In March, the weekend before my birthday, Neil went away to London. I dedicated the weekend to healthy eating, sweating and getting ‘shredded’. I did the same class, with the same trainer over 4 days among other exercising such as a run and a yoga class. I have quite thin limbs and as I don’t have decent muscle mass a lot of the efforts seem to be dumped in my joints hence I am very careful and try not to lift any weights that are above my comfort zone. However, sometimes my competitive self comes on top and takes control. In my 4th Bootcamp class we were divided into groups and I had to do a shoulder press lying on my back. The other two girls took the lighter weights and I was left with the heavy ones that I would usually avoid. On the first rep, my left shoulder clicked, on the second rep it completely went. It was painful and I had limited rotation.
I was quite annoyed but consoled myself that I will get a break and will be back in a weeks time. Which turned into two weeks… four… five…3 months! I refrained from going to a physio as I felt like they will tell me to rest it and I will throw money down the drain. 3 months later, when I saw that it isn’t getting any better I turned to dear Google. There were a couple of posts saying that Western medicine can’t do much for shoulder injuries and you just have to wait it out, some suggested a period of 12 months. 12 MONTHS! After a bit of investigation, I decided to turn to Acupuncture!
What is Acupuncture
Previously I did not know much about acupuncture or Chinese medicine for that matter. It is all quite interesting. Traditional Chinese medicine, originated in ancient China, more than 2500 years ago. Practitioners use herbal medicines and various mind and body practices, such as acupuncture and tai chi, to treat or prevent health problems.
Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through the patient’s skin at specific points on the body – the needles are inserted to various depths. According to traditional Chinese medical theory, acupuncture points are located on meridians through which vital energy runs. Through 350 acupuncture points in the body, these meridians and energy flows may be accessed. Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of the forces. If needles are inserted into these points with appropriate combinations it is said that the energy flow can be brought back into proper balance.
I listened to Rich Roll’s podcast with Heather Lounsbury which is a lot about acupuncture and I really enjoyed.
How it went
I chose to go to Harmony Acupuncture. Rachel was extremely nice and accommodating so what I thought was a ‘medical’ treatment felt more like a spa. The really great thing about acupuncture is that you can treat several ailments at the same time. So while I went in specifically for my shoulder, I also received a treatment for my sinuses and problematic throat. There were needles surrounding the pain in my shoulder with electricity running through some of them and a heater right above all that. I found the first session quite unpleasant. I have a high pain threshold but the electricity running through was not nice. I don’t know if I was imagining it but I was also quite on edge and felt like the more accelerated my pulse was the worse the electricity felt. I was much calmer in all my other sessions and didn’t experience any discomfort. The pain started off very deep within my shoulder and seemed to be moving up and coming more to the surface with each session. The pain was lessening with every session as well. All it took was 5 sessions and I was good to go. After the 3rd session, my shoulder was so much better so I started going to a Yoga studio again, doing arm balances and chaturangas in a very mindful and careful way.
Another really cool thing was that every time I went my nose was pretty much blocked and it will unblock immediately upon inserting the needles. Acupuncture works with measuring many pulses (not just the one) through which to detect different irregularities in the body. One of the days I had a sore throat which I did not share with Rachel. She measured my pulse, asked me if I had a sore throat and then inserted a needle somewhere down my leg at a mystical very sore point found by her that I could never find again later. Chinese medicine is quite impressive.
Why am I grateful for the injury?
I have always hated the gym. All the machines confused me, all the fit people around intimidated me, the air was stuffy and I never seemed to enjoy myself. When I joined a gym last July it was with the pure intention of getting a little bit stronger for an adventure race we had signed up in Scotland. On previous races I had always gone with guys and was sick of being the weakest link that can’t make it through the monkey bars so I wanted to change that. At the start of my journey I had no goals of changing the way my body looks and was feeling great about going to the gym. My injury made me realise how much had changed since I started. I had become obsessed with getting abs, getting a perfect round bum and getting stronger in an unhealthy way. I had also become very judgemental of people that did less exercise than me or did less reps. My body was absolutely exhausted from doing full body work outs every day with no chance to recover which was balanced out with a huge calorie intake hence there was 0 change in the way I looked. Which was making me upset and constantly researching on what I should change in my diet. Every week I would cut something out, add something in but throughout the whole time, I would restrict myself from eating many carbs. Which was plain stupid. I had lost myself so much in this protein fueled lifestyle that I completely lost touch with what I believed in.
Because of my injury, I was able to slow down and to slap myself in the face and say: what are you doing girl! It just took that moment to turn my whole perception around, dropping those shallow goals of what I look like and starting to focus again internally on my health and how I feel. If something doesn’t feel good and right, it isn’t what I should be doing. So my shoulder injury turned out to be one of the most positive things of the year.