The first weekend I moved to Salt Lake City some new friends kindly invited me to a hot spring. When we got to the trailhead I realized I was underprepared. Apparently everyone in Utah during the winter uses these things called “micro spikes,” which are are little metal spikes that you pull over your shoes to give you traction walking on ice or snow.

In our group of 4, I was the only one without them. The trail was pretty thickly iced over, but I made it to the hot springs just fine with walking poles although hike out was less uneventful. After walking over 3 miles on the ice, my confidence was growing and I was getting the hang of managing my center of gravity on the slippery surface.

As the sun dipped below the horizon, the ice hardened and grew slicker by the minute. We approached one short downhill section, and with confidence I stepped down, expecting to slide a little bit. I started sliding, but gained speed too quickly and I felt my center of balance lose control. Luckily one of my friends was just at the bottom ready to catch me, but when he did he pushed my left arm back far enough for me to feel a pop. My shoulder had slipped out of its socket briefly and luckily popped right back in. I felt fluids rushing into the core of my shoulder as it began to ache.

I’ve pulled ankles, overextended wrists and knees, and had my fair share of minor physical annoyances, but this was my first ever tear. The pain endured long enough for me to get it checked out. The MRI showed two small tears in my labrum, the gasket-like ligament that lines the shoulder ball joint. My brother had surgery for the very same injury a few years ago, though his was much more severe. My doctor recommended that if I strengthen my rotator cuff, the system of muscles that controls most shoulder and arm movements, it would take pressure off my labrum and allow it to heal.

I did my exercises every day, visited the therapist twice a week, and slowly my shoulder started feeling better. After about 2 months my shoulder felt almost as if it never happened. I’m amazed at the body’s dynamic nature and its ability to heal itself over time.

My dad just had surgery to fuse three of his lower vertebrae together, so the past few days I’ve been helping him get around at home and it reminded me of my shoulder injury. Not that my minor shoulder blip is at all comparable to major back surgery, but since it was luckily the only serious physical injury I’ve really had, it was my main point of reference for injury and recovery. Makes me pretty grateful to have a body that works, and also motivated to take care of it.

Want more stories like this? Sign up below and I’ll send you a new one every Friday.