Listen to your body while exercising, it will thank you in the long run

Published 7:14 pm Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Watching Braves right fielder Jason Heyward leave Monday night’s Braves game early with a lower back injury brought back a few memories. I was a junior in high school when I had my first real athletic injury.

I was a cross-country runner. Not lighting fast, but quick enough to be among the top seven runners on the team and compete in varsity races. It was my first year running, and every race, I was becoming quicker and quicker. I started the season finishing around the 21-minute mark. I ended it running in the 19s.

Unfortunately, I had to end the season short.

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My ankles are pretty weak. I blame genetics and my mother’s side of the family, but there’s no denying I’ve always had a tendency to roll them. It was late in the season and the cool weather was turning the cross-country trails behind my high school into a canopy of oranges, yellows and browns.

I remember specifically finishing a speed drill with the team and beginning our cool down laps. I was tired and soar, and my running form sure as heck wasn’t up to par. The ground was uneven and rocky, and as my pack moved down a slope, I landed on my right foot wrong. I heard and felt the snapping sound simultaneously, and began to limp.

It wasn’t the first time I had rolled my ankle, but this one felt different.

Instead of taking it easy, I shook it off and caught up with my teammates.

That was my biggest mistake. I continued running until the pain of putting all my weight on it sent me to my knees.

My concerned mother took me to the doctor and it was determined I had tendentious, and possibly a stress fracture in my bone.

It turns out the latter was true, but dangerously close to it.

I was put on the exercise bike for the remainder of the season, missing a few crucial meets and the state championship.

Listen to your body. It’s something I’ve learned over the years to be 100 percent the right thing to do, 100 percent of the time.

If something doesn’t feel right, put aside the ego and make sure you’re healthy.

It’s never worth the worse injuries that will inevitably follow.