A sharp pain radiated into my leg, walking was extremely painful, and my walk had turned into a pathetic shuffle. I could not believe this happened to me, a fanatic runner who ran an ultra-marathon a year before! It is true that my daughter Julia told me for years to see a physical therapist to evaluate and correct my posture and running technique. It is also true that I would fall on the trails about every 2 hours and that as a result I covered my body with scars. It is also true that I twisted my ankle every few months.

I was stupid and ignored my daughter’s advice … until I could not walk anymore. I finally got it and made an appointment for physical therapy. I was lucky and fell into the hands—and dry needles—of Katie Carbiener, a physical therapist and marathon runner. With a regime of stretches, core exercises, her treatments, and a good dose of humor she straightened me out. After a few months I was pain-free and could run again. She also looked at my posture and running technique and provided corrective exercises. Katie does not mince words and made it clear that I need to do these exercises for the rest my life if I want to be free of pain. I now am not only pain-free; since I worked with Katie I did not fall a single time on the trails and did not twist my ankle once.

What kept me from listening to Julia and seek help at a moment when it could have avoided a summer of pain? I probably wanted to avoid the hassle and the expense of seeing a therapist. Part of it was a sense that I could handle it myself, after all, I had been running for years and knew what I was doing (or so I thought). I also wanted to avoid vulnerability, seeking help might uncover a bigger problem, and I did not want to expose my running technique to critique. And all this was overlain with a thick layer of male stupidity.

What are the lessons learned? First, I need to be open and listen to those around me, in this  case my daughter Julia. The second lesson is that by getting feedback, suggestions, and correction from an expert I could have avoided much suffering. The third lesson is that seeking help was an opportunity for improvement that I had bypassed for a long time. I now run faster and with more enjoyment than I have ever done.

This episode describes seeking help with my running and posture, but this story is applicable to many other situations, which can be of a physical, mental, social, or spiritual nature. The challenges that we face may play out in our body, our relationships and social life, our career, how we handle stress, or in our sense of wellbeing. In what parts of your life can you do better? Are you stressed? How is your work-life balance? (Hello modern professionals!) Are you in physical or emotional pain? How much pain will you take before you seek help by seeing a medical doctor, physical therapist, psychotherapist, or life coach? If you want to explore the last option, wherever you may be located, you can schedule a free 30 minute video consultation with me. We cannot avoid all pain in life, but let’s not suffer unnecessarily.

Roel Snieder

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