This photo is a testimony of being patient and only doing what I can, when I can. Toes to bar is a movement that requires a lot of upper body strength and mobility and it’s been something that has been out of my reach for quite a while. I can currently do a few of these at a time (never the full amount in a workout) but I am slowly adding them in a little by little, allowing lots of recovery and never pushing beyond my limit. 

18 months ago I was in a car accident. I was sitting at a set of lights when I heard a loud bang and felt my chin hit my chest. At first, I thought someone else had been hit and looked around in a bit of a daze. Then I realised that I had been hit, and made my way out of traffic to assess the damage. Luckily for me, I drive a 4WD and the car that hit me was a much smaller sedan. I also have a tow-ball which absorbed a lot of the impact however, he did still manage to get past the tow-ball and hit the back of the car. He’d also managed to move my car forward about a metre (which I could see based on the tyre skid marks on the road – my foot never left my break and he didn’t hit his). Unfortunately, from the accident, I have been left with whiplash that continues to cause my pain to this day.

Up until this point, I’d never looked into the injury, and would never have though it to be a particularly serious one. But the trauma that happens to the muscles, and the nerve pain that can continue for years after (yes years!) is unreal.

To this day, I still have burning between my shoulder blades (more predominantly on the left side than the right), I can’t lie on my stomach to watch a movie or read for too long as it sets of excruciating pain in-between my shoulder blades, I can’t look down for too long as it hurts my neck, if Tony kisses me I have to put my hand behind my head as the backwards pressure is too uncomfortable, my neck “catches” multiple times a day, I wake up with headaches every day, I can’t train my upper body too often, I miss out on things that others can do (i.e. rides at Movie World) and most importantly, I can’t safely train people anymore as I don’t have the ability to load/unload weights and spot people for hours at a time. Luckily I’ve been able to navigate a career change. 

Did I think 18 months later I’d be having issues still? Absolutely not – I’m actually shocked at how long it’s taking to go away. But I do have some things that I have learned along the way that have provided me some relief. 

  1. Get to the physio early! Start your rehab as soon as possible and do your exercises. As uncomfortable (and boring) as they are, they are important and your best bet of recovering!
  2. Be prepared for discomfort. We tend to think if something hurts, it must be bad but this is not always the case. I can remember when my neck had been at it’s worst (about 4 months after the accident) and everyone was doing upper-body training and as per usual, I was going to skip it. I thought to myself, well it can’t get any worse so I may as well do it and within 24 hours, my pain had SIGNIFICANTLY abated. There is a caveat to this – I started on the lighter side and was very careful with the movement. 
  3. You need to move! A loss of muscular strength is associated with poorer outcomes. When I started training my upper body again, it absolutely made a difference in terms of pain and function. I feel the best when I’m exercising and I feel the worst when I don’t move. Not only does exercise brings all the happy hormones that make us feel good, but a a structured, gradually overloaded exercise program also brings with it strength gains and a faster recovery. 
  4. Get on top of your pain. Pain prevents us from doing so many things and it can prevent us from doing the exercise we need to recover quickly. If you’re uncomfortable all the time, you need to discuss this with your physio or your doctor (P.S. if you can afford it, I also highly recommend getting a supportive mattress and pillow – it made such a difference for me). 

So today I am going to celebrate my achievement of the toes to bar (even though my technique is ordinary and I can’t do many) as I have come so far in the last 18 months and know that with consistency and determination, I can overcome this injury and hopefully become pain-free again in the not too distant future.

Big thank you to Lauren @_loz_amateur_photography for capturing this moment for me! 

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