The Power of Rest

by Tammy Strobel on February 16, 2012

On February 1st, I wrote a note to email subscribers about my bad knee. I said:

My dad’s stroke prompted me to examine how I treat my body. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been reevaluating the type of foods I eat, my exercise habits, and the amount of rest I’m incorporating into my schedule. In short, I’m taking a hard look at my health. For example, I’ve been dealing with pain in my left knee for the last four years. It’s been annoying, but not debilitating. It all started right after I ran my first marathon. I didn’t give myself enough time to recover after the race and injured my knee. As I told my physical therapist, ‘I’ve successfully ignored my knee pain for the last four years.’

I can’t ignore the issue anymore. Over the last six months, it’s been waking me up at night throbbing and the pain has gotten worse over the last month. After asking me lots of questions, my physical therapist diagnosed me with bursitis. Then we talked about treatment options, which include exercises I’m going to do at home.”

On Monday the 13th, I went back to my physical therapist and he banned me from my bike for another two-weeks. I won’t lie, not being able to ride my bike sucks. As I told a friend recently, “I didn’t realize how much cycling I was doing until I had to stop. I really miss the exercise.”

I’m bound to public transit for now and I know that’s for the best. I’d rather take a month or two off the bike, instead of being in pain for next 20 years. This experience has helped me refocus and find a little more balance in my life.

Below is a list of a few things I’ve noticed during my transition away from two wheels.

1. Taking my body for granted isn’t smart.

I should have listened to my body 4 years ago when my knee started acting up. I can’t change the past. However, I can change how I behave in the present moment and in the future.  I only get one body and I don’t want to wear it out too quickly. So I’m going to follow my physical therapists suggestions, which include getting enough rest and doing low impact exercises, like walking and swimming.

2. Take advantage of public transit.

The City of Portland has an amazing public transit system. For $24 a week, I can ride the bus, the MAX and the street car throughout the city. Plus, the bus drivers and riders are incredibly friendly; 90 percent of the people who get off the bus say thank you to the bus driver. Yesterday, I almost missed the bus and was running a block to catch it and someone held it for me. And they didn’t even get on the bus! People are incredibly kind; it’s just a matter of noticing.

3. Asking for help is part of life.

For a long time I didn’t ride the bus because I thought I could do everything myself. And that meant riding my bike when I was sick and injured. I tend to be very stubborn and don’t ask for help as much as I should. Riding the bus is just another way of asking for help.

4. The time to reflect on life is a gift.

Riding the bus gives me time; time to reflect, relax, and people watch. For me, the bus moves at a slower pace than the bike. I know that seems counter intuitive. But when I’m riding my bike, I’m operating a vehicle and have to pay attention to the road. Whereas when I ride the bus, I can read, gaze out the window or people watch. It’s been a lot of fun to see the City of Portland in a new way.

Micro-action: Do you have health care needs that you’ve put off? What can you do today to start taking better care of your body?

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