Perseverance Post, Issue #1: Finding Motivation to Get Back on the Horse

Here at Tiyaga Health our goal is to support everyone on their road to injury recovery and part of that support comes from offering tips and tricks to the recovery process. What better way to do so than by sharing the stories and experiences of real people who have struggled with injuries themselves?

We hope you can use these #perseveranceposts as a way to learn from the wisdom of others and maybe find new ways to motivate yourself and manage your recovery.  And to help remember you are not alone in your struggles!


We hope you enjoy our wonderful, first interviewee, Sarah. We have highlighted some of the most inspiring lessons.

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Please introduce yourself.

Hi! I’m a sophomore in college, studying Computer Science. My favorite things include iced coffee, waterfalls, kayaking, and Chick-fil-A chicken nuggets. In my spare time, you can probably find me taking a power nap, binge watching Grey’s Anatomy, or in the student section at a football/basketball game

Please share your injury story.

I was in a horseback riding accident right before my sophomore year of high school. When my horse took off bucking for about 30 seconds, I unfortunately stayed on and suffered immediate pain in my lower back from the jarring of his actions. The doctors weren’t able to diagnose me with one particular thing, but rather just chronic lower back pain due to nerve damage. Thankfully, my pain has gotten a lot better since the incident, but I still have to work at managing it every day

What types of things did you do for recovery?

Over the past four years or so, I have tried SO many different things to try and help my pain – some definitely a bigger success than others. I’ve had two different surgeries: a nerve block and an epidural. Both made my pain worse due to the sensitivity of my back, so we considered options besides surgery. I went through a lot, lot, lot of Physical Therapy! In addition, I also tried Hydrotherapy (basically PT in the pool), Craniosacral Therapy (sort of like a massage), Yoga (specifically Iyengar Yoga – it was more focused on healing than your normal hot yoga class that many people enjoy), and I also did some Hippotherapy (not with real live hippo’s, it’s a form of PT on horseback). Because of the nerve damage and sensitivity of my back, I did a lot of desensitization to help decrease pain when something touched my back. We tried a few different home remedies, like ice, heat, and KT Tape. I was also on a variety of different medicines.

What have you found to be most helpful during your recovery?

cropped-kaboompics_grey-sport-shoes.jpgThe most successful combination for me was a mix of Physical Therapy, Craniosacral Therapy, and knowing my body and my limits. I’m not in PT anymore, but I try to incorporate a lot of the exercises I learned into my workouts at the gym. Staying active and keeping my back and core muscles strong have really helped my pain. That goes hand in hand with knowing my body, however. When my injury and pain were really bad at the beginning, a lot of all I did was just lay in bed and rest, which actually kind of made my pain worse. Now, I try to be pretty active (which isn’t too hard in college, given that some of my classes were a 25 minute walk away), but I have to be careful to not push myself too hard, because I’ve also found it’s really easy to “relapse” into more pain when I’ve done too much and not taken any time to rest! Its all about balancing your activity, managing your pain, and doing what works best for you. 

It’s all about balancing your activity, managing your pain, and doing what works best for you.

Are there any unexpected positives that have come out of your injury or injury recovery process?

I was forced to pay attention to my body and how I was treating it. I also learned to really, really love to take naps.

What is your top tip for people recovering from physical pain or injuries? 

For anyone who is a student, I know that it can be really hard to be around your peers constantly who are healthy. At the beginning of my injury, I couldn’t even stay at school for more than half of a day, which not only was hard to explain to my friends, but made it hard for me to keep up in classes. But, my high school was excellent about offering accommodations, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help. It made it easier knowing that my teachers knew what I was going through and were flexible if I had to miss class or a test and would help me catch up! The same goes for in college. I reached out to our support center for those with disabilities, and they were able to provide me with similar accommodations to high school. Don’t be afraid to seek out help and take advantage of it because it can help SO much as a student!

Don’t be afraid to seek out help and take advantage of it…! 

What is your top tip for staying motivated to recover?

I think because of the nature of my injury, I was constantly motivated to recover so that I wasn’t in as much pain constantly. I just wanted to be “normal” again. I was lucky to find a great team of doctors who were always coming up with new ideas to help my recovery. When I started to see even just small improvements, it encouraged me to keep working harder because being in less pain was worth it!

When I started to see even just small improvements, it encouraged me to keep working harder because being in less pain was worth it!

What did you do to stay optimistic about your injury recovery? 

I honestly struggled with this. I’d be lying if I said I was optimistic from the start. However, I had a great support system of my parents and my closest friends who pushed me to become more optimistic. They’re probably the reason I’ve gotten to the point in my recovery where I am today.

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