Sunday, April 30, 2017

Staying Active During an Injury

Hi, guys!

Many of you have been following my journey of staying active through my hip injury, and, today, I thought I’d dive into a little more detail about what this was like – and how frustrating and draining it can be! I am grateful I was able to keep up with daily exercise routine (when my schedule allowed), but it definitely required a mindshift and different way of approaching my workouts. I hope this post helps some of you in the same situation!

Back in November, after running the South Shore Half Marathon, I messed up my hip. I had trained for weeks and weeks leading up to the race, but the hills on the race course KILLED ME. I was trucking along as happy as can be until the end of mile 10 or so when I started to feel some pain in my hip. I thought it was a little weird, but I’ve had hip problems in the past and it didn’t hurt all that much, so I pushed through. I finished the race without a ton of pain, but, holy hell, the next day it hurt. I figured it was just a minor overuse injury and would get better in no time. I thought if I took a few days off from exercise, I’d be good to go.

Well, after a few days, my hip was still bothering me. I didn’t think it was that bad, but I knew I needed to take it easy. Another couple of days passed without much improvement, and I got sick of waiting for it to get better. I’m definitely someone who craves exercise, and if I don’t sweat at least a few times per week, I’m not myself. I feel anxious, cranky, and just overall blah. I need fitness in my life! Basically, I didn’t want to wait weeks and weeks for my hip to fully heal. I figured if I just took it easy, it would get better.

My hip eventually did get better (thanks to about 8 weeks of physical therapy), but I wanted to share a few thoughts on working out through an injury. I know this “advice” probably isn’t what some health professionals would recommend, but I know that some of you share my same feelings about exercise and agree that’s there’s some sort of middle ground that works for each person. With that, here’s what kept me active with a bum hip for nearly four months.

The #1 thing that helped me workout during an injury was not doing what hurt me. I know… this probably seems like such a ‘duh’ piece of advice, but thinking about some of my first running-related injuries, I just kept running through them. No wonder I didn’t get better! This time, I hung up my running sneakers and found other ways to stay active. I ended up at CrossFit quite a bit more and often modified exercises that would stress out my hip (i.e. high-volume squats, box jumps). I was able to do most workouts, but I really paid attention to what might further aggravate my injury. Maintaining a regular exercise routine, even though I wasn’t running, actually didn’t impact my overall fitness level. Just a couple of weeks ago, I ran a 25-minute 5K, which was less than a minute slower than my PR. Not too shabby for barely running in recent months!

Along the same lines… “cherry picking” my workouts and even making up my own were key to exercising without further injuring my hip. I checked the WOD online the night before CrossFit and then would decide if I could safely complete or modify the workout. If not, I’d create my own workout with hip-friendly movements in mind and do it at the gym or at-home.

And because I’m impatient, there were several times that I pushed too hard, like going to Orangetheory before my hip was fully healed. During the workout, my hip felt fine, but the aftermath was awful. The next day, my hip was SO SORE. Holy cow, I felt like such a dummy. I basically undid all of the healing progress I’d made up until that point. I’m telling you this because being patient is very important to the recovery process. It’s not worth pushing yourself to take a step back.

Going to physical therapy ultimately got me over the hump of recovering from my hip injury. I went for 8 weeks, twice a week to start and then just once a week when things started to improve. We spent a lot of time stretching my tight hip (my diagnosis was iliopsoas tendonitis) and strengthening my core and gluteus medius (aka side butt). My therapist gave me stretches and exercises to perform at home, and I was religious about doing them just about every day. They really made a huge difference in my recovery, and I still do them a couple of times a week.

And, finally, I used a mantra that I picked up from one of my Orangetheory coaches to get me through this time: “It’s your workout, not mine.” At the end of the day, you need to do what’s right for YOU. Sure, I wanted to run inclines on the treadmill or beast-mode WODs to really challenge myself, but I knew for sure that would destroy my hip. It’s all about knowing and listening to your body and appreciating what you are able to do. A minor injury is one thing, but if you’re in great pain or it interferes with your everyday life, it’s not worth it and time to take a break (and see a doctor).

Question of the Day

What are your thoughts on working out through injuries? 

 

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