I used to be an athlete who lived in pain. Trainings during my D1 soccer years would leave me crying because my shin splints hurt so bad. My shoulders existed in a constant state of ache and my back would give out to an extent that the guys at Triggit would simply ask how my “Avatar” was feeling. I lived hurt. Of course, my rationalization was that it wasn’t so bad, it was just an “ache”. Still, I dreaded the future arthritis that was sure to set in. A future that would make me pay for all the fun I’ve had in my young life. I thought I knew the cause, 25+ years of competitive & extreme sports, and a shoulder that was injured skiing in Kitzbuhel when I was 15. And I thought I had to live with it. The surgery prognosis was always marginal, and none of the thousands of dollars I spent on ART, Chiro, Massage, Acupuncture, or even Yoga ever really made it better. My friends would laugh at whose turn it was to give me a shoulder rub, or just press on my back. But they did it, and I kept chasing it. Soccer, Skis, Kites, Downhill Bikes. I was a businesswoman who thought pain or not I was an X-Games athlete on the weekends. Then my dear friend, Dr. Laura Kearsly had enough. She told me to get my ass into surgery and get my shoulder fixed, result be damned. Dr. Belzer sort of couldn’t believe I was playing the sports I was with a shoulder as fucked as it was, but the MRI proved the damage. It’s been almost two years since that awesome day. I’m still in physical therapy with my kick ass therapist Tim Drobnick. Twice a week I stretch and strengthen little tiny muscles I didn’t know existed. And little by little the pain has faded away. The waking up with numb hands clenched in a fist, the piercing pain shooting through my shoulders or headaches that just wouldn’t go away – they’re all gone. Today, I would call this living pain free. Well, I mean, sort of. I still think I’m an X-Games athlete so I still break myself all the time, but I’m a believer in the power of those little tiny exercises and in the power of Physical Therapy. Turns out all my pain started in my shoulder on that fateful day in Austria, but over the years the rest of me compensated for the injury. My poor neck tried to do the job of my left shoulder and seized up. So it sent shooting pains into my right shoulder and numbed my hands. Then the discs in my back tried to help, and they bulged and exhausted. So then my hips kicked in, down into my legs, and finally my shins. Next time you tolerate that pain in your knees, or that pinch in your back, and you blame it on just growing old, or think you can just power through the pain, stop yourself. Ask if you want to fix it, and if you do, try finding a great PT who will really believe in you. I’m astounded by the results. Massage is great, and acupuncture makes me smile, but today I believe that it’s the slow methodical work of building up all my muscles, however little, that makes the rest of me work, and makes me strong. Best of all, today I not only live pain free, but I’m skiing faster, climbing hills on my bike with power, and playing soccer better then I’ve played in over a decade. My fitness might be shit, but my body is stoked! I have setbacks, and Tim often puts me back together, but recoveries are faster, the results better. And I finally understand, it didn’t have to be that way, your health is the most important thing, and change is possible.