Last month I ended my blog post with, "Here's to going back to the beginning while moving forward." I didn’t know it then, but that was foreshadowing not a mental/spiritual beginning, but a physical beginning. A few days later, pulling a canoe to shore on a lake, I slipped and fell on the concrete slabs used as erosion protection. While I appreciate very much that the slabs are there for the protection of the lake, they were definitely not there for the protection of my leg. A few days of bad swelling and my husband and I spent our date night in the afterhours of the nearby orthopedic clinic. Knowing I’m a yogi/runner, the orthopedist grimaced when she informed me my injury wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I’d managed to bruise over half the length of my tibia (shin) bone. Heal time? 4-6 weeks before resuming normal activity, and an undetermined amount of time before returning to impact movement. I looked at my husband and said, "I take it the universe wants me to meditate?"
It’s been a month and every day is better than the day before, but the healing is definitely slower than my impatience was prepared to endure. Everyday things are challenging, such as walking or teaching yoga. I've let every yoga class know, "Due to my leg, obviously I will not be moving during class. This has now become an advanced practice in the game Simon Says.”
Joking aside, sitting down is the last thing I enjoy doing, but it’s how I’ve spent most of my time the past four weeks. Twice I’ve worked out at home, and both times I’ve had to remind myself to leave my ego at the door and focus on that foreshadowing sentence, “Here’s to going back to the beginning while moving forward.” I need to take the same advice I give out so frequently to my students, either with injuries or simply returning to practice after a long break. The advice is below. Let me know if it’s helpful to you. As for me, I’ll slowly keep working out, though I’ll be returning to the gym as anyone with pets will understand. Each time I’ve worked out in our spare room I’ve been interrupted by our pets, per the picture above. Then again, maybe they’re just reminding me to take it slow and steady per my own advice.
Advice for Returning to Exercise Post Injury
Always respect your body, respect your injury’s boundaries, and give yourself time to heal.
When you start exercising again, do not hold yourself to the standard of where you left off; that is not fair to you or your body. Compare yourself to the beginning, when you first started. You have the advantage of knowing more than you did then and there is plenty to gain from beginner modifications to get you back to where you were, eventually.
Do not worry about being balanced left to right if you are injured on one side. Absolutely do something only on one side if you can. Over time you may be able to do the beginner version of the pose on one side and the advanced on the other side. That said, do not over practice on one side of the body, or let the uninjured side take all the weight. That will lead to bad alignment and potentially long-term alignment issues or further injuries.
Accepting limitations today, does not mean you won’t reach your goal of tomorrow. Every day is a stepping stone to get back to where you were if you stay focused and never give up.