Earlier this month UFC heavyweight Shane Carwin announced his retirement from the UFC and sport of mixed martial arts. The announcement was unexpected from fans and the media alike, but it's something Carwin put a lot of thought into and seems to be content with his decision:
Carwin's decision had been a few months in the making, precipitated by a knee injury that sidelined him from a headlining bout against fellow Ultimate Fighter 16 coach Roy Nelson last December. The final confirmation came in the form of a letter from Carwin's spine surgeon, who recommended he step down from combat sports' competition entirely.
"Once the knee got better, I tried to go back to training and had problems with my spine, my lower back.," said Carwin. "That [letter] obviously made the decision for me, for us."
With all said and done, Carwin walks away from professional sports with six bulging and an additional three ruptured discs. He's also developed foraminal stenosis and arthritis.
Foraminal stenosis, which narrows the passage that the spinal cord runs through and constricts on the nerve roots, carries symptoms like numbness, weakness, burning sensations, tingling and "pins and needles" in the arms and legs. This and Carwin's arthritis made for some uncomfortable-to-excruciating training sessions at Denver's Grudge Training Center over the last few years, as he prepared for bouts against Gabriel Gonzaga, Frank Mir and Brock Lesnar. Still, each practice Carwin cringed through allowed the lifelong athlete one more day to participate in a sport he loved.
"What was tough for me was sports are what I've done since age six, so I struggled with that for a little bit," said Carwin. "[But at the same time,] I felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders because it has been a struggle these last two, three, four years being in pain all of the time."
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