Back to Basics: Part 1

This is something I have been intending to write about for some time. Recently a reader of this blog sent an email asking a few questions about what I went through with my back injury and how I recovered, and over time improved what I have been able to do with my back.

Initially I must admit that for some time before the injury I sustained in 2000 I had incurred on a number of occasions back issues or injuries. It is important to acknowledge that the two types of back complaint that occurred before the late 1999 episode. My mid thorasic or area between the sholder blades had been the main area, but over the years I had a few time when my lower back gave me some grief. Mainly from overload and probably due to the way I have rowed. Trying to row long has always been a focus and it did take many years to develop the stability and strength to be able to get the long forward length and be able to move through the full range with out causing any problems.

That was pre-break down and obviously the injury that I sustained in late 99 was the beginning of a very long period of frustration, anger, relief, confusion, naivety and full throttle learning. The injury it self was not one instance that put pay to my plans. The first was during a weight session where I egotistically kept pushing when I sensed that I was not ready to go further. It is easy to see have clarity after the fact, but at the time I was in a whirl pool of thoughts and feeling fueled by competition between a few friends. This created a weakness from what felt like a slight pinch in my lower back while doing squats.

Over the next 8 months after that day it was a matter of recover, build and break down. This repeated in full cycle three times before finally I had to admit to James that I could not row on. This just so happened to be in the warm up of the World Cup in Luzern, Switzerland which by the way was to be our selection event for the games since I was unable to compete in Australia before that. Admitting and say that I couldn't go on was a mixture of complete disbelief and relief. I couldn't comprehend that it was the end and yet to say those words was like a huge weight lifting off of me. Unfortunately I also felt extremely guilty at not being able to deliver on the commitment and loyalty that James had shown me. He stood by me when I was in difficulty. Having great support around you when your injured is critical. Still others can not always full understand, particularly when it comes to back injuries. It is silent and unclear to others. It is a subtle form of suffering that goes on and because on the outside you look normal people around you forget and assume that your better than you are.

This is to paint the picture of how I became injured and in some way what it is like with a back injury. The next part I will share the recover process and ultimately the basic activities that I feel bad the biggest difference to my physical and mental health.


Anonymous said…
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the masses. Your words are insightful and encouraging, and I wish I'd had them when I was rowing and dealing with injuries. Best wishes through the build-up to Beijing!
Estevao said…
Great post. I believe unfortunely there's a lot of rowers with back injuries and sometimes they don't recover cause they don't have a good advise. knowing other's experiences is always helpfull!
good look for the build up! i just love to watch your boat move...
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