Friday, October 2, 2009

Recovering After an Injury

I have been an athlete for as long as I can remember. I grew up playing softball and basketball where I encountered many jammed fingers, shin splints, scrapes, bruises, fractured ankles, and many sprained ankles. I started working out and hitting the gym in collage. About 2 years later I was in a car accident where I suffered back and neck injuries, and then less than 24 hours later I was in another one which damaged my next even further. One thing that sticks with me while seeing many doctor’s was them saying, “You’re lucky your body’s in such good shape or your injuries would have been much worse.” Of course I was grateful that nothing was broken, but it still called for a ton of recovery time, which I feared would set me back in my workouts (I was doing Body For Life at the time). I was told that I couldn’t lift ANYTHING!

I let my body rest and recover for about 2 weeks before I slowly worked my way to walking at a fast pace and eventually to running. I’m not much of a swimmer, but this was highly recommend by the doctors so I tried it just to get my heart rate up… trust me, swimming is NO joke! I was still itching to start lifting, but I physically couldn’t do it because of the pain, so I start doing things like yoga and pilates until eventually I could begin lifting again.

I’m saying all this because I have recently injured myself. If you didn’t read my last post, I took a spill down some stairs. I ended up bruising 4 vertebra – causing one to be a bulging disc. I have a deep tissue bruise, along with a hairline fracture in 1 rib. Let me just say that the pain that I was in was far worse than the labor pains that I had with my 2 children! But I am SO grateful that nothing was broken! My husband laughed at me while I was flat on my back in the ER saying, “How on earth am I going to take care of the kids if I broke something?” and secondly, “How am I going to be able to workout?” Yes… those were my first 2 questions!

Needless to say, I was told to take time off from working out. Then recommended 1-2 weeks depending on how well I felt. Well on Monday (3 days after the accident), I got the itch to try to run and was told NO WAY. So, I promised the doctors and my husband that I would wait until Wednesday. So I popped in one of my P90X DVD’s – I was only able to do ½ of it without having pain, so I stopped and decided to run on the treadmill to see how that would go. I was able to run 1 mile without having any pain at all – I was shocked. So, I thought it was be a good idea to try to jog outside to meet my husband and kids at the local park. I made it about ½ mile before I got stabbing pains in my lower back dropping me to my hands and knees.

My point here is to give your body the proper time to recover after an injury. I am a VERY stubborn and hard-headed person (It runs in my family). I mentally think I can do all this, so when I try and realize I can’t I begin to freak out. I’m scared of losing everything that I have worked so hard at. So, I did some research…

First of all, before you do any exercise after an injury, it's wise to get the approval and recommendations of your doctor. Follow their recommendations for when you can resume exercise, how much and what type of exercise is best.

Detraining in Fit AthletesThe reasons why deconditioning happens (what happens to your body when you stop working out on a regular basis) are becoming more clear thanks to several research studies focused on aerobic fitness. In one study, well-conditioned athletes who had trained for a year stopped exercise entirely. After three months, researchers found that the athletes lost about half of their aerobic conditioning.

Detraining in Beginning AthletesThe outcome is much different for new exercisers. Another study followed new exercisers as they began a training program and then stopped exercise. Researchers had sedentary individuals start a bicycle fitness program for two months. During those eight weeks, the exercisers made dramatic cardiovascular improvements and boosted their aerobic capacity substantially. At eight weeks, they quit exercising for the next two months. They were tested again and were found to have lost all of their aerobic gains and returned to their original fitness levels.

Detraining and Exercise Frequency and IntensityOther research is looking at the effects of decreasing training level, rather than completely stopping all exercise. The results are more encouraging for athletes who need to reduce training due to time constraints, illness or injury. One study followed sedentary men through three months of strength training, three times a week. They then cut back to one session per week. They found that these men maintained nearly all the strength gains they developed in the first three months.

If you stop exercise completely for several months it's difficult to predict exactly how long it will take you to return to your former fitness level. After a three-month break,it's unlikely that any athlete will return to peak condition in a week. In some athletes it may even take as long as three months to regain all their conditioning. The time it takes to regain fitness appears to depend on your original level of fitness and how long you've stopped exercise.

It was nice for me to see that I can easily maintain by working out 1 time a week until my body is healed. Giving your body enough time to heal and recover from any kind of trauma is essential. If you begin too early, or do the wrong type of workout you can set yourself up for reinjury, or prolong your recovery time even further.

Next week I will be posting on giving your body recovery time in between workouts, which is just as important! Stay tuned on Fitness Friday…

Don’t forget to hop on over and check out Sandy at God Speak’s Today, and Debbie at Heart Choices!


Dani Joy said...

It´s so late and I only got to read half of this. I want to read it all. I will come back. :)

Been thinking so much about you and how I would feel if I couldn´t work out. What´s our purpose? What´s our eternal value.. I was going to post on all this but didnt get to today. Homeschool, and visiting.

so glad that you healing up.


Sara said...

sarah, you are amazing... such an inspiration!! but i certainly want to encourage you in a couple of things....

1. you have worked SO hard that there is NO WAY you will lose all you have worked for! in fact, as you well know, if you happen to hurt yourself worse, it could be even longer before you get to workout! (that would totally STINK!)

2. and more importantly... perhaps this is piggy-backing off of dani's comment.... but the truth of the matter is, you are beautiful just the way God has created you--that includes your desire to workout and be healthy, but it doesn't exclude everything else! remember what is most important. i read a quote from mother teresa the other day--i will totally wreck it if i try to quote the whole thing w/o reading it--but it said something about seeing ourselves through God's eyes and loving ourselves in order to love others better!...

i do hope your recovery is swift and painless... but even more, i hope you know what a blessing you are to so many people and how precious you are to me--no matter if your fit or not! (we've been in many stages together, haven't we??...:) i love you, friend! get better... and i'm actually hoping to rejoin the workout blogosphere soon!