As fitness professionals and enthusiasts, working out is as natural as brushing our teeth and tracking our protein intake. When the alarm goes off at 5 a.m., we put on gym clothes and do an inventory of everything in our bag before heading out the door. It is a routine we sometimes take for granted. We become so accustomed to going to the gym, that each workout is based on making gains—completing more reps, lifting more weight, running further and jumping higher. But what if all of these things came to a halt? What if one day you reach down to tie your shoe and a sharp, excruciating pain leaves you wondering if you will be able to stand up. Your back goes out and a simple task like tying your shoes has now become a painful chore. Or you have hurt your shoulder and it is impossible to put your hair in a ponytail, much less press a dumbbell overhead.
If you have ever been sidelined by an injury, the pain of recovery is familiar. It is as though we have locked our keys in the car. We gaze longingly at the gym, and would do anything to be inside of it. Likewise, the onset of an injury usually hits us just a moment "too late”—or could it have been prevented? While we may have ignored the warning signs of overuse (soreness, inflammation, limited range of motion), the focus now shifts to recovery. Not only have we been set back by physical pain, but injuries take an emotional toll as well. It is important to consider what we could have done to prevent the injury; however the lesson lies in the journey. Our minds may be racing ahead, anticipating when we can start working out again, but we need to be patient with ourselves and our bodies. We don’t want the same thinking that led us to the injury to prevent us from making progress.
Recovery gives us the chance to practice new behaviors and to create an outlook that takes into account our fitness goals, along with our current abilities. By incorporating new practices along with a new mindset, you will create an outlet for the energy that once went toward your workouts. Your goals should be equally challenging and attainable.
-Schedule an appointment with your doctor for an evaluation.
-Establish a timeline based on your doctor’s feedback and set mini goals along the way.
-Consider the behaviors that may have contributed to your injury and think about how you will change them.
-Consider starting a new hobby with your spare time.
-Start a blog. You will likely connect with others who have had similar experiences. This is how my blog (www.inspirelinge.blogspot.com) began, following back surgery in February 2012.
-When you are ready to increase your activity again, consider methods such as Pilates, barre, and yoga. These formats are low impact, strengthen the core and can help decrease muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.
The following workout is a full body routine, doesn’t require any equipment and has no impact. It is meant to improve core strength and focuses on the stabilizing muscles. If you are currently being treated for an injury, consult your doctor before completing it.
Emphasize pressing your heels into the floor to fire up the hamstrings and glutes.
Exhale with each lift, keep the elbows wide and the head relaxed in the hands.
Tabletop Tap Downs 10x
Keep your legs bent at 90 degrees, making sure your back does not arch.
Complete 1-3 rounds
Lengthen the arms and legs, keeping the toes pointed. Avoid pressing your abdominals toward the floor. Drive the navel to the spine and emphasize the muscles along your backside working to raise your arms and legs. Lower with control.
Press the heels together and envision making footprints on the ceiling. Again, avoid pressing your abdominals toward the floor.
Plank with shoulder taps 10x
Wrists should be under the shoulders. Engage the core to keep hip rotation to a minimum. Press the supporting arm into the floor to keep the chest and shoulder engaged.
Complete 1-3 rounds
Exhale as you press up; make sure the hips move downward along with the descent.
Arm/leg extensions 10x
Lengthen the arm and leg toward opposite walls. Keep your gaze a few inches forward from the fingertips.
Reach/pull 10x per side
Emphasize the abdominals as you pull, the muscles along your backside as you reach.
Complete 1-3 rounds