Lynda is one of our sports massage therapists and 4th Dan black belt in Taekwondo. After suffering an injury, she decided to document her road to recovery. 
“A major part of my work with clients is explaining the significance of the glutes in stabilising the pelvis and how, if the glutes aren't activated quickly enough, the hamstrings will step in to do the job. While practising martial arts, I had the opportunity and misfortune to see this in action when my left hip dislocated. 

How did it happen? 

In the middle of a reverse twisting kick, my right foot was spinning in the air above my head while my left foot was supposed to pivot on the floor but it didn’t. My conscious brain skilfully divided into two halves as this was happening! One half was screaming that this hurt and a ‘Very Bad Thing’ was happening. The other half was marvelling at the spasm that shot like a bullet from the top to the bottom of my left hamstring as it did its best to stabilise my pelvis now that my hip was no longer in its socket. 
Now, instead of just going to my Fire & Earth therapist for routine maintenance, I am an injured client in need of treatment. A client who is experiencing what it's like to take your own medicine; some of you will no doubt find this amusing! And for three weeks, I was on a strict rest regimen of no training, no coaching, and only gentle stretching, which has been, to put it gently, a challenge. 

Weeks 1-3: feeling vulnerable and frustrated 

In a typical week, I teach three Taekwon-Do classes. 
Trying to instruct a difficult martial art without physically participating seems impossible. I've been going through twice-weekly treatments for three weeks now, and they've been uncomfortable at times. It's not fun to get an elbow in your quad attachments (right up in your groin). I have had pain, limited mobility, and trouble walking for the past three weeks. 
More than that, I've been feeling extremely vulnerable. I fell a few days following the dislocation. I lost my footing and went face-first onto the pavement after tripping over a kerb. Since I was so worried that my hip would pop out again, a series of obscenities came out of my mouth, and the fall seemed to last a lifetime. It wasn't a good time. 
When I was a teenager, my dad taught me self-defence techniques, and 16 years and many hours of elite training later, I have the rank of 4th Dan black belt. I am who I am because training and coaching have occupied such a significant portion of my life for so long. 
And now I'm forced to watch from the sidelines. 
I fear that I will never be able to regain my previous proficiency. This could mean the end of high-risk kicking with a lot of torque. It's going to be tough, so I'll have to be extra good and listen to my therapist's instructions. 
For the first time, I can empathise with my patients when I discuss their therapy options. All the apprehension, anger, and need to go back to the game immediately. Nonetheless, I have support, just like my clients do. My therapist believes in me and promises me that I will recover fully. He has given me a lot of helpful suggestions and a detailed action plan. 
And I'm going to bring you along on my travels. 

Dealing with an injury: weeks 4-5 – getting my head in gear! 

I've been getting two massages a week. The hard work that Harry has put into resetting my muscles has been a real help to my ability to cope with the pain. I hate taking pills, so anything that can keep me from having to do that is helpful. Pain has lessened over time, and while it’s still present and a constant reminder of my mistakes, I can now live with it. 

Slow and steady heals the best 

My strategy for making a full physical recovery is already in motion. However, nobody ever talks about the toll that physical harm can take on your mental health. That's something I was completely unaware of. I wrote about feeling vulnerable, but it's also made me feel extremely down. I've struggled to sleep. I've felt very emotional. Overall, I've felt like I'm of less value, less importance. Not once have I felt like my usual self. 
Now that I've made some progress, I'm starting to feel better. After being told to refrain from doing any physical activity for a week, I was finally given permission to perform some mobility drills last week. Even though it was only pelvic tilts, I felt like I had made great progress. This week I've moved on to single-leg variations of the bridge exercise I've been using to activate and strengthen my glutes. Again, not much, but far superior to the dreaded 'total rest'. 

Thinking positive makes for a better mindset 

When I thought about the words I was using to describe my injury, I realised they were becoming increasingly negative. After finding myself saying things like "I can't," "I'm not allowed," and "it's so irritating," I tried to alter my language and mindset. Looking at the positives, it's a great chance to get back into my regular stretching routine; it will help me empathise with my clients' injuries; it will provide my black belts with an opportunity to hone their teaching skills, and it's forced me to become clearer in my verbal instructions as I can’t physically show them. 
I am feeling more optimistic too. I'll progress from doing single-leg bridges to RDLs which is an achievement. I can do a small amount of cardio when the strengthening work has worked. Even if it's just for 10 minutes at half the warm-up pace to start, it will give me a purpose to go to the gym and add to the strengthening activities and stretching I already do. 
Since my hip dislocated, I haven't been able to go to the gym. It was depressing to look around and watch people working out and sweating while I was unable to do so myself. But now that I have a strategy in mind on how to get into shape, I can't wait to get started. While this isn't the same workout plan I was on before, it’s still a step in the right direction. 

Eight weeks later – noticing the difference 

This last week, I've felt a great improvement in the condition of my hip. It's getting a lot better since there are times when I completely forget about it. My glutes and hamstrings always remind me to take it easy and let my body heal whenever I try to rush up the stairs or jump over something (usually my dog!). 
I can do everyday things like going for a walk, driving, moving around, without fear and, although I still feel discomfort, the pain has all but gone. Instead of pain, I feel my muscles’ tiredness - they ache at the end of the day, but that means I’m using them, so they must be beginning to work properly again. 
There is still some instability in my hip, and my balance isn't where it should be when I'm standing on that leg, but I'm trying not to push myself too quickly so that the muscle has a chance to strengthen and heal. 
Additionally, I have time to practise Taekwondo. To be clear, this is a modified version. As of right now, I can't go around kicking, especially without proper care, so I have to take my time. But it's nice to put on my dobok and do some stretching and mobility drills with the rest of the class, and to work on my hand techniques. 
I have to be wary of the pivoting and twisting, and this is where the most modification is. Once I get the all-clear to start training properly, I’ll reteach my body to perform the moves safely and correctly. This will help my technique but also prepare me mentally to feel physically safe and be able to train. 
Harry and I have previously discussed the mental aspects of my recovery; I expressed concern that I would develop a phobia of performing the kick that led to this accident out of fear that I would suffer another dislocation if I did so. He promises me that I'll emerge from this ordeal even stronger than before, making a recurrence much less likely. 
If I stick to the treatment regimen, of course! 
Now that I know what I'm capable of, I have to remind myself not to get overconfident or to push myself too hard. 
Even if I'm feeling better, I mustn't forget that I'm still recovering from a major injury. One of the pillars of Taekwondo, the martial artist's moral code, is "self-control," and right now, I feel like I'm putting that into practice.” 
Get in touch with any questions or feedback you might have about my experience or your own. 
Tagged as: injury, recovery
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