As an Osteopath, understanding an injury is the key - we ask endless questions to grasp the details of where it hurts, what it feels like and how it happened. But nothing is quite as effective as having the same injury yourself, to really understand what a person is feeling...
This week has provided a timely reminder on neck pain and what to do, or NOT to do, when injured.
I can't look up, I can't look left and I need to use my hands to turn my head over in bed.
For the record, I'm OK. This article isn't a sympathy request. The pain intensity isn't terrible, just VERY inconvenient, and I'm partly to blame (more on that below). Consider this a reflection on "Nobody is Perfect" and "What NOT to do".
My pain began Monday when I stacked off my new surfboard and fell backwards, hitting my head on the wall of water (think of a belly whacker for your head). It hurt at the time, but the surf was solid and fun, so I kept going (Mistake #1). Because the surf was good, it's probably the longest I've stayed in the water for a long time. So, by the time I got out I was rushing for work and didn't bother icing or stretching (Mistake #2). Yesterday's surf was supposed to be better than Monday's, so my mild whiplash and I were up at the crack of dawn - there was no way we were missing out (Mistake #3)! Fortunately, it was an easy session and didn't challenge my neck too much. BUT, I had committed to netball last night and hadn't thought twice about not being physically up for it. The team would have been short if I had pulled out: so I played (Mistake #4). The match was hilarious - I couldn't look up to see the rebounds - so I literally just made an intentional nuisance of myself and left the space under the goals clear for my teammate. We tried moving me to a running position to avoid looking up for rebounds, but then I couldn't look left to see where the ball was coming from or where my player was running. Ridiculous!!
I've been lucky (yes, lucky. No skill involved, just an absolute fluke). I've woken this morning and am not worse for wear. I am VERY much looking forward to my Osteo appointment tomorrow (I don't have time today - Mistake #5). I'm certain that my amazing pillow has, literally, help cushion me through the worst of it. But you can see from my story how differently things could have turned out. And I will readily admit that last night I was scared about what today would bring.
This is a plea:
Listen to your bodyManage injuries or potential flare-ups conservativelyUse Common SenseErr on the side of cautionUnsure? Ask! No time for an appointment? Not an excuse: call the clinic for a quick chat and simple advice
I see people day in day out who have not used common sense and considered the above when they are injured. Honestly, it's frustrating. Without appropriate management an injury can become a chronic, debilitating, costly condition.
This week has taught me to remember that nobody's perfect. (Not even your osteopath...)
My passion as an Osteopath is keeping people active and able to do what they love. But we need to remember that sometimes the body needs time and rest to allow an injury to heal. We all possess common sense - let's use it (I've learnt my lesson).