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Recovering from Injury

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About two weeks ago I wrote a long post about how I injured my knee at the end of May and the many frustrations I’ve had seeking proper treatment for it. I thought it was my best entry ever, which meant, naturally, that the entire body of the post disappeared when I hit “publish”. After much ado, tech support let me know there was no hope in getting it back. I will hopefully wrangle up the hutzpah to re-write it at some point, but for now I’m just moving on.

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So, quick facts on what’s up:

  1. The last week of May I banged my knee against the climbing walls while bouldering (not unlike me, I have very little grace in my legs when I climb) and bruised my distal quad tendon right at the top of the patella.
  2. The very next day I could barely move my knee and was in a ton of pain. Ice/rest/elevation and I was getting better.
  3. Feeling better, I went back to my normal workouts, which left me unable to walk for two days…crap.
  4. Spent a month modifying workouts and using ice when needed. No pain killers. Still struggling with pain so I saw my PCP, who sent me to an Orthopedist, who diagnosed me with a very small tear on the distal quad tendon and sent me to Physical Therapy.
  5. I haven’t been able to teach yoga since I can’t squat or lunge, I also can’t run/jump or do bodyweight exercises with significant quad engagement. Not easy, but I’ve been making it work.
  6. Just started PT yesterday, which already has made a difference. I have scar tissue in my quad so it will take 4-6wks to repair, as opposed to ~3 if I came in right away, but it WILL repair.

So I’m looking at about another month of recovery as long as I’m careful and keep my fitness up. Unfortunately, much of what I’ve been asked to do (swimming, cycling) I can’t do at home so my loving partner bought me a 1 month membership at our local cattle-call gym. It’s one of those fancy Boston Sports Clubs and, frankly, I fucking hate it. That said, recovery is the most important thing. I’m a physical person, I have two physical jobs and I was preparing for a climbing comp in September, which I still have a chance for if I take care of myself. My leg will also, hopefully, be with me my entire life so I have to treat it right.

I’m posting today to start a log of my workouts. This may not be daily, but I thought this would both help me track what I’m doing and possibly help give others with knee injuries ideas on what they can do. The most common thing I see as a massage therapist is clients who get injured, get out of a normal exercise routine, lose fitness and struggle to get it back or give up entirely and become sedentary. I’ve personally seen this lead to chronic health issues including depression, chronic aches and pains, insomnia, and in extreme cases issues like heart conditions and diabetes due to weight gain. Let’s face it, we all know proper diet and exercise make a huge improvement to our quality of health, so the lack of exercise can lead to poorer health. This is one of the reasons I’m fighting to stay fit, while also ensuring I treat my knee right to prevent further injury. The Orthopedist said this is not a time to “play through the pain” unless I want to be back in 6 months with a completely torn tendon; at which point I would need surgery. No surgery, please!

On to the workouts…

First one is a circuit I’ve been doing at home. I start with a 5-10 min warmup and end with ~15 minutes of yoga for a cool down, ensuring that I’m not doing lunges, squats or two-legged planks on the right.

No knee pain circuit (repeat 2-3x) – Total Time 30-45 mins
  1. One-Legged Wide-Arms Pushups x 10 (bad leg on top)
  2. Bicep and forearm curls x 20 each (10lbs)
  3. Tricep overhead and push x 20 each (10lbs)
  4. L side-crunch x 20
  5. R side-crunch x 20
  6. Chest push and flys x 20 each (10lbs)
  7. Kettlebell Seated Twists x 40 (26lbs)
  8. Weighted sit-ups x 10 (15lbs)
  9. Butt-lifts->legs straight full sit-ups x 10
  10. One-Legged Close-Arms Pushups x 10 (bad leg on top)

And here’s what I did for my first two days at the gym:

7/14/14 – Total time: 1:15

  1. 45 min spin class without standing
  2. 10 mins stretching
  3. 8 laps in olympic-sized pool, various strokes
  4. 10 mins sauna

Reaction: Spin class was SO BORING!! I really struggle with machines that use a lot of cardio but don’t go anywhere. I get the rat-in-a-cage syndrome. That said, I have to bike right now so…

7/15/14 – Total time: 1:15

  1. 30 mins cycling, using intervals for both speed and tension
  2. 5 mins upper-body stretching
  3. Circuit 2x of:
    1. Chest push and flys on ball x 10 each (12.5lbs)
    2. Bicep and forearm curls x 10 each (12.5lbs)
    3. Tricep overhead and push on ball x 10 each (12.5lbs)
    4. Leg lift series (per PT):
      1. Lying on back, lift one leg up, foot flexed, and lift upper body into a crunch x 10 each side.
      2. Side leg-lifts x 10 each side.
      3. Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 10 each side.
    5. Side-crunches x 10 each side.
  4. 5 mins stretching
  5. Swam 5 laps, various strokes, one lap with kick board.
  6. Attempted to sit in steam room, it smelled like a pile of old socks.

 Reaction: This was much more my style, even though I still wanted to gauge my eyes out during the cycling. It’s so boring. I have to find a way to make it more fun. The circuit was good, shorter than I’d like but it’s hard to fit everything in before work. As it is, ideally my PT would like me to do 40 mins on the bike and I’d like to have swam longer, but I really needed the circuit to make me feel good in my upper body and abs. I realize swimming is a full-body workout, but as someone who’s used to lifting weights, it’s not enough for my upper body.

Through this process I’m also tightening up my diet. I have been cheating on my food allergy diet off and on since moving back to MA; lots of temptations down here. It’s amazing that in just not eating the things I’m allergic to I drop weight immediately…like 7 lbs in a week. That’s just pure gut inflammation, and I was feeling it as my belly started protruding again. For the record, this is not a calorie-restrictive diet, it’s simply not eating the foods I was diagnosed as being allergic to. Huzzah science!

Speaking of which…after a workout like that a healthy breakfast is imperative! This is what I went for:

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Eggs on a gluten-free millet bun with half an avocado with salt + pepper and a small handful of fresh fruit. I have my healthy fats, a good amount of protein, and some carbs to perk me up. Feeling great!!