The last week or so have been a process of finding my body’s upper limit for all kinds of physical movement. There is only so much time I can spend sedentary. It’s been more than 2 months at this point, and I have spent almost all of that time sitting or lying down. I’m losing patience with my body’s inability to move normally. Even though this is normal and necessary post-op, as a typically active person, this is hard to manage, especially as the weather here gets nicer.
That said, I’ve been enjoying pushing my limits just a little. I’ve had to push myself beyond my limits, and that was not anywhere near as satisfying, but feeling just a little tired, a little pushed is great, but I cannot recommend walking 8 blocks in one night then going up 2 huge flights of stairs. Seriously, it’s not good for you to not do anything for the entirety of your recovery, but don’t try to live like you normally would, ask for accessibility and seriously weigh the consequences of not getting help when going somewhere, especially at a large stadium.
Even though that day was super hard, and the week after was harder than I would have liked because I was sore and tired, but I did learn that I can walk for longer than I had been. Even though it was awful, I could walk for longer than I had been and because of that, I’ve been pushing myself a little harder day-to-day to get some movement back and feel a little more like myself again.
I’ve been able to manage a whole lot more movement and I’ve also tried out some seated workouts to keep myself active and feeling like myself. I’ve put together a pinterest board with some seated workouts I’ve tried, ranging from pretty easy to relatively intense to hard. I’ve also managed a little (very modified) yoga, which was great for both my body and my mental health. Yoga is one of the things I’ve missed most since getting hurt, so it’s been huge for me to find a way to manage to make it work. That said, especially early on in your recovery, it is so important to prioritize your injury. Pushing yourself is great, as long as it doesn’t mean putting yourself at risk. This recovery is long enough without giving yourself more setbacks.
The biggest challenge for me, though has been the mental hurdles. It’s so hard to overcome the fear of re-injury, but it’s so important to be able to return to normal life eventually. If I don’t push myself now, it’s only going to be harder when it’s time to return to normal (whenever that’ll be).
The next thing I’ve been working on is ABSOLUTELY NOT something to do on your own. It’s super risky to try and do the next exercise at home.
I’ve been working on activating the muscles in my lower leg (and also the rest of my left leg, because muscle atrophy is for real). This was harder than it looks and in some ways, that’s a little bit discouraging, especially since I’m used to having most of my strength in my lower body.
Bridging is a super functional exercise that is super beneficial (especially for those of us who sit a lot), since it works all the muscles in our lower body in the posterior chain (the back). Those muscles are the ones that often suffer most when we sit too much, which is the case when you’re recovering from a lower body injury. That said, even though it was physically challenging, it was more mentally challenging than anything. For this first time in almost 2 months, I was putting my bare foot down and putting weight into it.
Because I was suspended in RedCord, there was actually very little weight in my injured leg, but that doesn’t change the mental hurdle I had to overcome just to get this far. There’s a lot of fear for me in trying to get my bare foot back on the ground for the first time.
Even though the biggest hurdle was mental, I was still sore after trying this out for the first time. Honestly, it was a little like going to the gym. I felt positive because I had accomplished something, but my muscles were definitely tired and a little sore.
That’s one of the hardest mental hurdles as well, not being afraid of being sore. Now, being in a lot of pain is obviously not a good thing, but if you’re completely comfortable, you’re not going to make as much progress. This is where having at least one medical professional you can rely on becomes so helpful. Your surgical team isn’t going to be there for you to ask how much is too much, but having a physiotherapist (or four) means that you’ve got someone to ask about how much exercise to do, who’ll tell you whether you’re pushing too much or not enough and who’ll teach you more ways to work on your strength safely.
Safety is paramount, but it’s also important to be able to return to normal. You don’t have to accept defeat and decide you’ll just never do the things you love again. There are ways to get there. They’re hard (and expensive a lot of the time) but if it means you can move on with your life, isn’t it worth it?