Working Out With An Injury
I am not a Dr. and any advice you take from me you do on your own free will! Read my full Health & Fitness disclaimer for full details
Last week while I was walking to the barn with a 20 litre bucket of water in each hand I stepped onto ice that was hiding under some snow. The ice cracked and let a bit of water out of the icy puddle that caused me to start to slip backwards. When that happened, my arms swung forward, dumping the buckets of water all over myself, and making the ice more wet (and more slippery!) so that I completely fell backwards onto my hips/sits bones, and then hitting back onto my right shoulder. I may have dropped an f-bomb too. Whomp whomp.
I was little pissed, wet & cold, but more than that, I got hurt. I could instantly feel my traps (trapezius), lats (latissimus), & glutes (gluteus medius) pinching.
I do not get injured easily. There are some people who seem to get an injury from everything they do, but I am not one of those people!
The sum and total of my injuries (not including horseback riding related injuries!) are as follows:
When I was a teenager I completely threw my back out because of a bale of hay incident (I went to pick it up thinking it would move, but it was stuck! So, the bale stayed put, and my back went rrrriiiipppppp)! I beat that in no time though.
Then when I was in labour with my third child I had extreme back labour (meaning that all my contractions were felt through my abdomen, but also felt through my lower back). This resulted in slipped (herniated) disks and caused pain through my lower back and leg for more than a month. Every winter this pain would return, presumably because I was doing more sitting and was not in great shape.
Since getting into shape again I haven't had any back trouble, and the only other muscles pain/injury I've sustained was when I pulled my trap hauling something very heavy out of our basement, and a knee issue (not sure where it came from).
So, I'm not completely injury free, but I'm 32 and can only count on 1 hand the number of physical problems I've had (I make up for it in mental problems!! haha!).
So, why would I bother talking about working out with an injury? Because it's important, and because for the injuries I have had, I am convinced that they got better faster than they might have if I hadn't known how to work out the problems!
There are varying degrees of muscle injury, and It's important to know where you might be in this scale. Physiotherapy Notes puts it this way:
Grade I Muscle Strain
"In grade I muscle strain, the muscle or tendon is overstretched. Small tears to muscle fibers may or may not occur. You may have mild pain with or without swelling. Grade I strain is also called mild muscle strain".
Grade II Muscle Strain
"Also called moderate muscle strain, grade II strain occurs when the muscle or its tendon is overstretched with more of the fibers torn but not complete. Symptoms may include marked pain with swelling. The area of injury is tender. Bruising may occur if small blood vessels at the site of injury are damaged as well. Movement may be difficult because of pain".
Grade III Muscle Strain
"Grade III strain, or severe muscle strain, is the most serious among the three grades of muscle strains. Most of the muscle fibers are torn. In some cases, the muscle is completely torn or ruptured. Pain, swelling, tenderness, and bruising are usually present. Movement is usually difficult.
Moderate and severe muscle strains should be seen by a qualified health care provider. For grade I muscle strain, simple home remedies, such as applying RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) therapy may be just enough to manage symptoms".
So, you can see there are different ways the muscles can be injured. It's important to understand your body and know the difference between "pain" and "PAIN"!!! Ya know?
I think you know if you're a big baby, or freakin' tough, so you need to take that into consideration and know that "pain" is fine to work through, but "PAIN" can be something serious and you should get it checked out.
Also, chronic injuries can be horrible. Examples are joint injuries such as rotator cuff injury, shoulder bursitis, or tendonitis. Injuries like these need to be handled cautiously because just one wrong move and you could end up in the operating room. Be sure to take good care of a chronic injury and follow your doctor's instructions!
But beyond deciding which type of injury you have, and being mindful of chronic injuries, it's important to try to figure out exactly where your injury is. Yes, you can go to see your doctor (as mentioned above, if you think it's a for real injury), but what if they can't see you for a day or two (or even longer!). You could go to your local Emergency Room or walk-in clinic.....but you may end up with a cold or flu from that visit! So, whatever you decide to do, you can also add to your own knowledge by doing some "research" (it's in quotes because I once heard of someone who called themselves a "researcher", and it.turned out they just Googled stuff all day!....geez).
Anyway, when I had my slipped disks, my Dr. recommended a simple program of exercises to help stretch and strengthen the back and surrounding muscles. I also went to see a physical therapist who helped (and hurt!!!) a lot and who also recommend exercises that strengthened by back while reducing my pain.
Having that injury taught me a lot about the human body and about how I can help it when it's trying to heal.
Healthline.com recommends that instead of sitting around hoping the muscles will recover (which, ironically, causes the muscles & joints to become stiff), it is important to try to remain as active as possible through stretching or low-impact activities such as walking. And that's exactly what my Dr. & Physiotherapist told me to do!
When I pulled my traps, I immediately went online to pinpoint which muscle I had pulled, then I looked up stretches for that particular muscle. I also started using a ball to press into and release the tight muscle (I've included a video example below)-p.s., I've seen that you can buy special balls that are attached to ropes to help with rolling out sore muscles, but they are a little costly. My cleaver parents got me a much cheaper version though--a dog toy!!! Seriously, it's the exact same thing that I had seen, but much cheaper (they found it at Dollarama!) : ) The picture of it is below!
I also went online for info when my knee was giving me trouble. I also had a pre-planned & routine check-up with my Dr. while my knee was bothering me so I mentioned it and he told me to work at strengthening the muscles that surround my knee in order to give it more support.
Which leads me more to the point.....how DO you workout while sustaining an injury?
After you've figured out what type of injury you have, and where you have it, it's time to see which muscles are on each others team. What? Muscle teams? Yup!
Ok, that is not an official term AT ALL, but I like to think of the muscle groups as teams because it helps make clear how muscle groups work together! For instance, if your shoulder is sore, you wouldn't just work on your quads because that clearly wouldn't benefit your shoulders at all! They are not on the same team! Get it?!
Ok, let's re-cap & talk more about teams!
How to Workout While Injured
WHAT DOES THAT SUPPORT LOOK LIKE???
I didn't want to get into a million exercises to work all those body parts because that would make this post far too long! So, if you're looking for something specific, you can look it up online, call your Dr. and see if they can give you any advice, or shoot me an e-mail and I'll see what I can do!
Let's go back to my injury from last week.
My workout that day consisted of lots of ab work in order to strengthen my core and assist my lower back, and a long yoga flow to help stretch out and relax the muscles in my neck and upper back.
Within a few days everything was starting to feel better (well, except my butt that ended up with a huge bruise on it!!!) Haha, that made some sitting ab exercises very difficult! I just put a pillow under my butt to get around the pain!
But I know that if I had gone, "oh no! I'm injured! I need to take a few days off from my workouts!" that my body would have seized up and I really would have been worse off!
I want to say again that you need to know your body, know your pain tolerance, and know when you have a for real injury (like a bone sticking out because it's broken!), and go from there. I know I have a high pain tolerance, so that makes me less likely to take an injury seriously. When my back was toast after my third baby, it took a few weeks before my husband convinced me to go to see a Dr! I basically couldn't walk, I couldn't sit for long, I couldn't lie down for long. I sometimes would sit quietly crying while nursing because the pain was so bad, but I'd still say, "it's not that bad, it'll be fine!". I was taking a constant stream of pain killers, was rubbing an insane amount of Rub A535 (a muscle relaxant heat cream) onto my back, was using a heating pad on my back any time I was sitting or lying down, and could still barely move! My husband was right, I needed to see a doctor!!!
But then there's those little pinches that you know are minor, or achy muscles from a previous workout that are just from lack of a proper cool-down and stretch session. It's important to work through some soreness (like from a previous workout), but not to work through nearly debilitating pain!
I'm having a hard time summing up my thoughts! Let's do more point form!!!
I think that's all!
So, I hope you found this info helpful today! Writing (and talking) about health & fitness is a passion of mine, but I need to rant again about how I am in no way shape or form a medical professional! I am an average woman with life experiences who wants to share those experiences with others! So, take my words as you will, remembering that I am not intending to replace your doctor or anything he or she tells you! But, on that note.....doctors don't know everything (gasp!), and you need to trust yourself, and get a second (or third) opinion on things if you're unsure about anything. Ok? Ok!
I bid you farewell!
Weight Loss vs. Fat Loss
A lot of people talk about and focus on weight loss. If you're looking to lose weight, well.....ok. But might I suggest instead that you consider losing fat instead? Is there a difference? Oh yes, oh yes indeed!
The last few weeks I've been working at losing some of the extra Christmas love I got (read: lots of visiting, staying up late and snacking!), but, the scale hasn't budged. What has budged though is how I feel in my pants, bras, and shirts. Seriously, I look in the mirror at myself everyday and can see the difference that getting back home, working out hard and eating clean have made. But the scale won't agree. Why? Because the fat I'd collected over the holidays weighs less than the muscle I'm re-gaining, but the fat also takes up more room than the muscle. So, my shape and size are changing, but not the number on the scale.
This idea can help put some of your "defeats" in perspective.
Ever have a week where you nailed your workout every day, ate like a super-clean super-human, drank all the water you should, blah blah blah.....and then you step on the scale at the end of the week and.....drum roll...., you lost 1-lb? You're standing there thinking, "well, THAT was a waste! I'm eatin' me a 1 kg bag of peanut M&M's for breakfast now since it doesn't seem to make any difference!". Or maybe I'm the only one who's ever felt like that...? Haha, for realz, it's not just me!
But here's what your body is doing "behind the scenes". First of all, it's not turning fat into muscle. That would be a magic trick! That's like trying to change pork fat into a chicken breast--on a living chicken!
You can looe fat and muscle, or gain fat and muscle. But, fat and muscle are not inter-changeable, so just get that idea outta yer head! : )
I like they way they said it on bodybuilding.com "Muscle mass and fat are two different animals: Muscle is active tissue that burns calories around the clock even as you sleep, kind of like an engine running in neutral. When you move around, you burn more calories, just like a car will consume more gas the faster you go. Fat, on the other hand, is just a storage of excess energy. It does nothing but sit there with its sole goal in life to be a spare tire around your waist until you put in the effort to burn it off" (emphasis mine).
So, the body isn't doing any magic tricks, but is just functioning as it's being asked to. You are either asking your body to gain or lose fat, or to gain or lose muscle.
So, if your scale doesn't seem to be cooperating with your best efforts, can ask yourself, "have I been working out hard using weights, or my body weight? Could I be gaining muscle and that's why the scale isn't getting lower??". The answer will almost always be yes....unless all you're doing is cardio......
Oh boy, so, for a long, long, long time you've heard "do more cardio to lose more weight!!!", and that's true to a degree.....except than you're really only losing fat and not gaining any muscle (and muscle burns calories, so the more muscle you have the more calories you burn while NOT working out). So, you can run your heart out, lose big numbers on the scale, but then you'll end up with a "skinny fat" body. Basically, a body that seems small or skinny, but has low or no muscle definition. If you are stuck in a "skinny-fat rut", read this article, or this article from muscleforlife.com
Rethink your approach to "loss". Focus on gaining muscle. Focus on working hard. Don't focus on calories burned (GASP!). Just don't for now. Start in a place where you are telling yourself, "my plan is to build muscle, & get strong"
Below are some images of different bodies at different weights and you can see that the heavier in weight photos are the muscled, trim bodies. I also included some replica fat vs. muscle photos that I find intriguing! Because I'm a geek. : )
I think these pictures say a lot, don't they! I find them an encouraging reminder that fat loss and weight loss are very different games!
Don't be discouraged if you're not "losing weight" as fast as you want. Keep measurements, keep trying on one particular pair of pants and take note on how they feel on your waist and legs, and, of course, stay positive! Rome wasn't built in a day, and the body or health & fitness goals you have in mind won't develop in one day either!
If you want a great body weight workout, I've included one of my favourites below! It's one of my best loved YouTubers, Tony Horton, as a guest on another of my top-pick channels POPSUGARfitness! To fav's for the price of one!
In this video Tony takes you through a 10 minute, full body burn! You will love it!
And that is all I have for you today!
Please let me know if you have any thoughts, comments or concerns, or just say "hi"!
Amy-Lyn, checking out! : )
....And now some legal jargon....
Remember that I am not a certified health & fitness professional! Read my Disclosure Policy HERE
......Love the one you're with!
Ever heard that song? It's by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Some of the lyrics are:
"Don't be angry, don't be sad
Don't sit crying over good times you've had
Well there's a girl sitting right next to you
And she's just waiting for something to do...
...And if you can't be with the one you love, honey
Love the one you're with"
Why, you may ask, am I sharing this with you? What does this have to do with health and fitness. A lot my friends, an awful lot.
The other day I spent an hour sorting through my clothes to eliminate some of them (as I like to do in January), and I had a epiphany. Some of my jeans I wore last May didn't fit me....whomp whomp. I am about 10 lbs heavier than I was then, and I thought, "Geez.....I remember not being entirely happy with my body then....what a waste!". Seriously, I kept going through my clothes all the while thinking about how instead of enjoying the body I had worked so hard on I was still finding flaws. Now, here I am, 10 lbs heavier and thinking, "well, I better love this body now because who knows what I might have in 1, 5, 10, or 50 years!" Right?!?
I have spent a lot of my life not appreciating how I was in the moment. I remember hating my "front butt" when I was 11 years old! 11 YEARS OLD!!! P.S., a "Front butt" is that lower belly pooch.
Here I am now, 32, responsibility coming outta my ears, a body that needs extra work to keep in shape 'cause it's getting older, and I'm thinking "why was I wasting my 11 year old time feeling self conscious about a lower belly pooch?!". Poor 11 year old me!!
I heard someone say recently that only loving your body when it's perfect is like only loving your kids when they're well behaved. Moulding a child into a decent human being takes time and effort, and there will be some moments when you're staring at your (seemingly) possessed child and thinking "I've failed!".....but you still love them anyway!
Don't have kids? Ok, let's change the comparison to dogs! You love your dog, even when you come home from a long day and it's pooped in your favourite shoes.....right?
Make your own comparison from something you seem to love and forgive quite unconditionally and apply it here!
So, why not our bodies? Why not love what we've got while we've got it, no matter how it looks, or how it's "behaving"? This body, this temple we've got to live in can stay the same, get worse, or get better, but can't we love it all along the way?
I started this Health & Fitness portion of my website because I wanted to share my tips and tricks, workouts and food philosophy, but what I keep coming back to is encouragement! I swear, this is not really intentional! I sit down to write about one thing, and out comes something else! I think my heart, my body and soul are trying to work something out!
How many of us woman (and men too) feel discouraged after looking through "motivational fitness photos"? All those freakin' ripped people, super nice tans, I'm sure they are rich too for goodness sake! There is a time and a place for that (heck, I shared my own "before" & "after" photos!), but more than just seeing other people who are in shape, I think we need real people, loving themselves, loving others, no matter what the body! I want to have a "before" and "after" of my attitude toward my body!
Change your mind about yourself, decide right now to love yourself! Start a transformation right there in your head! Don't forget to take a "before" snapshot of your critical and unforgiving mind! You'll want a comparison for later! : )
Me telling you to love your body isn't a new idea....I'm sure you've already read it somewhere, or seen it on a Billboard or commercial. But I am not just telling you, I AM TELLING ME!!!
I am with you in this struggle, in this adventure, in this crazy human body!
So, here's the real challenge. Not just loving your body (which is easy to say), but to realign your values of beauty. We are told to love our bodies, but our hearts and minds say, "why would you, look at it! It's awful!"
Something I tell my kids a lot, and I think we can all agree on this point, is that what we are in our hearts is what makes us beautiful, and that is something we can all work on, regardless of our body type.
Remember how I disliked my body at 11, and I disliked it last year at it's fittest and thinest, so the problem isn't with my body, it's with my heart & mind. It's what we value as beauty, it's what we consider worthwhile.
I love the image above (you can sub in "man" if you're a man reading this!), but I love the challenge.
Proverbs 31:30&31 says,"Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honour her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate" (emphasis mine)
Now, whether or not you are a Christian, believe in God, or read the Bible, you have to admit that is a gosh-darned good proverb!!! Don't be thrown off by the "fear" bit, that fear doesn't mean what we think (afraid, terrified), but rather to respect, or to reverence. This fear acknowledges God’s good intentions, and makes a person receptive to wisdom and knowledge (1), which is a beautiful quality. What you look like will fade and change, and get old! You can't help that! But what you do, who you are, those things can last and can become your legacy of beauty.
If we don't start by looking inward at what our hearts and minds are doing, and whether or not they are beautiful, we'll never be able to look in a mirror and say, "I love you".
Take a good look at yourself. Are you a great singer, dancer, piano player, guitar player? Recorder player!?! Do you love passionately, hug hard, laugh easily, think deeply? Can you make a killer grilled cheese or a fantastic pot of soup? Do you help people in need, or offer a shoulder to cry on? Are you loud? Quiet? Both!?! Do you see beauty in others? Do you see that beauty can be, and IS, more than just what we look like?
Who you are is not how you look and your beauty is not in how you look. Who you are is someone individual, and your beauty resides in that special and distinct place.
Love yourself for yourself. You are the only mind like you, the only emotion like you, the only you there is. All of it, inside and out is you, so love it. Love the one you're with because it's you!
2016: The Year of Zeal!
I think most of us know that if you want to be healthy & fit, it requires zeal!
What is zeal?
Zeal is defined as "great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause or an objective". I like this definition too: "fervour for a person, cause, or object; eager desire or endeavour; enthusiastic diligence; ardor"
I am not one for new years resolutions, mostly because they are unrealistic. I've talked about having hope for a new year, and last year I shared some thoughts on just generally aiming to become a better person, but now I desire to have some zeal.
Our pastor spoke about zeal and said it was a matter of the will and the heart. What you want, what you're passionate about comes from deep inside! It's not manufactured falsely, or forced, but rather pours out of your life because it can hardly be stopped! I had some serious zeal on Monday to clean my house top to bottom! Doesn't seem like a cause worth zealing over (p.s., "zealing" is definitely NOT a word, I just made it up! Haha), but why not? It's what I was doing at that moment, and why not do it with zeal?!? Why waste time doing things with indifference?
On my Motivational Monday post (I know it's Wednesday...) I spoke about zeal in life in general, but here I want to speak about zeal for health & fitness.
My enthusiasm for health & fitness sometimes feels fake....usually when I'm devouring a 1 kg bag of Jelly Belly jelly beans on my treat day!!! Then someone asks me about diet, nutrition and working out, and you can't shut me up! Knowing how the body works, what makes it work better, what makes it stronger intrigues and inspires me! I am zealous about health & fitness, regardless of my treat days! I guess you could say I am zealous about food too, ALL food! : )
Our pastor showed this video at church and I literally, out loud said, "whoa....", so I want to share it with you! It is part of a campaign called "Protect This House. I WILL".
This one is crazy-amazing too (skip to 0:54)!
I like the quote from Aldous Huxley in the collage above. Having zeal, enthusiasm, passion, and devotion to a cause requires us to be a little childlike. Kids are amazing in what they dream up and work towards and accomplish! They zealously follow their dreams because they believe in their heart they can do it, and their will to do it drives them on!
As adults, we hum and hah, doubt, speculate, and make lists and somewhere along the way, we become half-hearted in all we do. As I said at the beginning of this post, just add enthusiasm to what you're doing already! Why Not? WHY NOT?!? What's stopping you? Zeal is contagious, it brightens your day, it gives you drive and leaves you feeling purposeful!
When I work out, I usually hit a wall physically, I feel completely tired, muscles are shaking, I'm ugly sweating, my face is many shades of red and purple, but I say (often out loud), "if you're here, you might as well kick ass" (excuse my french) : )
If you take the time to workout, whether it's for 5, 10, 15, or 60 minutes, do it with zeal! Own it!
When I create meals for my family, even if they are simple meals, I still like to make it taste good, be healthy, and be attractive because I love food and food presentation!
On my Motivational Monday post I shared about my amazing sisters who are passionate about helping refugee families. They have surpassed their original goal to sponsor just one family to come and live in Brantford, and are now planning to continue raising money for a second family! To help with the resettlement of a refugee family in Brantford, go to Brantford Refugee Family Sponsorship.
I also shared about my friend Kelly who had a dream about a place, called Grace Inn, where the homeless could find a place to belong, be treated with dignity, and could feel at home. She's raising money at Hope for the Homeless in Brantford on gofundme.
You may not feel like you have a "big goal" that you can apply zeal to, but that doesn't matter. Have zeal in what you do, or join with others who are zealous and support them with zeal!
As for health & fitness, the zeal comes from the same place all zeal comes from: your will. Why do you want to be healthy or fit? Me? I like feeling comfortable in my own skin. I like seeing how hard I can push myself and seeing what I am physically capable of. I like knowing that my hard work is creating a longer and healthier life for me to enjoy my husband, kids, family and friends. And I like knowing that I am protecting this "house", this place God made for me to live in. I've only got this one house, and I want it to be it's best!
So, go with zeal! Inject enthusiasm into your health & fitness! Why? Because you are worth it! You are!
Make 2016 a year with zeal!
It's Me, Amy-Lyn!
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