When Amy Hart’s friend called her in 2013 to see if she wanted to go out on the weekend, she couldn’t believe Hart’s excuse.
A week earlier, she’d been in Perth. But in the space of two days, Hart had moved to Thailand to take up work as a remedial massage therapist and train at a remote muay thai camp.
Training in muay thai in Thailand is not for the faint-hearted. Hart had no access to social media and she would spend her days either sweating it out in the ring or helping injured fighters in their rehabilitation.
Ultimately, she spent around three and a half years in these settings, and would only return home to renew her visa. Muay thai was, and remains, an all-encompassing addiction for Hart.
“It’s crazy. You go there every day and you know you’re going to get punched in the face, and then you’re friends with that person, but I loved it,” she told Yahoo Finance.
“You literally wake up in the morning, you train, you go for a run, you train again and that’s all you do. It was unreal.”
Muay thai is a brutal sport. It’s known as the art of the eight limbs: there are eight points of potential contact with fists, knees, elbows and legs all at play.
And for Hart, this resulted in inevitable injuries. She broke bones in her feet, her hands and her nose.
But it was her injuries to her shoulder and hip that spelled real trouble for her love affair with muay thai.
“I tore my rotator cuff. I did my left shoulder and my right hip, very, very close together. I literally couldn't do anything like I couldn't box and I couldn't kick,” she said.
The first time she tried training with the injury, she threw a punch at her coach.
He slipped the blow, and her whole shoulder fell out of its socket.
Her hip injury would send waves of pain ricocheting up her leg every time she tried to kick, and at her worst, she could barely even walk.
“It was literally impossible to train.”
She desperately needed to take a break from muay thai, and she needed to learn a lesson: slow down and stop overtraining.
“I’m like your perfect example of an overtrainer. I think I knew that my body was being run-down, but I was still going,” she said.
“I’d wake up in the morning and then do yoga and then go for a run and then do two and a half hours of muay thai and then maybe you’d do some training with weapons during the day, then do another two and a half hours of muay thai in the afternoon, then do some more yoga and go to sleep.”
The process of healing from the injuries is still underway, but the majority of the healing was done through a combination of needling, chiropractic therapy and electronic muscle stimulation (EMS).
It took years before she could practice her muay thai without experiencing any pain.
“I still remember the first time I made it through a full session just hitting the bags and I had no pain during it and no pain afterwards. You could break into tears, that’s how happy I was, because it was my life for so long,” she said.
While she still gets niggling pain if she has been sitting too much, she knows that she can heal it as long as she treats her body with the respect it deserves.
That means stretching, doing her yoga, seeking professional help and hitting pause when she’s going too hard. But it doesn’t mean stopping altogether.
“You need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable, that’s the way you grow,” she said.
“If you don’t want to do it, that’s when you definitely get out there and do it.”
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