So… I’m about to get real personal here.
A question people often ask me is “how did you keep going?” when I was going through my own SI joint saga.
I know exactly why you you guys are asking. I’ve totally been there myself, where it can seem really hard to believe you’ll ever figure things out.
So I have two main answers to this question, and they’re pretty interrelated:
Putting the pieces of the puzzle together
First, I guess a part of me always felt like I was working towards something during my saga. A few months would go by where I’d feel like I’d hit a plateau, but then something else would happen and I’d end up discovering a new piece.
Whether that was:
- Discovering that all my pool exercises had paid off and I could now stay in the water for longer
- Coming up with a comprehensive stretching routine— along with my PT at the time, I figured out which muscles I needed to stretch, and found ways to stretch them that didn’t bother me
- A big part of that was purchasing this stretching table so I didn’t have to get down onto the floor to do my routine.
- Learning the Muscle Energy Technique from my PT, so I could realign my own SI joints at home
Each time I made one of these discoveries, I felt as though my larger end-goal came closer into view.
I think the worst thing is to feel stuck, or that nothing is changing. When you can actually see that things are coming together, and your successes are building upon each other, then you know that you’re actually moving forward.
What’s the second reason?
Learning to respect my body
I try to keep it somewhat cheerful on this blog, but the truth is, I wasn’t exactly coming out of the greatest place when all this started.
Like so many millennial women, I struggled with an eating disorder throughout my teens. It gave me a (false) sense of control, a way of feeling I could make my world predictable, with straightforward outcomes.
We had so many cultural messages bombarding us at the time that thinner was better. Looking back, and after speaking with so many other women and even hearing female celebrities speak out, it’s crazy how we all kept it to ourselves and thought we were the only ones. Because it was actually so pervasive in our culture at the time. I kept it to myself and was afraid to tell anyone, but looking back, I can see my story was pretty universal, especially among female high-school runners.
So how does this relate to the SI joint?
By the time I injured my SI joint at 25, I was *mostly* over the eating disorder. On the surface, it was totally in the past. I ate normally; I no longer restricted my calories.
But actually, this process of dealing with SI joint dysfunction required me to achieve a new level of making peace with my body.
I had to rely on myself.
Ultimately, I had no one to do this for me. I certainly had people that helped me along the way, but there was no one else who could put all of the puzzle pieces together for me.
I realized I was strong.
Okay, so my SI joint ligaments had been jnjured. (I now understand that things were extra intense for me, because I have a genetic hypermobility disorder).
But I still had everything else I needed. I had muscles, that I could strengthen. And, maybe even more importantly, I had my nervous system, and my mind, that could learn new ways of being. I could teach my muscles new ways of firing (core and transverse abdominis muscle, I’m looking at you!).
I could find new ways of moving. Yes, this required a lot more attention. But it also required me to be more in touch with my body, and learn to be more graceful.
I found peace in creating a new way of being.
After all, I didn’t really want to go back to the way things were before all this.
When I was fifteen, my body could do just about anything. I could get up at 5 am before school, and pound out a 6-minute mile on the treadmill with no warm-up, just in case my track workout didn’t burn “enough” calories after school.
But was I happy? No. That was not a sustainable way of being, let alone using your body.
I was actually happier at 25, limping my way into the pool area to do my workout. On the surface, it might not have seemed like a great situation, but on the inside, I felt stronger than ever.
I knew that I was building something– learning something, creating something– a new way of being where I truly respected myself, and my body.
I had to do what was really and truly best for me.
Having this injury forced me to put everything else aside. I couldn’t base my actions off of others’s opinions — in particular, because so many of the medical professionals I saw had no idea what SI joint dysfunction was.
Believe me, I had my moments of despair and frustration, like many of you.
But underneath it all, I also knew that I was creating something— my new way of being.
So I kept going, kept discovering new things, and putting the pieces of the puzzle together.
You can do it too.