When I was a sophomore in high school, during football practice, Patrick T threw a block into my knees and my right knee hyperextended. It hurt like a, well, it hurt. I yelled out in pain. It was the very first play of practice. I remember this because the head football coach stood over me yelling, “You mean to tell me you are going to come out here and get hurt on the first play of practice?!?” I jumped up off the ground and immediately fell back down. My knee hurt and I couldn’t put weight on it. Thankfully, the assistant coach came over to me, helped me stand up and said, “Come on, Timmy. Let’s walk it off.” I really liked him, not because of the wisdom he had – I was unaware of it then – but because he saw me. He noticed me.
Anyway, as I said, he did offer me immense wisdom that day. I got hurt. He told me to walk it off. I think there is a good likelihood that any of us who have ever played sports have heard that line before: Walk it off. There’s probably also a great likelihood none of us have ever gleaned the wisdom in those words.
Walk it off.
Walking is the movement we were all given to keep us healthy. Walking is the movement that strengthens and “heals” the nervous system. Walking is the movement that helps replace unwanted or unclear information traveling to the brain with nourishing, rich information that improves our entirety; body, mind and emotions. Yes, if one is able, “walking it off” could be the best thing one could do after an injury that allows the gait pattern to still be employed. It may help combat movement altering pain signals and compensation patterns.
And yes, it does depend on the injury. Some injuries alter gait (walking) drastically. In this case, there may be too many compensation patterns happening when walking – maybe. Perhaps if a person is a “good” walker however, those patterns could quickly fade from a very strong nervous system efficient at walking well. But, for others, perhaps a regression of walking, like crawling, could be employed to strengthen the nervous system and help the body get back to optimal shape after an injury. There may be times when you just need to “crawl it off.”
Walking or crawling, it’s our gait pattern. That is the pattern that was both meant to get us from A to B as well as get us from weak to strong or injured to whole. And as I mentioned above, this pattern heals and improves all of us; body, mind and soul.
Has your emotional state ever been injured? Have you ever been angry or sad and gone for a walk? Did it help? I’ll bet it did. We have the gift of not only being able to walk off physical injuries but we can also walk off emotional ones. We can even walk ourselves to mental clarity. Sometimes going for a walk can help unlock our creativity; it helps us solve problems or issues we may be dealing with. This is a two for one special. Mental problems are often very intertwined with emotional hurt. And in truth, often emotional hurt leads to physical injury.
But we aren’t meant to stay injured. We are meant to heal and be restored.
Your coach was always right. Your dad, your mom – anyone who has ever told you to walk it off was right. Walk it off and let it go. Hurt is hurt. If it has a purpose, let that be served and then let it go. Physical, mental or emotional hurt – it is really all the same. If you can, walk it off. Let it go. Strengthen your nervous system, restore your movement, soothe your emotions, focus your thoughts. If you can’t walk, crawl. If you can’t crawl, roll. If you can’t roll, breathe.
Start with what you can do and learn to walk again. It’s your design and you are designed to be strengthened continually.