Recovery from patella fracture sidelined me in numerous ways that have been amply described over the past year and a half. Being able to accomplish simple daily activities without pain or restriction has required continuous dedication, lots of help from other professionals, and patience beyond my personal limits. The fact that I can now walk with ease, pursue Gyrotonic exercise full tilt, and live with minimal pain brings me much joy, relief and gratitude. And, as I have expressed frequently in this blog, my hope and intention is to resume the joy of running again. Moving with exhilaration and rhythm calms my mind and eases emotional noise. Running in the morning air and light was my means of balancing my entire self previous to injury, and I have missed that joyous experience deeply.
During the past few weeks, I have been walking carefully down not so steep hills and walking quickly up very steep hills to strengthen an entire balance of tone with good use and elastic wholeness. Today, I actually accelerated into a run up two short hills!!!!!
The injured knee was confused, and the uneven strength of my legs was distractingly obvious. One leg is responsive and elastic, and the other is slow and heavy in response. New brain maps have to be developed and coaxed. My gait can only be described as uneven, clunky and unintegrated. All of my Alexander thinking can’t override the results of 18 months of very asymmetrical use.
Knowing all too well the downside of pushing beyond a current condition of self, I am proceeding with care and awareness. I am resisting (with difficulty) a plan to increase running, attending to the means-whereby, delighting in progress, and accepting whatever pace my morning hill walk reveals.
A year and a half after injury, I am at last experiencing steady progress and reliable strength. Pain in my foot and/or knee arises now and then like an old outdated message, but not enough to seriously limit mobility. I am walking with ease and speed an average of 4 miles daily, with frequent days of twice that mileage. I limp far less, sleep with only minimal pain, and rejoice constantly in increased activity. My injured leg is still less muscular and responsive than my non-injured (and over-strong) leg, but balance in bipedal strength continues to improve.
Old pre-injury habits of use have become more apparent as the fog and distraction of pain and partial function clears. Having learned from my numerous set backs, I am ever attentive to using myself well as the possibility of more vigorous activity becomes a welcome reality. I approach all increased activity with a happy curiosity as to how to light up my entire self with an intention of ease and balance. I want to dynamically refuse any narrowing or shortening, so as not to imperil my new-found freedom with end-gaining beyond my current condition of self, and yet appropriately challenge myself to increase balanced strength. It is a finely tuned line to walk, but clearly not impossible.
No, I am not yet running, but I am deeply enjoying morning walks up steep hills (and the necessarily careful walks down hills). My Gyrotonic sessions have expanded, deepened and refined in explorations of grounding to spring into action with ease and whole self awareness.
This arduous recovery has required time, attention, tremendous assistance from other experts, and a constant application of Alexander principles. It is nearly impossible for me to imagine recovering from a serious injury without Alexander principles as a deep source of informative intention, or without the guidance of complimentary disciplines. We are elastically integrated systems, us human animals. A change anywhere in ourselves means change in our entire selves, for good or for ill. Whether we are injured or non-injured, our only choice is in our response.
As always, I am grateful to professionals who have assisted me and continue to support my progress. I am also deeply thankful for my dedicated students, who have witnessed, experienced and been compassionately patient with my long and difficult recovery. My intention has been, and continues to be, that communication about applying Alexander principles to injury recovery will assist others, for the best outcome of all concerned.
It has been one year, 5 months and 20 days since I was last able to enjoy running through the morning air, and all the associated delights of moving with ease, speed, rhythm and timelessness that running means for me. Recovery from injury has proceeded with many bumps, set backs, discoveries, moments of welcome progress, and incremental victories. (Being able to walk down stairs with ease stands out, for instance.) The possibility of using myself well even with considerable physical limitations and rather constant pain has yielded an ever deepening confidence in Alexander principles.
Patience has never been a major aspect of my being. I am constitutionally restless, over-quick in thinking and in temperament, reactive in nature. My chosen mode is “go!”, but this lengthy recovery has forced me to a nearly intolerable “slow”. My tolerance for a reduced pace in being has challenged me at the very deepest levels of self.
The foot pain has thankfully retreated to a murmuring discomfort rather than a crashing interruption. The deep impatience and overwhelming urgency to run tempts end-gaining beyond my current condition of self. Having learned the risks of pushing beyond limitations, and yet desperate for the delights of vigorous motion, I have chosen the means-whereby of activity in which I can use myself intelligently.
So, I dress in the early morning as though I am going for a run. Then, I don’t literally run, but walk my run route (formerly called my “faux run”) with the added detail of walking with vigor up hills. It is challenging, fun, and an almost run experience. I can observe my use in energetic movement, hear birds, see trees and flowers, smell the morning marine air, disperse my excess emotional energy, allow thinking to quiet to a dull roar.
Walter Carrington’s wise advice that one always has time to attend to use of the self takes on a larger meaning with a long term recovery from injury. I struggle with allowing time, but acceptance, and an intention for dynamic non-interference (inhibition) are the only tools that are effective for me.
One of these mornings, I will spontaneously accelerate into a run. Time will blur and slow, distance will minimize, and an exhilarated sense of being will renew itself like the wind.