Things I've Learned While Injuring Myself Vol. 2

by Sean St. Onge

From 1999 to 2011 I was a professional wrestler. I didn't say a good or great one. I just saw my fair share of bumps and bruises while rocking some serioulsy sweet spandex and tassels. Along the way, post wrestling, I learned a great amount through my profession as a coach and trainer about how to deal, and more importantly, treat my body.


Injuries are a great way for us all to focus on problem solving while learning a mental lesson of pushing through to keep moving with our lives because, as we all know, we have to keep going. 

Understanding what each injury means and how to address it individually will create a toolbox for us all to use as a resource for when they happen again. Believe me. They will happen again.

Last time I wrote on injuring myself I spoke about how to address teh upper body for pressing. So what did I do to myself this time you ask? 

If you follow me and/or train with me either in Rhode Island at 212 Health and Performance or even online, you would know how much I champion SMR (self myofascial release) and massage therapy when you simply cannot do it for yourself. Attacking your body on a foam roller and/or P-Knot are some of my favorite things to teach.

So heeding my own advice would probably be a good concept, huh?

Yeah, apparently no so much.

Begat last Monday. I simply could NOT walk on my right foot. It felt like I had a grand piano dropped on my foot. What had I done to it you say? Nothing. I didn't jump off a building, I didn't run a marathon. I didn't really do anything of note. 

I will preface and say aloud, "I was wrong". Initially I thought the worst and assumed I must have gout. It is a hereditary issue and my uncles suffer from it. So that MUST be the issue.

After about 4 days of walking (limping) around I finally went to my be-all end-all of resources. My friend and mentor, Dr. Vincent Brunelle. If I haven't mentioned him to you and/or outsourced you to him I have done you a disservice. 

In all seriousness, I do believe all coaches and trainers should have a go-to group of professionals to outsource to for when the coach or trainer simply has to say, "I don't have the answer, here is someone who might." Much like I believe everybody should have a "circle of genius" to surround themselves with to keep yourself accountable and constantly push you to be better. That is what Dr. Brunelle is for me. But he is also my Chiropractor who thinks outside the box.

So after a general assessment he was able to find that my issue was not, in fact, gout-related, yet did not rule it out and only blood testing and direct needle work to the bone would tell that. I was relieved, to say the least, because I have worked with clients that have gout and I can only surmise that pain is something I would prefer not having. The good doctor showed me what the issue was and how to treat myself. 

As shown in some of the pictures, I was having trouble with my heels. Neither one had great range of motion specifically inversion and eversion of the heel. These movements are important when the foot strikes the ground and distributes the weight of the body into the foot landing. The issue was lack of help from the anterior tibialis muscle on both legs. Sadly, due to not doing enough self-assessment and soft tissue work on this muscle group allowed my feet to take the brunt of the pain as these muscles became "gummed up" from not releasing them and allowing other muscles in the foot to overwork and become inhibited. Hence the failure of motion in the heels. 

How to check if your feet and shins are properly working? Can you move your heels side to side? Can you flex all your toes up and down and squeeze them? 

The lesson of my failure was this:

  • Continue to self-assess your body when doing your foam rolling/P-Knotting/self-myofascial release (SMR). If your body hurts while going through your regimen of drills on a foam roller, stay on that area and go slowly. Do not rush and roll over these tender spots fast as you will only excite the area and not allow a proper release which is needed to allow that muscle group to properly fire and work in concert with the body. If an area of the body does not hurt, move on to the next group.
  • Do your SMR daily, even dare I say twice a day. If the goal of your day is to move well without a hitch, and exert your body during exercise or work, then optimally do your assessment and soft tissue release in the morning and just before bed. Doing your SMR before bed is key and can help with a more restful sleep.

Summing it up. Close yourselves off in padded rooms with your bodies covered in bubble wrap and avoid any and all physical contact with everything and everyone! Just kidding. Be diligent and consistent on your daily body assessments. Attack and be preventative to avoid potential injuries. Until the next time I hurt myself...