How to go from Pain to Performance
The pain I felt in my hip started about 7 seven years ago. I noticed that I was having a hard time bending over to tie my shoes and if I sat for long periods of time, my hip would get “stuck” and I had to move it in a certain position in order for it to get “unstuck”. The pain and limited mobility kept getting worse and worse. I didn’t have a specific injury, but eventually I was diagnosed with femoral acetabular impingement. As it turns it this is a congenital issue where the head of the femur is oval instead of round and with all of the sports I played throughout my life, it eventually wore away my hip socket.
My limited hip mobility turned into excruciating back pain. It was like a domino effect. If you have gone through any type of orthopedic or back pain, I am sure you can relate. I lived with this excruciating pain for over 3 years. I really didn’t want to have surgery, but my quality of life was getting so poor I was left with no other option.
After consulting with 5 different orthopedic surgeons I decided to have a hip resurfacing procedure done. This is a type of hip replacement for people who are active and younger. It’s a metal on metal ball and socket that fits into the femur and the hip joint.
The rehab was painstaking. Being an athlete and one who normally recovers pretty quickly after an injury, I thought I would bounce back pretty fast. I was completely wrong about that. I had a physical therapist come to my house for a few weeks and I wasn’t even able to lift my left leg up under my own power. I started to have doubts if I would ever be able to lift my leg up, let alone walk normally.
Psychologically, I was pretty low. I was scared that I would never be the same. I love to ride bike, lift weights and play golf and I was wondering if I would ever get to do those things again. I was also in so much pain.
What I slowly had to do, was focus on taking small baby steps in my recovery process, otherwise I would have been completely overwhelmed. I started out by setting the goal of trying to lift my leg on my own 1 inch off of the floor. I knew I had to start somewhere. It took me about a month to get there, but eventually I was able to accomplish this seemingly small, but huge milestone for me.
From Pain to Performance Key #1
Focus on baby steps: Don’t try to take on too much at once. Small victories add up over time. Lifting my leg one inch off the ground led to lifting it two inches off the ground. It took me a month to get there, but it eventually happened. Maybe for you it’s going for a 10 minute walk every day. That 10 minute walk can lead to a 20 minute walk which can lead to a 5 minute jog. Just focus on baby steps.
My next goal was to ditch my walker and graduate to a cane. I would go for walks in my neighborhood and would try to go a little further each day. After about 6 weeks I lost the walker and went to the cane. I never thought I would be so happy to walk with a cane.
From Pain to Performance Key #2
Set goals for yourself: My goal was to transition from my walker to my cane. I set a deadline of when I was going to ditch the walker and nothing was going to stop me. Set realistic goals for yourself, but also ones that will challenge you. Get determined and have lots of patience and perseverance.
After this milestone, I started to regularly go to physical therapy at a sports medicine clinic. It was one of the hardest and most exhausting thing I have ever done. I will never forget the athletic trainer I worked with. He worked me so hard, but I knew it was because he cared about me. I remember leaving there just completely wiped out and exhausted.
From Pain to Performance Key #3
Don’t do it alone: Change is too hard to do by yourself. Work with a great coach that inspires, motivates and encourages you. A coach that gets more out of you than you ever thought possible. My athletic trainer pushed me harder than I ever thought I could be pushed and this is coming from a college athlete. He had me doing ladder drills that I haven’t done since my college days. It wasn’t fun at the time, but I wouldn’t be here today in the shape that I am without his care and concern.
Never Give Up
One thing I will say through this process is that I never gave up. I was determined to get back on my feet and get in better shape than I was before the surgery. Although, there were many days of doubt, depression and extreme fatigue, I battled through it and came out of it on the other side.
It took me about a year, to get back to where I was and about another year to get my fitness to a level of where I wanted it to be. I remember the first time I got on my road bike I was so scared. I didn’t have the mobility yet to swing my leg over, so I practically had to lay the bike on the ground to get on it. But I was determined to get out and go for a ride. I think I made it about 3 miles. About a year before I could go 50 miles without even thinking about it, but it was a small victory.
From Pain to Performance Key #4
Do the best you can each and every day: Some days were better than others. Some days I wanted to give up. Some days it hurt more than others, but I gave the best I had each and every day. Give yourself grace. It’s about progress not perfection. There will be set backs. There will be days you question your why. But don’t give up. Stick to it. Just keep showing up. That’s what I had to do even through the lows. Eventually those days became less and less and I finally started seeing results after months of hard work.
The reason I share this with all of you, is because I know some of you have your own struggles. Maybe it is with your weight. Maybe it’s with your health. Maybe it’s being burned out and exhausted. We all have our own battles to face. Trust me I know. I want to encourage you to never give up.
If you are struggling with your motivation to change, it is understandable. If you are racked with self-doubt if you can actually make the changes you want to, we have all been there. Focus on those small baby steps and most of all, don’t go it alone.
I would be honored to be part of your tribe on your health and fitness journey. I will be by your side every step of the way to encourage, inspire and motivate you to get healthy, have more energy and vitality. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear from you and see how we can work together to help you go from pain to performance.
Troy Ismir, MS