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!
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