By Jamie Bussin
for TONIC Toronto Magazine
Here’s the cold hard truth. For most of us, maintaining maintaining our good health is a lot of work. It takes time and energy and commitment and financial resources - to eat better, to exercise, to maintain balance and peace of mind. Don’t get me wrong, the rewards are there, manifesting in a better quality of life for you and your loved ones. But sometimes a healthy lifestyle isn’t enough. Or more precisely, sometimes a healthy lifestyle begets even more commitment.
I pulled my calf muscles running four times this year. In the worst incident, I was halfway into a thirteen kilometer run, felt a sharp pain in one leg, and stupidly decided to try to run through it. Bad idea. I overcompensated and pulled the other calf; the result being that I couldn’t run at all for nearly a month. The last time, after my hiatus, I was well into a big run, tired but moving fluidly when some guy ten years younger passed me. I, of course, took this as an existential challenge and picked up my pace. Bam! Sigh. Another month of not running.
It became obvious, even to me, that altering my routine, stretching and praying to the running gods wasn’t enough to allow for proper healing. After some cajoling from my wife, friends and trainers, I realized that if I wanted to get back to running, physiotherapy was necessary. Aside from some occasional massages, I’d never undergone any kind of physical treatment. It was a new experience.
As I walked into the treatment room and saw the massage-like table, I was hopeful that physiotherapy would be relaxing. But that table was a mirage of serenity; a dirty, dirty trick. Because I quickly learned that physiotherapy hurts. Not that I wasn’t warned, but excising the buildup of scar tissue on my calf muscles resulted in a smorgasbord of pain. There was the sharp localized pain of Kevin (my physiotherapist, or Torquemada as I like to call him) poking and pulling my muscles with his fingers; the pulsing pain of electrical currents running through acupuncture needles stuck into my legs, and the hot, dull, residual, bruising pain that is the aftermath of my twice weekly sessions with Kevin. Of course I’m joking (kind of). The treatment is working and I can feel myself getting stronger. This was a minor setback in the scheme of my physical wellness, but also an opportunity to be mindful of the commitment required to be healthy.