Whether it’s Gary Vaynerchuck @garyvee telling us the value of patience in business, or Yoda telling the young Luke Skywalker “patience you must have my young padawan”, the theme is wanting or expecting something right NOW and not having the patience to wait.
The same is true in health, disease and injury.
1kg of body fat has 9000 calories. It takes an awful lot of hard work, determination and consistent behaviour and lifestyle change to lose a significant amount of body fat. Choosing a salad instead of a burger and chips is good; doing it consistently for a week is even better, but real change takes consistency over a long period. Health (or ill-health) lasts a lifetime.
Ask anyone who has recovered from major injury or surgery about the need to be patient. If patience is forced upon us through injury, we quickly ‘get it’.
Unfortunately, a lot of people who see a Physiotherapist simply don’t get it, don’t want to hear it, believe they can beat the odds, and/or not prepared to wait. That tends to have an inevitable outcome. “[Luke:] I can’t believe it. [Yoda:] That is why you fail.”
I recently spoke with someone in the medical profession who had suspected ligament damage in their foot from Ju Jitsu training. This person wanted me to “fix it” but added “I’m not going to stop training because I’ve got a competition in 2 weeks”. That’s someone who works in a hospital setting and understands anatomy, physiology and normal recovery times – that person even told me what they were!
I have also recently spoken with a young runner recovering from bursitis. After 4 weeks of pain the runner had a cortisone injection then rapidly returned to an hour of running within 2 weeks of the injection. That person is now struggling to cover 20m without pain.
We have to earn good health. Each one of the five components of health related physical fitness take considerable time and effort to attain and consistent effort to maintain – aerobic capacity, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility and body composition.
Depending on the nature and extent an injury, recovery can take days, weeks, months, sometimes even years to return to a normal level of function.
Most things will heal given time. A clinician’s role is not to fix you. Our role is to protect you from yourself, steer you in the right direction and make sure that you’re doing the right things at the right time to safely and effectively help you get to where you want to be.
Commonly, the most important and valuable asset a patient has is patience.
Impatient people quickly become desperate for a solution and become easy targets for those offering a solution which costs time and money but do not work. Our runner, who was previously running 100km/week, now believes there to be something wrong with the foot (there isn’t) and is already talking about seeing a podiatrist. The BJJ competitor is likely to continue training and may well compete in two weeks. It doesn’t take a Physiotherapist or clairvoyant to predict a likely outcome in cases like these.
Patience is the capacity to accept or tolerate delay, difficulty, or annoyance without getting angry or upset.
One of these quotes comes from Yoda, the others are mine – see if you can spot the odd one out:
“Frustration is the path to the dark side. Frustration leads to stress. Stress leads to pain. Pain leads to suffering.”
“Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose”.
“If you fuck up your rehab now – if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did – you will not become an advocate of appropriate training and load management”
“A successful patient’s strength flows from their patience. But beware of the dark side. Ignorance, frustration, unrealistic expectations; the dark side of patience are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in return to activity. If once you start down the dark path, forever will be dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.”