Injury Volume 1: Pitfalls and Patience

This post is Part 1 in a three-part series on coping with injury.  I hope you stay safe and healthy pursuing your fitness goals this new year, however, if injury does happen know there’s a lesson (or three!) to be learned.

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Those of you who have read the blog for a while may recall that I’m no stranger to workout-related injury or embarrassing moments that result in a trip to the emergency room.  (You know, like that time I fell on my face during a failed attempt at bakasana.)

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No, it didn’t look this cool when I did it.  Yes, it did hurt as much as you think when I landed on my face.

 

Most recently I fell forward down nearly a full a flight of stairs at work, only stopping when I reached the landing in a painful heap of cut and bruised limbs, my papers and bag scattered around me everywhere on the floor.  I knew it was serious when two teenage male students ran down the stairs to my aid, a look of sheer terror in their faces, and asked me if I was ok and if I could get up.

“Um, yeah…I can get up,” I stammered, however as soon as I tried I quickly realized I needed their help to peel myself off of the floor and carry me up the stairs.  Thirty minutes later I was in the local emergency room with an ice pack the size of a large handbag and and cuts and swelling all over my body.  (I don’t tend to think of myself as “accident prone” but my husband and the nurses at the ER may disagree.)  Add to this the fact that I was 9 weeks pregnant and it was a pretty terrifying situation.  Thankfully everything was revealed to be OK with the baby and I miraculously managed to walk away (ok, more like slowly hobble away) with no broken bones or torn ligaments.

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Bandaged up at the hospital. Cut and swollen but not broken.

I spent the next three days on the couch completely bummed out and in pain.  I couldn’t take prescription drugs and decided to forego over-the-counter painkillers because the dosage I would have needed to numb the pain didn’t seem safe for baby.  I had just started to come out of my first-trimester funk and had returned to the gym the day before my unfortunate trip down the stairs — and now there I sat with a bruised and swollen knee, shin, ankle, shoulder, and rib.  Awesome. *Sigh*

All in all it took about a week for the swelling in my knee to go down enough to fit into jeans and for the swelling in my shin/ankle to lessen enough for it to be comfortable wearing lace-up shoes. I didn’t have enough range of motion in my knee to go down the stairs or to practice yoga for almost a month; the thought of putting even a minimal amount of weight on my knee in table top position made me wince.  My first trip back to the gym I walked on the treadmill on a speed of 2.0 for a total of 20 minutes.  That’s all I could manage.

Whereas weeks earlier I’d relished hours of napping and lounging on the couch, I was now ready to get back to working out.  I wanted to move.  I was pretty depressed, discouraged, and worried about accumulating too much baby weight during this unexpected sedentary period that had been thrust upon me.

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Three weeks later. Still bruised and tender in spots but ready to move.

Rest.  Be patient.  Relax.

That was the advice I received over and over again — from the orthopedist, from my husband, from the holistic counselor, from my friends.

Finally at some point it started to sink in and I surrendered to stillness.  My patience and gratitude despite the injury started to grow.  I learned I needed to rely on other people to help me.  I was blessed to have friends and family who prayed for me, walked alongside me extra slowly, and even took me grocery shopping for Thanksgiving provisions.

Instead of worrying about the workouts I couldn’t do I focused on nutrition.  I read up on the nutrients my growing baby needed, found new recipes and prepared my meals, and avoided unhealthy and non-nutritious food cravings.  I was vigilant in doing this and managed to keep my weight gain slow and steady over the holidays despite a month-long sedentary existence.

Being forced to slow down was probably good for me in the long run.  Perhaps I would have been overzealous and ended up injuring myself anyway on my return to the gym had I not been forced to sit, wait, & reflect.  A month later when I finally got back to working out (mostly a combination of yoga and walking) I was cautious and observant of my form, alignment, & limitations.  More so, however, I was tremendously appreciative of the simple, beautiful, and liberating act of movement.