unfortunately the nature of my job is such that I do not have the luxury of much rest (being a ‘hands on’ physiotherapist takes its toll on the body) and so something has to give. I don’t want it to be training but work pays the bills and training probably aggravates it the most.
I felt great on Monday and managed an 8km pool session (probably my second ever) my times were faster than they have been all year and I was shattered, but very happy when I got out the water. Sadly, by the afternoon, my elbow was not so happy. I have had to cut right down on the rest of the sessions for the week.
I have worked hard at trying to treat my elbow through the right channels and try to find the balance between rest and exercise and I have probably pushed it too hard in the wrong direction this week, forcing me to reassess my training schedule going forward. It is a really tough line to try and figure out the right balance and despite a decade of experience as a physio and a lifetime as an athlete, I have yet to figure out the best management for this type of injury.
I shall continue to try my best
For now, I shall continue to try my best to get the best of both worlds, by ticking boxes and listening to my body. My coach has always told me to listen to my body and only recently have I really valued and acknowledged the truth in this statement. Our bodies are a precious commodity that only we can control and look after (barring sickness and disease) I would like to maintain mine as best as I can so that I can still enjoy an active life in my 80’s. It is never too late to try and change or break bad habits and learn new ways. I just need to change my check list a little to allow myself to listen and respond to what my body is telling me.