The Rehab Diaries: Placeholders

Let’s not kid ourselves, as I mentioned briefly several days ago, being benched with an injury can lead to feelings of isolation and restlessness, as often, our running partners are our support system, running itself is a balancing force and stress-reducer, and sometimes, we don’t realize how large a role our fitness plays in our lives until we’re rehabilitating from an injury and thus, prohibited from it.

My old running pal, Lydia, broke her leg a while back and was completely laid-up and off running for several months. Anytime she felt restless, or blue, or blah, or excluded from running with her regular running group, or when she just plain missed running, she did a very funny thing, and just today, she emailed to remind me of her trick. It’s very silly, but that’s part of the point. What did she do, you ask? She watched the opening scene from Chariots of Fire because, she says, “It is as flippin’ close to running with a group as you can get without, you know, running with a group.”

As I said, it feels a little silly to hear the themesong, as most of us probably have so many comedic associations with it by now. But in any case, Lydia has a point:

The Rehab Diaries: Tips To Address The Injury, Discomfort and Sleep Quality Connection

200140664-001When you’re uncomfortable, it’s hard to sleep. Duh. When our bodies are using energy to heal, the shift in the various physical processes make for disrupted sleep. And, what’s worse, a few nights of poor sleep because of discomfort from an injury leaves the body less-able to heal, then the injury keeps on as a source of discomfort, which leads to more sleeplessness and blah blah blah. You see where this is headed. Nowhere pretty, that’s where.

So, let’s review some healthy sleep habits to have in mind for times of injury and discomfort, for periods of insomnia and, well, just generally. Because good sleep is good for you. Not just good for you, but essential for health.

1. Limit caffeine intake, especially in the afternoon and evenings. Better yet, eliminate it after lunchtime, or entirely.

2. Lay off the sauce. Seriously. Passing out cold after a night of cocktails seems like deep sleep, but nay. It’s not going to be good sleep, and it’s not terribly helpful in the hydration department, either.

3. Don’t run wild right before bed. Keep it mellow in the evening, and wind down, easing yourself into a peaceful, sleepy state in the hours leading up to going to bed. Do get some sort of exercise during the earlier part of the day for optimal sleep, though during periods of injury that may not be possible or limited. Not the end of the world. That’ll come in time.

4. Try to sleep on your back. It’s the ideal sleeping position for your spine, your organs, bodily processes, all that good stuff. I know, easier said than done, too, but possible. I retrained myself to mostly sleep on my back in about a week, and it was no big deal. Give it a whirl. Shove a pillow under your lower back and/or knees if you need to, but give it a try.

5. Try to keep a regular sleep/wake schedule.

6. Minimize noise, light and excessive temperatures at night, though some experts insist it best to keep a room between 65 and 70 degrees to promote good sleep. Try, also, to avoid checking mobile devices and illuminated clock displays for the time, which can interfere with circadian rhythms and thus signal to the mind that it’s time to wake up.

7. If, after 20-20 minutes of trying to fall asleep, get up and do something low-key to switch your mind off instead of letting it race on and on about the sleep you wish you were getting. Repeat as needed throughout the night.

The Rehab Diaries: Ouch

car-crashWhile in Pittsburgh, I got into a car crash. Luckily it wasn’t my doing, and the other driver was insured and apologetic. But, the fact remains that something is wrong with my neck, ny hip, the right side of my torso and lower back. Granted, it could have been far worse– far worse, as I did make my way home to Chicago the following day solo via rental car–but I did get a bit banged up.

I’ll spare you the specifics, but after a visit with trusted Dr. V & The Wellness Crew and some x-rays, I’ve bought myself a one-way ticket to quite a bit of physical therapy and rehabilitation. Quite a bit. Holy cow. It’s a lot, but I need it and I know it.

I’m disappointed; a few days before the accident I ran the strongest and fastest miles of my entire life. But, I’m going to make the best of it, come back stronger and better and just as active and healthy as ever. But, it might suck in the interim. I’ll keep you posted.