Several years ago, I was teaching the learn-to-run clinics at the Running Room. It was all very fun. I was an enthusiastic runner, since I had just learned to run myself (no jokes please, I really did have to LEARN, because before that I hated running!). That particular year I had run my first half-marathon and it was an amazing experience, but I digress.
One evening, as I gathered our eager beginner runner’s group, I was teaching about the importance of cross-training and incorporating yoga into the weekly routine. As runners know, running tends to stiffen the body and stretching is very important for the typical runner. As an avid yogi, I felt quite comfortable demonstrating various slow stretches (actual yoga poses) that could be adapted and added into the run workout and post-workout stretch.
And then it happened. I was slowly stretching out the left quadricep, toes and heel touching the buttocks, as I felt a light tingle in the knee. It was subtle, but definite and NOT a normal movement in the knee. As I relaxed the leg and stretched out again, the knee was not the same.
It hasn’t been the same since. In fact, it had progressively gotten worse over the past few years. Right now you are probably thinking – uhm what is the point here? Good question, what is the point?
Why did my knee get injured?
Why did it get progressively worse?
How is it now?
These are the five things I learned from my knee pain.
1. My left side is my dominant side, since I’m a lefty. When I work with clients, the dominant side represents their current life situation and where they are at. Injuring my dominant knee has told me I am not quite in the right place in my life and am bending with effort and strain to get things done. = that is absolutely true. Struggling to say the least.
2. According to Louise Hay, there are emotional connections to every physical part of the body, and the knee represents: “Inability to bend. Stubborn ego & pride. Fear. Inflexibility. Won’t give in” - my injured knee was signalling the need to change direction, to open up, and allow life to move/flow. I’m a control freak and have difficulty letting others take the lead. My knee was beginning to show me the way to slow down and let others lead.
3. Over the past few years, my knee pain got progressively worse. As an intuitive healer, I listened to my knee. I listened intently. Trying to decipher what my legs needed. How am I to stretch, release, and relax this pain for good? Nothing came to me. There was a nagging thought in the back of my mind that I really need to lose weight and exercise more but my knee hurt. It was easy to say no and stay home. So I learned first hand, how painful a painful knee can really be. Walking up and down stairs was tricky at times. Sitting on my knees was painful. I felt unsteady and unstable. One knee being injured throws us off balance, and this can lead to a spiral of ‘off-balance’ steps in life.
4. This past year, I have still been struggling with the knee pain, but I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. So I set 1 goal. I will join up Maureen Rae’s Yoga studio (used to go there all the time) and get my joints and muscles whipped into shape gently and powerfully. This small goal led to another goal: I will try another tri-a-tri this summer. I even went for a run (cue: the GASP – AH!). As I added one new activity every couple of weeks, slowly and gently, my knee actually felt better. Hmmm. Odd. I realized that it was the weakening of the supporting muscles that made the pain worse. As I practiced more yoga at home, I also added a few more cycling sessions outdoors (yes, I bike all year round even in the winter, even with the knee pain). So an injury can easily create a negative cycle of destruction and weakness in your body. Setting a small but doable goal can begin a positive and constructive cycle in the body.
5. Lastly, I realized we must heal on every possible level. I examined the spiritual essence that is my knee pain. I focused on physically stretching and massaging around the knee cap and the supporting muscles. I added easy, doable, cross training and goals to heal my wounded ego, and support my heart (to counteract the disappointment I felt in myself). I blended fresh salves to cover my knee, inhaled aromatic blends to support circulation and a strong mind within. Most importantly, this year I have chosen to slow down. My word for the year is PAUSE. I am spending more time pondering and thinking about my knee and my life. The knee is still sore, but it feels stronger every week and less painful. I’m sure that once it feels a 100% I will be a whole new person.