The Secret to Pain-Free Training and Resolving Recurring Injuries

Have you ever had that experience where you just feel like you're plagued by injuries or illness? I know that I've worked with many athletes who seem to constantly be on the bench because of dealing with some pain that is keeping them from their sport. Before they come to see me, they will often take a break and let the pain subside, only to have it return when they return to activities. Other times they've been to physical therapy and have gone through rehabilitation for an injury, only to be released from treatment, return to activity, and have it flare up again.

You injure your ankle and go through rehab. Then suddenly your knee starts hurting, and so you take time off the address that. But then you get plantar fasciitis, and then your hip, and for some reason, your shoulder becomes an issue. Have you been a victim of this travel pain syndrome (as I refer to it)? Because I see it A LOT. Even my husband suffers from it. And it stinks! The minor nuances of pain come and go enough to have a direct impact on how we are able to participate in our preferred activity, and for some of us, leads us to give up altogether.

But here's the thing. Over the past 17 years, I've discovered that there is a fix, but I'll be honest, most people don't have the stamina for it. And it's not because they can't do it, but rather they don't have the patience to stick it out. They would rather play with pain or quit than try my fix. I think you all are different. Because we're women and we have patience and we have that "I'll show you" attitude that many lack. And we're moms. This means that most of us have gone through some sort of long labor and birth, recovered from that, and are practicing our patience daily as we raise our kids.

So I'm going to share my fix.

Have you ever had to reset your cell phone? Like to the point where you have to basically erase all of your data and re-install the app? If you have, you know that it's kind of a pain in the butt in that it takes time and you have to be patient while everything reloads, but in the end, you get back everything you had before AND your phone is working better than it did before the reset. That's basically what we have to do with our bodies when we're dealing with these chronic and traveling injuries. We need to reset our bodies in order to change the patterns that have led to these injuries! Often these injuries are occurring because our alignment and moving patterns are off, and sometimes what we eat and our mindset can prolong inflammation and delay healing. Whether the onset of the injury is from a traumatic incident - a fall leading to a sprain, a car accident, kicking your kids' toys, etc. - or come on over time, something in how your body is moving isn't right. You may have compensated for an ankle injury by limping, and this change in your gait retrained your hips to work differently when you walk and run. Our bodies adapt and consider this change a new norm, even if it's not the best for us. Our bodies are very efficient in adapting when we're injured, but not smart enough to know that those adaptations affect our movement and performance in a negative way. It's like when our computers get a virus - we still function OK, but something inside is causing a glitch. Let's get rid of that glitch!

So how do we reset our bodies?

If you truly want to get back to pain-free activity, then we have to strip ourselves all the way back down to fixing our alignment - our physical, gastrointestinal, and mental alignment.

Our physical alignment often gets out of whack due to the repetitive movement patterns of sports and from just spending more time sitting over the course of our day. This doesn't mean multiple trips to the chiropractor for adjustments, but instead looking at how we're holding our bodies - sitting standing, moving - and fixing the glitches. Our bodies are actually designed to be aligned in a way that allows for our weight to be evenly distributed and our muscles to be at a perfect length for optimal strength. When we change this alignment through adaptations to injury or even our daily habits, our bodies can no longer function as they are designed. To truly reset and rebuild, our first commitment is to start examining and being mindful of our own misalignments, and then to start fixing them using corrective and Restorative Exerciseâ„¢ and retraining our movement habits.

Our gastrointestinal alignment can be off due to our good choices, our perceived stress, our sleep habits, and even from our training loads. While some people will choose to complete a directive gut-reset protocol, we can help bring our gut back into alignment and feeling good in much simpler ways as well. Bringing more colorful foods into our diet, disconnecting from devices during meal times to focus on what we're eating, and chewing our food adequately are nutritional foundations for this. Outside of nutrition, finding times to allow relaxation from your day, whether it be meditation, a walk outside, a bath, playing music, reading, or even journaling, is a daily practice that directly supports your gut health. In that line of thought, looking at your training schedule to ensure that you have rest days built in and that it is periodized to align with the peaks and valleys of your competition cycles is crucial. Finally, prioritizing sleep and aiming for 7-8 hours per night can not only help to support your gut health but also supports your mental wellness.

Over the past few years, the focus on the mental wellness of athletes has come to the forefront. We've seen an increase of concerns arise at all levels of play - from the recreational athlete to the elite performer. While the support of seeking out mental health care is there, sometimes the means of actually going to a provider is not. However, athletes can start supporting their own mental health simply by starting to go inwards and begin to make the connections of what is triggering different emotions and episodes. Most athletes have been coached to be "mentally strong", which often results in suppressing emotions that come up during tough times and learning to "push through" and perform. While there are times during competition when this is necessary, but to support our mental wellness, we do eventually need to process what we are feeling, and hopefully fairly close to the event. Learning how to identify triggering events and then how to manage those emotions productively that move us through the stress and emotional cycle is key. Once we have our management tools identified, then we can use the appropriate ones to help get us back to a grounded state that will support our athletic performance as well as our mental health.

Over the next 4 weeks, we're going to examine some of the tools and processes that we can use to reset our alignment in all of these areas and get back to pain-free performance. It's not a quick process, and it's not a one-size-fits-all either, but the approach is one that you can use and tailor to your needs in order to support your training and performance.

If you are willing to step back with me and commit to this process, I promise that you will reap the rewards in the future. And don't worry - I'm not going to let you sit on the bench during this reset. Nope. We'll talk about how to incorporate these tools to help you continue moving, even if the pain is keeping you out of the game a bit.

The balance between our restorative needs and our training needs is what builds elite performance in the long run. Trust me on this!


I have three simple tasks for you

  1. MOVE. I want you to see how many different positions you can achieve with your body each day. I want you to get off the couch and out of the chair (yes, even if you're working). Get on the floor. Stand up. Aim for that 3-5 miles of total movement each day.
  2. UNPLUG. Turn off the phone, computer, & TV while you eat and simply shift your focus to your food. Also slow down and chew. Research shows that aiming for 50 chews per bite improves the digestibility of your food and also supports gut health. Fifty chews is a lot, so start by seeing how many you can get in before you need to swallow.
  3. BREATHE. Find a few times during the day to simply stop and focus on your breath. Set a timer for one minute. Close your eyes and bring your attention to your breath. Try to breathe only through the nose and "feel" the air flowing in and out. That's it.

Need inspiration? Be sure to follow my Facebook and Instagram pages for movement challenges and exercise, and nutrition tips as we explore bringing holistic alignment practices into our sports performance training. Share your pics with me, and use the tags #movehealplay and #nourishedathlete to share how you're resetting your body for better performance!

Categories: : heal, performance, injury

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