As much as I hate to admit it, right now my body is feeling pretty broken. My training has been going so well over the past couple of months, but it seems my body – which I always joke about being ‘wonky’ – has finally decided enough is enough, and that it needs a break from being constantly hammered without any thought of recovery and alignment.
I’m going to tell you a sad little story about my foot, my back, my podcasts and my snacks that’ll hopefully go some way to explain why I’ve been feeling so low recently, and hopefully prompt you to have more of a think about any pain you’re feeling in your body when training or otherwise.
We start this story with my foot, which if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have heard all about already. For a while now I’d been experiencing pain in the two middle toes of my right foot, and as time passed, this became more frequent and even more excruciating. After coming home from a Camino training walk and being in so much pain I was in tears, my boyfriend urged me to see somebody, so I booked in to see a GP who then referred me to a podiatrist.
Turns out I have something called Morton’s neuroma, which is a thickening of the nerve that runs between the third and fourth toes. It can be caused by wide and/or flexible feet, of which I have both, and the thickening means the bones squeeze the nerve in between themselves as you walk. Seriously unpleasant.
The podiatrist gave me some custom insoles, which really helped for a few weeks – and I didn’t get any pain during my Camino walk, which was a relief – but now I’m suffering with acute plantar fasciitis, possibly because of the insole.
I’ve been a “bad back” sort of person since I was sixteen, which is almost half my life now, so I suppose this story should’ve started here. However, this particular pain is comparatively new – I started feeling it around May, just after my Rainhill competition. It’s a trigger point in my quadratus lumborum muscle, and it’s gotten progressively worse over the past few months, culminating in me being unable to get up off the floor after trying to stretch out on Monday night.
Pain in the QL muscle is associated with poor posture and also leg length discrepancies, which makes me think that my foot and toe pain is a part of this, too. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I realise that over the years my body has been giving me signals that things are out of balance – I’ve just chosen to ignore them and carry on regardless, dismissing them as ‘niggles’.
Well, the time has finally come when I’m in pain throughout a lot of my body, and I feel like if I continue training then I’m going to break my body for good. It’s especially irritating for me as I really thought I’d nailed my training recently, reducing the volume I’d been doing and also eating better, but I’ve chosen to take a little time off training to really repair myself and work hard on rebalancing my body, ensuring my posture is aligned.
Something that I’ve really gotten into recently that I was adamant I didn’t like is podcasts – in particular the Total Human Optimization podcast. Each week there’s a different expert on the podcast, someone who knows their subject inside out, whether that’s gut health or decluttering, it’s something that can improve your life. The more episodes you listen to, the more you realise there’s a common thread running through all of them, and wellbeing isn’t just about looking after each part in isolation.
I know that’s what I’ve been doing, and neglecting other parts. I know that I need to start caring for myself holistically – everything from food, mindfulness, biomechanics, and even sleep (especially sleep), instead of just smashing the gym and expecting my body to be alright, like it always has been.
Alright, I’m not entirely sure where I’m going with my snacks, but I had to round this off properly! The key point here is that although I’m taking some chill time from training it’s not an excuse to just eat crap; if anything, it’s more of an excuse to eat as well as I can and nourish my body. Do I believe that certain foods can heal? Honestly, I’m not sure. I think that some foods can be anti-inflammatory, just as some can be inflammatory, and I know I need the former right now. What I know for sure is that I feel best when I focus on getting as much nourishment in my diet as I can to help my body realign itself.
In addition to this, I need to remember that this forced rest period doesn’t mean complete inactivity. I’m going to seek new ways to move my body, whether that’s walking, dynamic mobility, or strict strength. This is a good excuse to explore some weaknesses and turn them into strengths.
Normally my blog posts have some sort of moral or even morale ending, although unfortunately this one is the exception to the rule. I’m still in pain, still injured, but trying to start to look after myself, both physically and mentally, and this post is serving as a reminder to me that in times like these you need to be as kind as possible to yourself. If you start feeling pain in a part of your body, however minimal, it’s your body trying to tell you that somewhere along the line something’s not right – so get it checked out and act on it before it becomes a real problem.