August 22, 2018

Written by HI-TEC #ADVENTUREMAKER: Kai Fitchen

I’ve been hounded by injuries ever since I could remember. The whole analogy that when you’re a kid you’re indestructible and made of rubber was totally lost on me. Tendonitis, stress fractures, pulled muscles and blown knees have made me, weirdly enough, who I am today.

Being injured sucks but, until recently, I thought I was just destined to be laid off every couple of months. I could attribute this to my rather obsessive and, let's say, “passionate” character. This was magnified when I found climbing and I just loved training for big mountain expeditions, I have the ability to grind on and I could always find a way to trick myself into doing another route or set. The feeling of knowing that I’ve “given it my all” has always been one of my most prized feelings, however, this personality trait has reduced me to crutches.

One of the worst injuries I have experienced was in 2013 when my knee blew out and I was unable to practice my craft for more than 9 months. It was all self-induced and it woke me up to the reality of over-training. Being active makes me happy and whole and the thought that I may not be able to climb or run again terrified me. Before that, I would push into the black neglecting to listen to the thousands of messages my body was sending me.

I believed dogmatically in the “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” catchphrase. That was wrong, but I would have never learnt such an invaluable lesson without being forced to take a step back. While it is nearly impossible to avoid all types of injury, we can minimise them and use them to re-evaluate where we’re going wrong. Diet, sleep, posture and alignment when you’re training, practising or just living your life all contribute to possible injuries.  Saying that, sometimes you must take risks- just make sure it’s worth it.

A person that I recommend everyone to check out is Phil Maffetone who says, “practice doesn’t make perfect but perfect practice make perfect.” Quality over quantity has begun to replace my previous mottos. While I’m stubborn and a slow learner I’ve started to pay more attention to my body and, I'm definitely not as achy and sore as I once was.

Funnily enough, as I write this I have a modelled-plastic-cast-thing strapped to my finger to support one of many tendons that I’ve abused while I was rock climbing. While I’m not happy that I've been off climbing for the past few months, it has shown me how I can improve my practice and made me think about WHY I didn’t hold back and listen to my body.

Ultimately, it comes down to, like everything, being aware and conscious of your environment and body. Our bodies are our best barometers and they are always talking to us and all we need to do is listen. So, next time leave your earphones when you workout, go slower on your run or take a rest day if you’re not feeling it.

LISTEN, LEARN, AND BREATHE 

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