Thursday, January 12, 2012

lessons learned

As of yesterday, I am officially done (again) with physical therapy. Susana and I talked about how I've been feeling, the exercises I've been doing and came to the conclusion that I was strong enough to be released back into the wild. It's scary, because last time I pranced out of that office and said my goodbyes, I thought that was the last I'd see of my PT and chiro. Three months later, like an (un)champ, the pain was back.

In total I had four sessions with the chiropractor - most of which involved him manually releasing my platypus (aka my Popliteus), hamstring and calf muscles. There was one session where he SEPARATED my hamstring muscle, which, I didn't even know what possible. I was so incredibly sore for three days and then everything started to feel better. That, in combination of PT sessions and exercises where I focused on strengthening my feet (with my non-existent arch), my hamstrings and glutes. I'm also doing exercises that will help with my balance (which is still pretty pitiful, even after six weeks).

Despite the pain, tears and money spent, I'm trying to really take some positive lessons from this ordeal. Looking at my list, it may all seem a little... obvious, but it wasn't to me. Here goes:

Strength training, strength training, STRENGTH TRAINING
Yesterday my PT told me that if I forgot everything else she showed me, that she wanted me to remember to: "not sub a run day at the expense of strength training. It will not benefit you in the long run". I don't think I ever did much in the way of consistent cross training and now it's something that I am making time for. Cardio seven days a week may work for some, but it's not sustainable for me.

Know the difference between challenging yourself, and being stupid
I love my fighter fitness class - but I was really dumb the day I did 200 kicks on a bag. My knee didn't feel quite right after and I woke up the next day in pain. And there started the flare-up that brought me back to treatment. I still go to the same class, but I'm more careful about the exercises I'll do. Squat jumps, rotated kicks, backwards lunges, etc are on my no-no list (for now). When I get tired, my form goes to crap, my knees bow in and shit gets painful. Susana says that there are the exercises to try once I've built up more strength and balance in my legs. Until then, I  still get an amazing workout and don't have to worry about the knee pain.

I enjoy activities that are NOT running
Running was my EVERYTHING. And that's why I was so gutted when I wasn't allowed to run. For years it was, what workouts can I fit in aside from my runs? What exercise won't tire out my legs too much for my long run? I think that might be fine for some people, but it's not sustainable for me. I can't (and don't want to) run four days a week. More than that, there are other things I like do in addition to running. If I hadn't gotten injured I never would have gotten back into the pool, or started cycling, and I never would have tried to rock climb. But I did get injured, and as a result I've found activities that inspire and motivate me just as much as running has in the past.

Take opinions with a grain of salt
What's that phrase? Opinions are like assholes, everyone's got one? Yes, that's it. It's especially true when you're injured. Everyone will find it necessary to weigh in on your injury and WebMD will tell you that you've got tuberculosis. It's important to surround yourself with knowledgeable people but still be able to understand that a lot about sports injuries is fuzzy. At best, treatment can sometimes be akin to covering your eyes and throwing darts at the wall. Eventually you'll hit the mark, but it will probably take some time.

What are some lessons you've learned from being injured/recovering? Share! 

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