Sports injuries can ruin your life

August 12, 2013 § 32 Comments

At the start of this morning’s Wheatgrass Ride, several riders were comparing ailments.

“My spine hasn’t recovered from that lumbar fracture of five years ago,” said one.

“I’m so sore throughout my entire body after a hard ride that I have to get a full-body massage and bathe in Epsom salts,” said another.

“After that separated shoulder, broken forearm, and hip replacement, sometimes it’s hard to even get out of bed,” said a third.

The talk continued; it was a litany of serious illnesses, broken bones, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to. Pretty soon the conversation turned to treatment and the reputations of various doctors, sports medicine specialists, orthos, chiros, massage therapists, acupuncturists, osteopaths, podiatrists, natural healers, and horse veterinarians.

I really felt for these folks and the obstacles they had to overcome simply to ride their bikes. Of course, I’d recently experienced a physical ailment myself, and I shared it with them.

Anatomy of an ailment

In well over thirty years of cycling, I’ve been fortunate to have escaped injury. Sure, there were the inevitable Cat 4 crashes when I first started racing in ’84, but I never broke a bone and never got more than minor road rash. Likewise, I’ve never had discomfort on the bike. I’ve never had back pains, neck pains, knee pain, hip pain, jaundice, leprosy, stinkybutt, or any other discomfiture except for the misery that comes from getting hammered and dropped.

However, last week, after doing the SPY Tuesday morning ride, I awoke on Wednesday with a muscular pain just above my right hip and off towards the left, in that soft spot between the backbone and the hip bone where I keep my fat stores for the winter. It was somewhat uncomfortable.

Each time I turned around, or when I pedaled to work, this small muscular/fatty area emitted a kind of sore feeling. On the Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale, I was a solid “2.” Perhaps it was even out of the 2 and even into the lower 3, but not by much.

This soreness occurred throughout the day at intermittent times and it was very annoying, almost painful, in fact. The discomforted area was about one inch in diameter, and although I could relieve the sort-of-but-not-quite-pain by pressing it with my finger for a second or two, an hour or so later after I had stopped pressing the afflicted area, the kind-of-soreness would return.

Getting old is hell

I’d heard my friends talk about the pains, illnesses, and aches that come with ageing. Until I got that sore spot I hadn’t taken them seriously, but now I can really empathize. This uncomfortable spot went away after two days, but while it was there it almost bothered me a lot. And although it was one of the worst experiences I can recall, it made me a better person because I can now really empathize with my cycling friends. It also made me realize how important it is to continue cycling, because the pain and discomfort of riding hard is what made it possible for me to get through those two days. I like to think that cycling has given me a sort of “toughness reserve” that I can draw on in times of almost feeling like I’m in pain.

I’m going to start taking better care of my health, too. This was a real wake-up call, the way that little sore spot just stayed sore for two entire days, on and off. It made me think, “If I’m already getting a little discomfort spot at age 49, what’s going to happen when I’m 60? Or 70?” Now’s the time to be proactive, folks, and to stop taking good health for granted.

So, I’m not trying to sound preachy, and certainly not trying to beg for sympathy, but it’s the tough times in life that let you appreciate the good ones. Take care of your bodies, folks, it’s the only one you have! Below is a true photo of the affected area. It was really partially uncomfortable some of the time. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

Affected Area

Affected Area: This was somewhat uncomfortable, on and off, for almost two whole days. Let’s stay healthy, people!

§ 32 Responses to Sports injuries can ruin your life

  • dan martun says:

    Ive had little sore spots that hurt..some that hurt for months. but they were nothin like when I grenaded my lower back, that one gave me Face10 for a while. Other than those mental issues, its good that you have remained relatively unscathed..

    • Admin says:

      Unscathed? Didn’t you read my post? I was almost in pain for nearly two whole days. How about a little sympathy for a friend??

  • New Girl says:

    WM just made me spit out my coffee!!!

    That sounds REALLY HORRIBLE, I’m so glad you pulled through…


    • Admin says:

      Without the toughness I’ve developed through a life devoted to hard cycling, I would never have made it.

  • Steve K says:

    Allways good to feel good. I take that for granted 99% of the time. The other 1% is when a feel like shit.

  • Valley Girl says:

    Last weekend I got hit in the face by a wayward cat 3 bottle at the BWGP crit, Saturday, I fell down the stairs onto my elbow and gave myself whiplash…personally I like my chances on the bike 😛

  • Tom Paterson says:

    “Thus is the wisdom of the Elders made manifest”. Which is ironic when you can see even fatty masters riding and competing like the Immortals they once thought they were. “Red Badge of Stupidity”. The Elders knew what they were about.

  • Peter Schindler says:

    Cycling gives you a different perspective on pain. I went to the doctor once because I had some pain where my back was broken a few years before. (Car turned left in front of me.) He probed and asked me if it hurt. I said not a lot. Then he said “I mean does it hurt like for a normal person, not does it hurt you.”

  • I will bring over my Campy chain saw and remove the pain!

  • Usta Befit says:

    I hope you were knocking on wood as you wrote this……

  • While shouting at the London traffic this morning, I bit through my own cheek, pulled my left foot out and hit the handle-bar with my knee. All in front of a fairly substantial bus queue.

    The bruising to me dignity is almost umbearable.

    • Admin says:

      Cheek bites are a whole ‘nother level of discomfort, approaching slight pain. Wow. Way to tough it out! Handlebar knee-hits can actually leave a bruise. That what the brother- and sisterhood of cycling gives us over bus-riding mortals, though: The ability to endure.

      I will email you a link to an online retailer who sells Dignity Patches. They’re $5.00 per gross; I go through a box or so each weekend.

  • tobylima says:

    I abandoned my dignity some time ago.

  • Rob says:

    At 50, my high mileage days are long over. Those friends of mine, roughly the same age, just didn’t know when to quit. Today, they no longer ride due to the discomfort of their titanium hip replacements. Excess mileage and over training will eventually do you in. Hardcore racing and training is for the young guys. When you hit 50, hang it up. There’s nothing left to prove. Your best days are behind you. Cherish those memories and move on. Now, you can just go out and enjoy cycling with friends the way it was meant to be.

    • Admin says:

      There’s a lot of wisdom there, enough even for another blog post.

      Of course, I’ve never led a very wise life, and it would be strange to start now.

    • Winemaker says:

      Does this Rob have red hair?

    • Rob says:

      Black and I don’t color.

    • Dave says:

      I don’t have the time myself for those high mileage rides. Family obligations. But I still like to compete in the crits, even at 51. Not everyone is hardcore. I compete for the fun of it. It’s nice to see those familiar faces every other month or so at the event. I am the most consistent mid pack finisher you’ll ever meet. And I’m cool with that. If I was on a sponsored team, it would be different. You have an obligation to that sponsor as well as your teammates. A friend of mine recently injured his lower back in a motocross crash at Glen Helen. He’ll probably need spinal fusion at L4 and L5 or disc replacement. He’s 55. What was he trying to prove? That’s what I asked him.

      Remember that Clint Eastwood line from Magnum Force…A man has got to know him limitations.

  • Sidamo says:

    Sounds almost as bad as the man-flu. Glad you pulled through OK!

  • Steve K says:

    Been thinking about this all day. You should get an MRI but make sure you Google all your symptoms first. The information you choose will be really helpful for your doctor(s) to have. Dress warmly in your Members Only jacket and on the way stop as Costco for your free quarterly tire rotation-uneven wear- as you know can be dangerous and possibly painful. I really hope you are ok. Godspeed.

    • Admin says:

      Thanks, my friend. We like to talk about our toughness and ability to endure, but it’s the friends who give us encouragement that really pulls us through. I hadn’t considered an MRI but I think it’s a good idea. And getting my tires checked.

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