In a few days time, a full year will have passed since I fell from my bike and dislocated my shoulder on a short training trip in Belgium. The following months were awful: I had chronic pain and rather than heal, my shoulder got worse. Eventually I was told that I had frozen shoulder. It was affecting everything. No matter how close I held my shoulder to my body, running led to shoulder pain so I had to stop. Cycling and swimming were out of the question. I couldn’t even drive. I was saved by a shoulder operation to break away the scar tissue that had formed inside my joint, preventing it from moving. Then I had to deal with weeks on end of real, chronic pain and physiotherapy. But I was determined to get better and to keep as much of the range in my shoulder joint as possible. That meant persevering with the painful, daily exercises.
The operation was in January this year. Since then, I did lots of training and participated in three triathlons, two of them Olympic-distance. I probably reached the fittest I had ever been. I recall saying the exact same thing just after I dislocated my shoulder and feeling utterly distressed because of all the fitness I would lose for lack of continuity in training. It’s different now. I’ve had a knee injury since the beginning of August and a shin splint just wanting to make a guest appearance on the Nadia show. Both of them have meant that I had to become very conservative in my training and when that didn’t make them go away, I stopped running, cycling and any gym-related work that put pressure/stress on my knee.
Now, that shoulder that kept me from doing anything at all not so long ago is one of the few things that’s allowing me to keep active.
The world turns, things change, but we find ways.
I’m learning that we have to do things wrong in order to figure out how to do them right. I’m still not entirely sure why I got this knee injury. One very plausible explanation is that I simply should have bought new running shoes. That’s a lesson learned. I will now always make sure that I’m running on shoes that have a good amount of cushioning in them.
I’ve also been told by my physiotherapist that my left glute is weak. That is something I never would have imagined. I’ve been doing squats and lunges for years. And I always focus on making the glutes do the work. Even so, and now that I’ve been told and have started doing more specific glute activating and training exercises, I’m now recognizing that the right glute does all the work together with other muscles in my left leg. That must explain why the only leg injuries I get are in my left leg.
So now I’m out of commission. I don’t run, I don’t cycle and I’ve stopped all squats and lunges to allow an overused knee tendon or a slightly inflamed knee cartilage to properly heal.
And so I swim. One year after my shoulder dislocation, it’s my shoulder that I can depend on. And that gives me hope that all I need to do is focus and keep being smart and vigilant about how I address injuries and what I do to prevent them in the future and soon I’ll be back on track.