Keeping fit during injury is not easy to do, and I am getting way too good at this cross training through injury business! And why, pray tell, do my injuries happen when I’m going about normal life? Like, oh, sorry, you can’t do normal things, you must do abnormal things in order to keep your body happy, lol. Regardless, I thought that I would give you all a little bit of a look into what I have been doing to keep up my fitness and sanity during these past long weeks, when my options for cross training have severely limited. Including a few workouts for you!
Limitations and My Action Plan to Maintain Fitness
When I was contending with my stress reaction earlier this year, I was, as I am now, rather limited with regards to the type of cross training and cardio that I could do. This current injury of the spine and pelvis has proven just a bit more frustrating, however, a) with regards to the length of time that I have been injured and b) with the manner in which it limits me. Allow me to explain:
Before I jump in, I would like to say that I am doing all of these things with the blessing of my therapist and doctors. They trust (and I hope you do as well!) that I will not push the injury–I do not–and they trust my ability to read my body–which I am pretty good at. I fervently wish to get better; I do not intend to do things to jeopardize my recovery. As long as it doesn’t hurt or stimulate the injury to greater pain after, I am allowed.
If you are injured, consult with a doctor (and a PHYSICAL MEDICINE doctor, at that!), before trying out any exercise program. Consult with experts! I am a running coach and personal trainer, but I am not YOUR coach or trainer (unless you are paying me). And if you would like to pay me, you know where to find me so that I can develop a personalized plan for you!
In the spring, walking sans boot hurt terribly, but with the boot on, I could go for walks (even though doing so resulted in a suuuuper awesome knot on my leg that took another 2 weeks after being done with the boot to get rid of!
This time around, walking is a no-go, and there is no “boot” on to help me stay mobile! There are times when I can walk somewhat comfortably, but I’m never totally without pain. Also, said pain travels around, changes shape, you know, the whole party metaphor.
In the spring, I could swim rather comfortably as well, even if getting into and out of the pool wasn’t my favorite. This fall, I honestly not tried swimming because a) of the walking required to get to the pool and b) I’m worried about twisting my pelvis.
In the spring, the spin bike was my go-to, and after 1.5-2 weeks in the boot, I was able to come out of the saddle. This time around, I realized after about 2 weeks of using the spin bike that I was much more comfortable during and after if I used the upright exercise bike, which would stabilize my pelvis, keep me from flexing my spine too much, and would keep me from any sort of impact.
I have essentially peed on the upright bike at my apartment building to mark my territory. I am doing about 30-45 minutes on the upright bike every day. With as little as I am walking, I don’t feel that my legs are being overworked, and there are times that I get off the upright bike with my pelvis feeling better than I started! There are a few hypotheses that my therapist and I are swirling around about why this is (beyond the pelvic stabilization), but we are waiting on the MRI (on Thursday) to confirm.
Examples of upright bike workout sessions:
- Steady State “Run”: 10-15 minute warm up (increasing resistance every 5 minutes); 30-40 minute steady state run with RPM at 90; 5 minute cool out (return to resistance used at minutes 5-10)
- Hill “Run”: same warm up; 30-40 minutes with 5 minutes increasing the resistance, then decreasing resistance to original, RPMs 80-90; same cool out
- Intervals: warm up; 30-40 minutes alternating between 5 minutes at moderate resistance, 2 minutes at hard resistance (usually a jump of 2) that still allows me to maintain 80-90 RPMs; cool down
- Tempo: Warm Up; 30-40 minutes with 8 minutes moderate-hard effort, 2 minutes lighter effort; cool down
I aim for 90 PRMs on just about everything as that is what is generally considered optimal leg turnover, or cadence, for running. Plus, it gets my heart rate up and that + the gym humidity helps me sweat, which makes me feel accomplished!
Strength and Weight Lifting
In the spring, I pursued my lifting as normal, no limitations. I follow body split days, and with a Dansko on one foot and a boot on the other, I did my thang.
With the spine and pelvis injury, regardless of my footwear, I have to be very, very careful in the weight room. Picking up weights can be harmless or excrutiating, depending on the level the weights are starting at. Any move that forces me to flex my core (think a full sit up) or moves that force me to support from my hamstring-glutes-lower back (like a dead lift or leaning forward in general) are off limits. Abduction (my legs going out) is tricky–it doesn’t necessarily hurt then, but the next day, things tend to be out of whack.
I am able to do some lifting, but I have to be careful. I am sticking to straight-forward-facing lifts that don’t challenge balance, engage the pelvic girdle and stabilizers, or introduce flexion (rather than extension) are the name of the game. So it is very much back to basics here. And other than planks, abs are for the birds.
The biggest problem that I have run into? My lack of desire to lift. I was still loving running when I got hurt, and then being hurt and in pain, plus finding out that I was limited, well, it was a slap in the face. But the past few weeks I’ve gotten back to lifting some before I do the bike (which we know that I’m going to do, regardless). I simply have no desire to try to get my arms back, or work towards lifting goals, and that isn’t the worst thing, as I probably shouldn’t be lifting huge weights.
Pilates, Yoga, Barre
Pilates and yoga were HUGE parts of my spring cross-training-while-injured regimen, if you remember. Well, at first yoga didn’t seem to cause too much harm (remember my brief glimmer of hope the first week?) and then we realized that was a VERY BAD IDEA. Because look to my strength training limitations and think about what muscle systems and movements you use in yoga and Pilates: core, pelvic girdle, stabilization, flexion, balance.
Barre is a no go for the same reasons!
Bottom Line: NO.
We are using McKensian Method largely, and let’s just say that I’ve done my fair share of extensions on the floor, standing, with yoga blocks, and in bizarre positions. This is helping to treat the symptoms and promote healing. After the MRI, we will regroup and continue to evolve my recovery treatment plan as things heal.
I would also like to mention that I am continuing to workout not only for my personal mental health and sanity but also for the physiological benefits. Total rest would not be beneficial for me due to the overall decrease in movement, and we need to keep my muscles and bones strong for long term bone health as well as short term. But again, consult with a physician for you own individual case!
I hope that you found this little expose of my current effort to keep fit during injury! Now, can I please stop writing these damn posts???How @suzlyfe is maintaining #fitness despite her injury? #fitfluential #sweatpink #fitfam Click To Tweet
Tell me some fun fitness news! What was your favorite workout from the past 7 days?