Every now and then you get those moments that put things into perspective. You realise what matters and what simply doesn’t. This could be when you lose someone close to you, when you hear of something horrific happening on the other side of the world, or when you know someone who is going through a tough time. This can also be something that happens to you physically, like an injury.
Last week, my partner and I had planned a day trip to the snow, to go skiing, and we didn’t go. The reason for this came down to my inflated sense of invincibility. Two nights prior, I believed it was totally fine for me to push myself at the gym, giving 110% when I knew full well I was dealing with some vulnerabilities in my body. Right when I am in the midst of ongoing issues in my thighs, I thought it would be fine to do 30 box jumps, weighted squats and go for life on the treadmill. I hadn’t done proper box jumps in a few months and went straight for the highest box i could manage. After the session, I felt great! I had no pain, which meant I was to gain, right? Wrong.
The next night, the night before our planned day trip, I was succumb to some of the most excruciating muscle cramps I’ve ever experienced. I was a sobbing mess as I ate my dinner and was up every hour throughout the night with more muscle cramps and a steady flow of tears down my face. It was decided at around 2 o’clock in the morning that we wouldn’t be going to the snow the next morning, it just wasn’t worth it. My partner lovingly reassured me to not be apologetic about it, the priority was making sure I was okay.
The next morning, the muscle cramps continued over breakfast and I knew I had to see a professional to get it under control. Being a Saturday, I knew I had little chance of booking in with a physio at the last minute, but a clinic on the other side of town had a spot available. After this appointment, I felt a lot better and had some strategies moving forward. I was told to not do anything high intensity at the gym, basically nothing without a machine supporting me. I was also give a range of gentle exercises and stretches to manage the situation going forward.
Coming home from the physio I was sleep deprived, sore and also had a moment of great realisation. However many box jumps I can do, however much I can lift, however many kms I can ride my bike doesn’t mean anything if I’m too injured to prove it. And more importantly, who cares about how much you weigh, about a stomach poking out from a delicious meal shared with friends, about soft thighs, when you can move your body injury free. To be able to walk, run, jump, sit and stand are things we don’t think about everyday, and why would we? While often taken for granted, it truly is a joy to move our bodies in this way.
Having fitness goals and working hard is great, though as I learned they can also be your undoing. This small, non-catasrophic experience of having some muscle cramps overnight was certainly not the end of exercise for me. It was the start of being more gentle with myself and moving at a steady pace. Exercise has so many benefits and they can only be realised if we don’t overdo it.