Listen to your body

By MaryTherese GriffinOctober 20, 2023

2023 DoD Warrior Games Challenge Track
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Kaylin McClendon, Team Army, celebrate after a track event during the 2023 Department of Defense Warrior Games, June 6, 2023. The DoD Warrior Games Challenge is comprised of over 200 wounded, ill and injured service members and veteran athletes, competing in 11 adaptive sporting events June 2-12, 2023, at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, Calif. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class George M. Bell) (Photo Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class George Bell)
Listen to your body
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Army Sgt Kaylin McClendon of Team Army signs volleyballs on the last day of competition at the 2023 Department of Defense Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego Calif. (Photo Credit: MaryTherese Griffin)

FALLS CHURCH, Va.- We’ve all been there. We feel a pain somewhere in our body, and we dismiss it. Perhaps it keeps happening, and we then justify it and keep going. Army Sgt. Kaylin Mc Clendon fit that description when it came to her back pain.

“That came to a screeching halt when I was in Korea. They couldn’t help me much with my back pain, so I was sent to the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) Soldier Recovery Unit in San Antonio, Texas, in August of 2022.”

The Medical Logistics Sergeant had years of wear and tear on her back, she admits, because she ignored warning signs. She is now in the medical board process and will retire from the Army.

“I was always the hooah-hooah Soldier; I could do anything! But…I did not listen to my body; I was always into training and sports. I even played softball for the Army in the DMV.”

At BAMC, she learned about pain management and how to train differently. She said going to the SRU was a great resource when you are in a quandary over not being able to function as the Soldier you are supposed to be.

“You can adapt. You discover different maneuvers, training, etc., that you can do. It’s a hard process. They couldn't figure out the best treatment for me. I would do things with the Army as well as on the outside. I would get help with stretches, massages, and stuff like that. All of this to help cope with the pain.”

Before being able to manage her pain, Mc Clendon wondered about how physical she could be, being that she was always an athlete. She also discovered adaptive sports while at the SRU. She says it's more than just adaptive sporting activity.

“I was nervous about it, but being around like-minded people has been great. We help each other out and are all rooting for each other,” said McClendon.

She had many comrades rooting for her at the 2023 Warrior Games Challenge in San Diego, California, last June, where she competed on Team Army in track and field and team sports.

“To do that with my fellow Soldiers, especially on my way out, meant so much. It’s my last hooah- hooah,” she says proudly.

She said if she could do it all over again, she would listen to her advice for others today.

“Listen to your body. Sports will always be there. The job will always be there. For you to enjoy and get to where you want to be, listen to your body. It’s nothing to take a short doctor’s appointment to see what’s going on. “