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It was a while into my appointment before I came clean. I was having my shoulder looked at, having injured it lifting some bad-ass weights which were, frankly, too heavy for me (I’d been showing off; I can’t deny it).

Finally I came out with it. “I’m… a rower”.

“Ah”, said the osteopath. “And how long have you been rowing?”

“Two years”, I admitted.

“Aha. Right. Yes,” said the osteopath, with a look that conveyed deep understanding.

I braced myself for the usual lecture on overdoing things. Instead, she looked at me intently.

“Listen”, she said. “If you couldn’t take a lot of pain, you wouldn’t have stuck with rowing for two years. You empty your legs at the beginning of the race, and then it’s just sheer pain. If you’re used to that level of pain, it can be hard to distinguish between ordinary pain and pain from an injury”, she went on.

So, are we rowers our own worst enemies? Is our tolerance to pain often masking the beginnings of an injury? Is that why so many of my rowing friends are nursing different ailments?

Whatever. For someone who’s always considered herself a bit of a wimp, I came away feeling pretty damned hard.

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Just found this interesting and thought you might, too: the GB team’s efforts to stay injury-free.

Now, for those of us who don’t row at international level, dealing with every little niggle straight away is a luxury we can’t always afford, but I do think there’s something even the cronkiest club rower can take away from this, even if we can’t MRI scan every ache and pain. How often do we ignore a twinge and let it develop into something more problematic? Do we stretch religiously after every erg? Do we work hard enough on our core muscles?

Maybe we owe it to ourselves (and our crew mates) to be more conscientious.

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