Up until 2 months ago, I have always had an injury-free training and running career. Last time I got injured, I was in high school and I remember it really having a huge impact on the life choices that I made from that point onwards.
At the time, I was a semi-professional dancer, dancing 15+ hrs a week, teaching dancing, dancing at events, etc. I was planning on attending York University in Toronto to study Broadway singing/dancing and pursue that as a career but when I got injured, it made me re-evaluate my career altogether. I decided to abandon that dream and opt for plan b, which was to become a television host and keep dancing as a side job instead of my primary career.
Last year, when I started training heavily and racing, I saw a lot of people around me have to take time off due to injury. I felt a lot of empathy towards them but it’s not until you get injured yourself that you really understand the impact that an injury can have on your life.
At the end of July this summer, I got injured. Whether it was overtraining, improper form, new footwear or a combination of several things, no one can really know. The first doctor I went to see told me it was probably only a nerve issue so I could continue training. Little did I know, that this would actually make my condition worsen. So when I got back from my travels to Hawaii, with the recommendation of my trainer, Nike Master Trainer Eva Redpath, I went to seek a second opinion. Turns out, it wasn’t a nerve issue but most likely a protruding disc in my back.
Since the new diagnosis, I have stopped all physical activity, stopped running, biking, training and basically have had to be inactive. I’ve had to cancel a dozen events including several races, etc. September has been a very difficult month not only physically but also psychologically. When being active is your every day life, being told you can’t do anything for a long time and to stay put, is the worst feeling in the world.
Instead of being down on myself, I’ve been trying to see this as a learning opportunity to not only help myself get better but prevent further injury and put all the chances on my side so that this does not happen again in the future.
The always lovely Eva Redpath and I sat down for a chat the other day, to discuss training post-injury and what I can do once I get the clearance from my doctor to start being active again… And let me tell you, I’m awaiting that day like a kid awaits Christmas!
Eva’s 5 steps for recovering from an injury:
- Listen to your body – When you feel discomfort during certain exercises, don’t ignore it. Slow down or stop your workout depending on what you’re feeling. Let your body rest, use ice and heat as needed and allow your body time to recover.
- Consult a Professional – For any injury, big or small, it is crucial to see a doctor. Let them diagnose the injury and recovery plan. It is critical to listen to what they say and follow their road to recovery.
- Rest and Recover – Take time to let your body repair itself. If your doctor says no physical activity, then listen to them. If you don’t need to stop completely, make sure you’re following their advice and not pushing yourself. Doing too much too quickly can cause you to be out longer.
- Stay Active – Take advantage of alternative ways to train, depending on the injury, and look for ways to stay active during your recovery period. For example, walking and swimming are low-impact ways to keep active.
- Eat Clean – It’s easy to get unmotivated when you’re injured, resulting in a broken diet and fitness routine. It is important to eat healthy foods for the nutritious value they bring the body.
Eva’s tips on getting back into your workout routine after an injury:
Once your doctor has given you the okay, take it slow. It’s important to ease yourself back into your fitness routine so you can reintroduce your muscles to the movements. As you begin to build your strength back, you’ll start to feel when you can push yourself a little more. Also, it’s important to decrease reps and weight, allowing your body to work its way back up again. Bodyweight exercises are great for getting back into the swing of things. It’s important to pay closer attention to delicate areas of your body to prevent further injury. Depending on the type of injury, different workouts might work better than others. For instance, mobility workouts are great for certain recovery periods because they focus on maintaining flexibility and range of motion, as opposed to weighted workouts that can add stress to your injury.
Eva’s tips on where to find motivation when you are injured:
I find motivation from my fitness community, family and friends. They play a large role in the recovery process; keeping you thinking positively and eager to get back at it. I also look to the NTC app feed, it keeps me updated with the workouts my friends are crushing, along with helpful fitness tips from global Nike Master Trainers. Additionally, I like to check out my favourite fitness blogs and accounts for motivating content that will help keep me focused on returning from my injury better and stronger than ever before.
A big thank you to Eva for her always-inspiring chats!
Photos: Tyler – @tilore