But on Sunday, I had a rude awakening. A possibility I have always known to be a factor (even without the constant reminders from my family) reared its ugly head, and I was worried my fitness future was over before it even began: I suffered an injury that threatened to take me out for months.
As a female soccer player operating at a high level during the early days of the ACL crisis, when my knee hurts in a new and excruciating way, I am instantly worried I've torn something important. So when I couldn't move my knee nor put weight on it after my soccer game on Sunday, it's no surprise I was freaking out a little bit. Or a lot-bit. With the path I'm taking, an injury doesn't just mean no more games - it means no more income, and with something like a ligament tear, that's no income for months at a time. Needless to say, no income a big problem.
Fortunately, after spending Monday morning bouncing around to a few different specialists (can't wait for that bill), it was determined that my injury was NOT a tear. It wasn't even a strain. It's a bruise on my calf that is so big it's limiting range of motion and causing awful pain in the knee by obstructing proper muscle movement and blood flow. My RICE approach to the pain probably made it hurt more - the best way to deal with this kind of injury is to keep the leg moving, which will help the contusion loosen and drain properly. I am particularly happy with how quickly I am likely to recover from this. At most I'd miss a week, but it's only Wednesday and I'm feeling pretty pain-free. I'll probably attempt to teach a class tonight with a slightly lower impact level, and go from there.
The biggest thing to come out of this injury is the awkward, in-my-face reminder that a career in fitness is so contingent on your body's health and wellness. While the orthopedic specialist says my knee is in amazing shape considering all the wear and tear it's seen, that's no guarantee that I won't end up with a debilitating injury at the drop of a hat. And if I really do succeed in building a career around fitness, that unpredictable injury always looms in the back of my mind, threatening to shove me back in a cubicle again. It's a risk I have to take to follow a dream, so for now it's worth it, but I will have to plot my future carefully and be ready for the day when my body needs to slow down...
Any other fitness instructors out there who worry about an injury ending their career? How do you handle recovery if you've experienced a major injury? Do you think the risk is worth the reward?