A long 12 weeks 02/06/23

On March 25 I had surgery to reattach the long-head bicep tendon in my right arm. I had previously torn the tendon off its attachment point on my shoulder playing football. (I was playing full-contact-with-pads football for my high school alumni team. Let's just say it's different playing football at 36 versus 18!) As a bonus the surgeon discovered and repaired my labrum that I had torn who knows when.

The surgery went as well as hoped so now its just a waiting game. I had to keep my arm in a sling four weeks and rested for a total of 12 weeks. This has been quite the challenge for me! As a personal trainer, I kind of need to use my right arm. I've really had to learn to be creative in performing my job. Not to mention, this has put quite a crimp on my regular workout program. This has been a true test for me.

I've been working out regularly for over 25 years. Exercise is so much more than a job for me. It's one of my main passions. And I get much of my identity and confidence as a person from it. I wanted to spend a moment addressing this. What happens when something important is taken away or things don't go as planned?

Well, these are some of the lessons I've learned. I'm going to share from the perspective of my faith, but I believe these are truths that apply life in general. First, times of testing develops character - if one responds correctly. It seems adversity can either bring out the best or the worst in us. I've been trying to respond the right way. I don't want to waste a good trial. "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope." (Romans 5:3-4) Hopefully, I'm becoming a more complete person - a better man, husband, father and business owner.

Second, I'm being reminded there is more to me than working out and staying in shape. This is just a temporary adjustment, but what if I was permanetly disabled? Would my reason for living be over? Would I have failed the mission of my life? Would I need to find new friends? Of course not! My life is so much bigger than my social status, job or fitness ability. My identity is in who God made me to be, not whether I can lift heavy weights or not.

I love to exercise and I love my job. I am so grateful for the health I've been able to enjoy in my life to this point. I love running my own business, but if that was taken away I know there is so much more. "Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature... For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7)

This "trial" has helped me grow as a trainer too. I was able to put into place a training principle that I learned in college. The principle is continuing to strength train the un-injured limb while the injured limb recovers. Research shows that recovery speeds up and strength loss is minimized in the injured limb if the healthy limb is still trained. This is believed due to the nervous system sending information to the injured area and is known as "cross-education". So, even while my right arm was in a sling, I did as much as I could with my left arm. It felt a little funny to just lift with my left arm, but I knew it was doing good to my body! Here is a link to an article regarding this to learn more.

So, to summarize, it has been a challenge for me to be patient during the healing process. But this experience has grown me. In addition to developing more as a person, I've gained professionally too. I have a greater appreciation and knowledge of what it takes to overcome an injury. I have more knowledge about how to adjust workouts and implement rehabilitation strategies.

At the end of the day Rock City Fitness exists to help people dig deep, work hard, overcome obstacles and acheive their goals. Throughout this recovery process, I've tried to embody what my business stands for. My goal has been to practice what I preach. I believe this is just the beginning of a journey - to help others be the best they can be - for many years to come!


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  • Dr. Herminia Bierema

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