- Growing Up Bronx
As many of you know, I’ve been living with and dealing with a range of injuries in my body. I’ve got herniated discs in my neck, unidentified issues in my lower back, knee pain, wrist pain, and shoulder pain. These are the major injuries, but on any given day, I can experience ankle pain, other knee pain, finger or toe discomfort, elbow pain, and so on.
Over the years, I’ve worked with various physical therapists, doctors, and alternative medicine practitioners. Strangely enough, not a single one of them managed to help or resolve any of my pains or injuries. It’s been a case of either my body healing itself or me simply learning to live with the pain.
Then came Open Mat Physio, a physical therapy team focused on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, intending to get you back on the mats. I’ve spent about six months working with them, under the guidance of Diana Wang, and in terms of progress and results, this team has given me the most improvement. I’m not 100% healed, but I’m functional and much better than when I started.
In all fairness to other therapists, this was the first time I stuck with a physical therapy regimen for six months without faltering or quitting. Every workout was meticulously tracked and monitored, from reps to weight. There was strong accountability and constant communication from Diana whenever I had questions. This unique approach to physical therapy played a significant role in the success I’ve experienced with them.
My lower back is now pain-free, as long as I stick to the prescribed exercises at least three times a week, although I typically do them four times or more now that I’m back to training on my own. If I miss the workouts, the pain comes back with a vengeance. MRIs didn’t show any lower back disc issues, so I have no idea what’s wrong there. Nevertheless, I’d probably avoid surgery if I could. So, the workouts help, and that’s what I’m focusing on.
I’ve taken the lessons provided by Diana and incorporated them into my workout routines. For instance, last week, I went a bit heavy on a lift. Instead of pushing through it like I used to, I scaled the weight down and kept going. In a few weeks, I’ll work my way back up to that weight. There’s nothing to prove, and I’m looking for long-term results. I wish I had known this when I was younger; I might not be dealing with these issues now.
My main reason for reaching out to Diana was to address my neck pain. It can be incredibly debilitating, and as I mentioned earlier, I’m trying to avoid surgery. Despite our best efforts, my neck pain is still present, and unfortunately, we couldn’t completely get rid of it. However, the frequency of flare-ups and the intensity of the pain have improved. I use THC daily to manage the lingering pain, which I find much safer than taking opioids, meloxicam, steroids, or other NSAIDs. These drugs come with their own set of problems, and I don’t need to compound my situation further.
My time working with Diana at Open Mat Physio has been fruitful, and I’ve acquired lessons that I’ll continue to apply in my life. I feel a bit down about losing the dedicated support, but that’s the way it goes. I was laid off and I don’t have an unlimited supply of money, so at some point, I needed to continue on my own. I did just land a new job, so maybe I can work something out going forward, I do value her coaching greatly.
As I mentioned before, I’m not completely healed, but I’m in a much better place and significantly stronger than when I started. I’m gradually reintroducing weightlifting into my routine, and I’ve reduced the number of times I need to take medication. I’ve even stopped using supportive items like ankle wraps because I don’t need them as often.
Diana will be the first to tell you that she’s not a magician and can’t miraculously fix you. You might never be 100% again, but she believes that if you put in the work and stay consistent, you can get better and reduce your pain. I am living proof of that. Progress not perfection.
Open Mat Physio is dedicated to grapplers like me, but whether you’re into grappling or not, they can be an excellent resource to consult if you have an injury. The way they approach physical therapy is a great method to stay consistent and committed. That, in itself, has been a valuable lesson I’ve taken away from my time with them. I highly recommend getting in touch with Diana at Open Mat Physio.
Just a life long New Yorker sharing the journey through my lens. Please take note of a post’s date. The views I express here are subject to change and evolving as I grow and learn.