Becoming Dysfunctional



December 13th 2015 marked the 2 year anniversary (?! – not sure on my choice of word there) of my accident…for those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, the accident in question was Friday 13th December 2013 where I broke my elbow, shattered the humorous, tore the ligaments and dislocated my elbow requiring reconstructive surgery, a bionic arm and a ton of dry needling, in a kipping pull up scenario – i’ll tell that story another day.

I thought it would be a pretty big milestone given that every friend, specialist and fellow injured pal had said it would show me how successful my recovery had been. A defining moment. Whatever the state my elbow was in would be the way I’d have to cope with the rest of my life.

So you can image that building up to this date I was pretty apprehensive. I HAD to make sure I had full range of motion in my arm or I’d be injured and stuck there FOR LIFE. Quite a stressful deadline, especially during the times where I still couldn’t touch my face, hair or feed myself with my right arm, there were moments when I genuinely wondered if I’d ever be able to lift my arm above my head without it looking like I constantly trying to wave or high 5 people all the time haha!

December 13th came, and went, but nothing changed. There was no life changing moment, celebration, commiseration, consolation, nothing! Annoying really when you spend 2 years building up to that moment.

December 14th I decided to take some time to reflect. I wanted to understand why, when the 2 year mark had come and gone and I didn’t feel a thing, nothing!

Then it dawned on me, around early July last year after a 12 month hiatus from CrossFit due to the injury, I began a new training programme, the Gym Jones 3 month foundational programme. I was fed up with not being able to do a lot of the CrossFit movements because of my limited range of motion and training in a Globo gym, so this seemed like a good alternative programme to get me moving and training regularly again.

Going into these sessions was pretty stressful, I was full of tons of doubts, negativity and assumptions of my ability without even trying, using the line, “I’m injured, I can’t do that”, as quick as someone taking your order at McDonalds would ask “Do you want fries with that?”. To the frustrations of my incredibly supportive other half, after around 2 weeks we’d finally reached a blow out moment where, I can’t, was no longer acceptable.

In his (brave) wise words, “nobody gives a shit about what you used to be able to do or that your injured”. Whoa. He was right.

IMG_7965Nobody cared, and rightly so, because their care and concerns are with themselves. I’m not sure if I was waiting for a medal of honour or one for bravery or something to recognise my efforts with my ‘injury’ – note the use of inverted commas there – something to give me the seal of approval that I couldn’t do some movements and that I wasn’t half as strong as I used to be, which, by the way, was complete BS. I was strong, stronger in almost every way!.

As the weeks ticked over I was smashing out 4-6 training sessions per week, moving weights I’d never touched before, and this was down to the fact that I had shifted from “I can’t” to seeing what I could actually do with zero reference or comparison to my past. I just picked up the weights, if it happened amazing, if it didn’t I would adjust the movement or weight. The result of this new attitude culminated in an epic test of my newly found ability and fitness by cycling the 200mile round trip to Amsterdam, running a half marathon with just 24 hours to rest, all in 4 days. And yes, I completed it, kept up with the pros and PB’d my half marathon time…this came with an incredible amount of support with bag carrying from the team which I’m forever grateful for as it meant I got to experience a challenge and go through some amazing highs and lows. Character building for sure.

So where does the elbow fit into all of this? Well, it didn’t really, it just wasn’t even an issue anymore. I went from claiming I couldn’t do anything because of the injury, to completely eliminating if from my vocabulary (except 5 days prior to the Amsterdam trip where I got shit scared and used it as an excuse not to go!) and doing more then I ever thought possible.

I shifted my vocabulary and perception of the entire situation. 

When I came back from Amsterdam I was determined to short my elbow, a now serious shoulder problem and scoliosis in my lumber curve, all by products of my recovery. I started mobilising everyday, I started seeing a Physio again who on more then one occasion during our session got my arm straight. I pushed the boundaries and stopped using a now non existent injury as a means to testing my newly found fitness.

Everyday I work with clients who have imbalances, dysfunctional movement patterns and chronic mobility challenges. Not once have we ever used the words “injury” or “I can’t”. I needed to apply the same approach to myself. I now see my elbow as a mobility challenge like anyone would with a hip impingement or tight calf.

I love being dysfunctional. I’m not injured, which is why when it came to December 13th 2015, there was no reason to mark the occasion because regardless of the state of my elbow, it didn’t make a blind bit of difference to where I was and what I was doing on that day.

IMG_9537And where am I now? Around 2-3 degrees from full extension, not bad considering my specialist said the best I could hope for was 5 degrees at most!



  • An injury is only an injury if you think is so. Do yourself a favour, shift the mindset and vocabulary and call it dysfunctional movement pattern once you’ve got over the initial bloody, cuts and bruises.
  • Don’t play the victim, there is zero benefit in doing so, and truly, no one really cares about you in the way you would like them to except you, harsh, but true.
  • Your past does not affect your present or future, unless you decide to let it.




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