Post Injury Recovery and Antifragility


A little over a year ago I wrote about Injury Recovery from a pretty sever Cervical Spine Injury I sustained and how I had gone through the injury process and come out the other side. I’d like now to follow up on that as I’m approximately 18 months post incident.

First off let me be clear. Doctors told me I should not lift weights, that I should be taking pain killers, that maybe I should take up less demanding physical activities. I’m not going to say I didn’t listen to them, I grappled with the idea of what my life would be like without some of the endeavor’s I love. I mapped out what that felt like, and how I got through it in my prior post.

“My major hobby is teasing people who take themselves and the quality of their knowledge too seriously.”       -Nassim Taleb

I didn’t expect 18 months later I would hit PR’s on Squat , Bench, and Overhead Press. In fact I was directly told not to put a bar on my back again. Yet here I am. Now, I’m not putting up any seriously large numbers but I am measurably stronger than I was pre injury at the same body-weight.

I’ve also learned to work something into my Jiu Jitsu that I never did before, inversions! Now I used to look at “upside down spinny shit” as dumb, not my style, and not relevant to my needs. Now I’ve broadened my horizons. It’s not “my game” but it is part of Jiu Jitsu, and moreso than that it’s a movement in space the human body can do and I’m developing my ability to control my body in space in ways that I had not before. Now, I wont be spinning around under dudes that have 100lbs on me just yet, or looking to do so in less than favorable circumstances or with training partners I don’t trust not re injure me. But I am learning and moving in ways that I actively avoided before.

I would say things like “I have a bad neck” or “I cant move that way” and yet I’m now able to move and produce force in ways and positions I never could before.  So now I say things like “I’m learning” and “I’m making progress.”

I’m writing this now for a few reasons. One of which was after about 9 months when I was starting to actually train hard again I spoke to a friend of mine and I was so happy to be able to train again and I was in my head thinking this was as good as its going to get and I need to be thankful for it, and I AM. But he told me it wasn’t until 2 years until he really felt after his similar injury that he could  really go hard again.  That gave me hope, It let me know that I could get even better but just that the time frame was years. Years, and hard work. So I’d like to pass that hope on. I’m not merely recovering, I’m getting better and stronger than I was before. It’s the epitome of what this blog, this program of ours here is about – Antifragility.

Shawn Lupka





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