Optimize client Julienne opens up about injury, mental health and trusting the process.
Running will be there when you’re ready to return to it. CrossFit will be there when you’re ready to return to it. And like any muscle, the belief that this is true can be exercised to get stronger too. After a series of life-altering hurdles, that’s what Julienne—Crossfitter, runner, caregiver and busy mom of three—made her focus.
Life Gets Real
As a mom to three rambunctious little ones and caregiver to their quadriplegic dad requiring 24/7 care (stemming from a rare autoimmune disease diagnosis), Julienne has seen firsthand how a healthy body can change in an instant.
“Being able to move without pain is definitely not something that I take for granted now,” she says. “That’s why working out, having time for myself, and staying healthy is important to me. I can keep up with my boys and provide better care.”
Whether they’re big or small, physical setbacks leave their mark. “I think every person who has experienced a sports or physical injury can easily feel dejected,” says Julienne. “You don’t know how important your wrist is in order to perform a simple task, or how your back is responsible for a lot of the movements you perform at the gym…until you hurt that part of your body and can’t do anything for a while.”
The Injury Impact
While the world was being rocked by the pandemic, Julienne was also experiencing another level of uncertainty. “My back injury coincided with the very beginning of Covid and put me out of commission for a while,” she remembers. “It was really hard on my body. It deterred me from doing any other activities, so the combination of not being able to workout for a while, being hurt, and being locked up at home took a serious toll on my mental health.”
After all, Julienne relies on pounding pavement and putting a barbell overhead to get her mindset right for her everyday responsibilities. Sweaty brow. Burning muscles. Hammering heart. She craves it, and science shows challenging ourselves physically majorly boosts self-esteem and cognitive function. It’s a critical component in staying mentally healthy, happy and fulfilled. But when injury makes that impossible, then what?
Learning to Let Go
“I tried to rest at first,” says Julienne. Important, considering resting and healing is its own form of productivity. “But, I was limited in doing the things I needed to so I knew I had to see someone.”
Although this wasn’t Julienne’s first introduction to Optimize, it was the first time she wasn’t entirely sure the solution would be as simple as previous setbacks had been.
“Hurting my lower back during a CrossFit workout was one of my more major injuries, and unfortunately with my high intensity workouts, I’ve had my fair share of sports injuries that led me to seek professional help,” says Julienne. Many of those she considered minor and dissipated without much treatment needed, but it was this ”Covid back injury” that required a deeper investment of time and follow ups.
“It set me back a lot,” admits Julienne. “But Optimize helped me with the rehab and my mindset, and I’m happy to say I’ve learned a lot in moving past that injury.”
Approach is Everything
For many clients, Optimize begins with manual therapy, proceeds into strength training and then rounds it out with self mobilization techniques. “This variety of treatment has so far been very effective in reducing pain and getting my movements back,” says Julienne. “Whether my injury is due to a muscle imbalance, an overuse injury or strength or form issue, Arri always does a very thorough initial assessment.” From there, they figure out an effective rehab that’s suited to her level of injury and current capabilities, and can change it as they see fit.
Whether we workout for mental health, physical health, or simply to burn off some energy and agitation, regularly slowing down and being patient is key to changing the healing trajectory—physically and mentally.
“Arri was very patient,” says Julienne. “He listened to all my concerns and I asked questions at any time I wanted. Even with my limited movement, he made sure I was making gains.” Considering her intense responsibilities, most of Julienne’s appointments were through the Optimize Online platform.
We don’t plan for injury, but we can always be ready with the right support in our back pocket. “It may take some time, but it will be worth doing whatever it takes,” reassures Julienne. “You will get better. No matter how sad, anxious or agitated you feel, you will come out of it.”
Every step of the way has made Julienne stronger and more equipped to take on daily life while slowly returning to the activities she loves. After a few follow-ups and sticking to her rehab plan (with a hefty dose of trust and patience), Julienne got back to her baseline again.
“It’s easy to be impatient when we’re dealing with injuries, but everyone at Optimize reminds me that the baby steps of rehab can lead to bigger and better results!”