Early morning hours

It’s funny to me how I started Bonkless to write about running and fitness tips and tricks, and here it’s become all about my injury and path back to fitness lately. Eh well, I believe in letting blogs expand into different areas as they please, so in any event, here we are.

I was at the gym at 7 a.m. this morning for a hard upper body, cardio and abs workout, which was great. I love starting the day both ahead of schedule and with a workout. As my workout buddy says of working out first thing int he morning, “You’ll already have done the hardest thing you’re going to do all day.”

Plus, there is something really satisfying to me about being up, dressed and out of the house before the sun comes up, don’t you think?

The Rehab Diaries: Slap Happy

Want to know what else to do when off running and working out and strictly prohibited from any challenging activity besides physical therapy?

You scour the web for completely ridiculous fitness video clips, that’s what.

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: Fight The Bonk

rehabilitationWhen recovering from an injury, we are confronted with just how large a role running anf fitness plays in our lives. For many of us, a strong and healthy sense of well-being is highly intertwined with an active and healthy lifestyle, in whatever form that may take. And, many of use rely on running and gym time as our number one activity for stress reduction. When injured and ordered off of activity, it can deal quite a blow to a person’s sense of well-being, bring about a restless feeling, a decrease in ability to cope with physical or emotional stress, or, technically speaking, welcome in a big ol’ case of the blahs.

In the fifteen days since a car accident did a number on my hip and lower back, I’ve been limited to only physical therapy. Is that sufficing as my euphoria, my balance, my workout, my feel-good, my stress-reliever? Even with a great upbeat physical therapy team, doing all of my prescribed activity homework and with working hard at each appointment I can honestly say: Hells to the no it does not. In fifteen days, here is what I am learning about keeping one’s lid on during long periods of mandatory rest.

1. Don’t put all eggs in one basket. We’ve all heard this one and we all know it’s true in almost every situation. Yet, we often ignore it. I’m asking you– nay, pleading with you– to have some healthy interest that can be done at rest.

2. No pain, no gain doesn’t really apply in physical therapy. Yes, one must work hard in physical therapy appointments and do at-home activities as prescribed to see results. True. But, when re-strengthening to rehabilitate an injury resist the urge to “push through it” and blah blah blah. Listen to your body. An injury that lands your butt in physical therapy isn’t the same as a stiff calm muscle that warms up by mile five.

3. Work your butt off. This might sound counter to item 2 on this list, but it isn’t. Listen to your body, use your head, communicate with your physical therapist, show commitment and work your butt off. Also, ask your physical therapist regularly during your rehabilitation about other activities you can safely do, or other areas of the body you can safely strengthen.

4. Communicate with your physical therapist. I can’t stress this enough. Just mention new stuff, changing stuff, improving stuff, things you notice in your day-to-day routine and identify and break-down movement patterns. It matters.

5. Spend time imagining your wins. Sounds hokey, but it’s not. You’re presumably going to be resting a lot during your rehabilitation, so use the time to your advantage and imagine yourself having small successes– in physical therapy, when you return to training or at your next race once cleared for activity again. It might feel silly at first, but mental preparation is no small feat.

6. Do homework to stay in the loop. Check out fitness events, races, various training approaches, expos, lectures, seminars, books, workshops and all sorts of things so you can (a) not feel excluded during your rehabilitation and (b) channel your energy into getting some serious research done.

7. Expect success but plan for setbacks. This one is the hardest, because we so badly want to think positively, but I’ll admit that I didn’t plan for my first of now two setbacks in physical therapy and the first one really got to me and made me crabby. Sometimes, when working to re-strengthen one area, the body will counter-act and attempt to balance itself out, or another muscle group will be working overtime to compensate for the injury and begin to show signs of fatigue or injury. Or, sometimes, a phenomenon called “retracing” can occur during the healing process that involves the body backtracking to the point where it started to lose function before it can heal. Whatever the case, it sucks hard but the best way to deal with it is to accept that it may happen, and when/if it does, remind yourself that your body is shifting and healing and getting stronger.

8. You might feel like crap, but don’t eat like crap. Healthy, nutritious food is super important when healing from an injury. So, while your inclination might be to order in comfort food, fight the urge to do it too often during you rehabilitation. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods and try to add anti-imflammatory foods as needed, too.