Friday, 13 July 2018

Maintaining Fitness Through Injury

When I tore my hamstring back in February this year after only just recovering from glandular fever and regaining only a small amount of fitness, I thought that was definitely the end of my progress in running for a good few months. I couldn't walk properly or bear any weight on my bad leg so I didn't really see any training I could do that was relative to running. But after surviving only 24 hours not doing anything I felt the need to sweat, as so many runners or athletes I'm sure will relate to. So I turned on my radio and decided to just hop around in whatever manner I could and do some seriously questionable dancing. I'm very lucky no one walked past my window.

After testing the limits of what my leg could do, this turned into a regular routine throughout the next 2 weeks, each time slowly morphing into a more structured workout as the pain got more bearable.

So after that long, probably unnecessary tidbit of my life (you're welcome), I arrive at the moral of my story which
is that when you get an injury, depending on the severity, the trick to maintaining your health and fitness which you've worked so hard to accomplish is to sensibly test what you are still capable of and work with what you've got, pushing the parts of your body that you can and giving your injury time to heal. This, combined with suitable treatment/therapy of the injury is a sure way to come back fighting fit and ease back into your regular routine.

Swimming

This has to be top of the list because it has least impact on your joints, meaning it is gentle on injuries and is also adaptive to almost any type of training regime. For instance, runners can retain their stamina and speed on the track by utilising different workouts in the pool wearing a support belt, which most leisure centres provide free of charge, or they can be purchased relatively cheap online.

Strength Training

To maintain muscle shape and strength while taking time off, this is an important component to your week, and you should focus on every area that you are capable, even if this means sitting with some free weights in front of the TV watching adverts of Cheryl Cole convincing you you're worth it.

A special mention should go to abdominal work which is vitally important to all sports so should never be neglected. This can be kept simple with exercises like crunches or Russian twists, and it'll still make a huge difference to your overall fitness.

Yoga

Yoga I feel gets a slightly bad rep these days, after the sonic boom of bikini clad, middle-classed blondes stretching their way across social media. Which I have to say is extremely hypocritical of me because I'd say I definitely do a bit of that. It's something I refused to try until a couple of years ago when I decided I needed to be a little more flexible for my ballet classes, so I taught myself the basics off of the wonderful world of Youtube where my practice has since progressed. I now have absolute faith in the practice to restore mind, body and wellbeing, having gotten up half an hour in advance each morning before university to fit in a short practice.

Although the slow pace and breathing techniques can put a lot of people off, there are many different types, all of which increase your strength, suppleness and mental toughness. So get exploring Youtube for an instructor you like! My personal favourite is Erin Sampson of Five Parks Yoga, but I'm still nowhere near on her level.


One small last tip would be for those with a strain injury, or an injury which worsens with prolonged usage, to use HIIT training. This has really become famous over the last 10 years or so for its proven results to transform your body in as little time as possible. It's time efficient and effective but a lot of hard work and not always ideal for stamina sports such as distance running, however you'll usually find that athletes from every walk of life include at least 1 session per week. My funky chicken dance around the bedroom in initial recovery could be seen as a form of HIIT, although I think this may be flattering myself.
Again, good sessions can be found on youtube for you to do at home or take to the gym!


Wishing you well, Helen xox

Added extra:
So I needed to come back and add to this post after being injured myself for 10 weeks now, which has put a halt on all running training as I can't even run a step!
Just need to say, I feel any injured runners pain mentally, it's really upsetting not to be able to do what makes your heart happy for any amount of time, never mind months at a time. But the extra advice I can give you now from experience is GET ON THAT BIKE if your injury doesn't prevent you from doing so of course.
There are several different types of indoor bike out there so I suggest finding what you think is most comfortable to you and just aim to mimic your running training on these as much as you can. I do interval sessions, longer sessions and a few hard paced, fast sessions on these each week to keep up my cardio fitness and maintain muscle form in my legs. I can't give feedback on whether it will have worked wonders yet but I at least feel sane still, and still feel pretty good fitness wise, so as a substitute it seems to work.
Try and have fun with it xx

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