yoga

Feeling Great!

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I’m continuing to find improvement with my knee! Next week I’ll only be heading to PT once and as long as things are still going in the upward direction she shouldn’t need to see me again for a month, woo!! I’ve learned a lot during this process and I’m thrilled that not only did I manage to not lose fitness during my recovery period, but I’ve actually gained a ton of glute, hip, core and leg strength. I can’t say this enough, if you’re in PT do your exercises. Seriously. Your recovery is your responsibility. They’re not giving you exercises for their health, they’re giving you exercises for your health. Do them.

With that said, here’s my week in review of exercise. It was my “hell week” at work as we prepare for students to return to school so that included rolling out new machines on campus, reimaging the entire campus, rolling out six new servers and completely re-doing the server rack. In other words, it was a very physical week at work for me. I adjusted my workouts accordingly.

Saturday:

  • This was my “rest day”. I took Toby for a short hike and a swim at Burgess Pond. It was probably 45 minutes of activity and much more of just lounging. 🙂

Sunday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • 30 minute Barre Pilates class

Monday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • ZuzkaLight’s Kettlebell Series Workout #1 – I was particularly thrilled to get back to working out with Zuzka. This was the first time since I’ve been injured. I did have to substitute one exercise, but this was a fantastic workout. I’ll post the workout here (with my modification) for posterity, but for the record if you like high intensity workouts I really recommend her ZGym. It’s paid, I have no affiliation with her, but I’ve been doing her workouts for three years now and I love them! You can find many free workouts from her on YouTube.
    • 2 Rounds:
      • 40 Side-to-Side Kettlebell Swings
      • 10 Warrior Rows (LEFT)
      • Standing single-leg kick-backs x 12 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
      • 10 Warrior Rows (RIGHT)
      • 20 Clams
  • 20 mins yoga, focused on legs.
  • This was the day we loaded out all the new machines, mostly desktops. It was 8 hours of lifting and being on my feet. If I knew in advance that’s what my day was going to be I would not have done the above intense workout. Thankfully, my knee made it through ok!

Tuesday:

  • 15 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike.
  • 45 minutes advanced yoga. I didn’t go into it expecting it to be as hard-core a class as it was. After Monday I needed some recovery, but this was intense!
  • Another full day of being on my feet along with some lifting but not as much as Monday.

Wednesday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
  • Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
  • Standing single-leg kick-backs x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
  • Completely redid the server room solo. LOTS of lifting, crawling, bending, etc.

Thursday:

Friday:

  • 30 minutes doing intervals on the recumbent bike
  • 15 minutes restorative yoga
  • Gave 2.5 hours of deep tissue massage
  • 1 hour gentle yoga practice
  • I’m hopefully also going to do a round of my PT exercises today. The day is still young. 🙂

You may notice I didn’t climb this week. That was more due to my energy level this week and the amount I used my upper body at work. I’m looking forward to getting back to the rock gym next week!!

From Upswing to Awesome!

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Well my PT was right, this was my week! Wearing the brace while exercising has made a marked difference with my patella tracking. I’ll have to post about the particular brace that I’m using but I don’t have it on me at the moment. I’ve really amazed myself by what I’ve been able to do pain-free this week. Here are my past two days of exercise:

Thursday:

AM:

  1. 15 minutes on the recumbent bike.
  2. 45 minutes climbing. I felt stronger climbing today and was sad that I only had 45 minutes to spend doing it. I completed all of the V0s in the gym, many V1s and worked on a V2 that was all heal hooks (my favorite but tough on the knees). All-in-all it was a *lot* of deep squats and I didn’t feel pain, yay!!

PM:

  1. 75 minute Intermediate Yoga class. This is my favorite class of the week with my favorite teacher, Nina Carmel. I was ready to rock when I came in and she taught a very challenging and creative class. Not only did I succeed, but I did poses I didn’t think I’d be able to do for months (crow, several planks, tree, deep deep warriors, chair pose) and a *ton* of balancing. My knee didn’t hurt. I iced it afterwards just in case (my PT said I may want to do that) but I feel great today. It’s night and day from just a week ago and worlds better than a month ago. I really impressed myself and came home in such a great mood that as soon as I said “hello!” my partner knew I was psyched!

Friday:

  1. My rhomboids are killing me today from all the upper body work I’ve done this week (and we did a lot of “flying” in yoga, using my back muscles) so I didn’t work upper body today. Instead I did my PT leg exercises:
    1. Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    2. Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    3. Standing single-leg kick-backs x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights)
  2. Then it was off to the gym to swim 500 meters.
  3. I’m scheduled to give 4 hours and 15 minutes of deep tissue massage today so I’ll get the rest of my workout in there!

Cheers to feeling great and I hope to keep riding this upswing to the top!

Back in The Saddle…Again

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Recovery has its ups and downs. I was feeling great after my last post. The knee pain was under control and I could really feel the upswing of recovery. Unfortunately, I overdid it in Seattle and have been slowly getting back to where I was this past week.

For starters, we just couldn’t find rental bikes that were affordable (I’m talking $180/wk, the same as our rental car), which put a damper on my plans to bike. It also didn’t help that we stayed in Mapleleaf, which is a long haul to downtown Seattle so the feasibility of riding daily was greatly diminished. That said, I did manage to do my PT exercises five out of the seven days we were there, and I also did laps in a pool for one day and yoga on one day. Obviously, compared to my normal workout schedule that is a drop in the bucket.

The real thing that set me back was, unfortunately, the walking. I was told walking was ok, and even light hiking would be ok. Apparently, my knee did not agree with the hills in Seattle. A few days into the trip a group of us headed to the Locks and Discovery Park. It was a long walk, up and down many hills. I was doing ok for the first few hours, but the last stretch of the hike took us up several staircases in the park and that’s when my knee pain really came back with a vengeance. I made it to North Beach and sat for a bit. By then my partner could see I wasn’t doing alright and he started trying to figure out how to get me back to the car without hiking the whole way back. He knew I was stubborn enough to just walk back, but I’ll admit I was glad he stepped in. He and a friend ended up jogging the three miles back to the car and picked the rest of us up. Since a couple of his friends were beat by then, they were happy to stay behind with me, which made me feel like less like a cripple.

By then the damage was done, so for the rest of the trip walking hills was painful both in my distal quad tendon and under the kneecap. I ended up skipping the group hike at Rattlesnake Ridge and hung out at the lake there instead, which didn’t feel like a sacrifice at all; it’s gorgeous!

Tuesday I was back in PT and let my therapist know what was up. She found that the quad tendon is doing much better, with noticeable improvement to the scar tissue, but the big issue now is the tracking of my right patella. I’ve always had tracking issues with my knees, but apparently right now the right patella is trying to go too far laterally when I bend my knee so it’s grinding on the bursa and bone beneath it, causing the pain I’m experiencing. She did the usual ultrasound, TENS and massage and we tried some kinesiotape to see if that would help.

Wednesday I was back in the gym for a “normal” workout:

  1. 30 mins on the spin bike
  2. Circuit x 2:
    1. Double-leg-lift w/ crunch x 15 (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    2. Side leg-lifts x 15 each side (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    3. Superman arm/leg lifts x 15  (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle)
    4. 30 KB swings (26.5 lb KB)
    5. 10 KB Press each side (26.5 lb KB)
  3. 10 mins stretching, including full leg stretch series with resistance band
  4. 20 mins swimming
  5. 5 mins in the hot tub

Unfortunately, my knee actually hurt while biking, which was new. It seemed fine during the circuit but I felt the pain when I bent my knee swimming again. On Thursday I opted to just swim for 40 minutes, which was fine but kind of boring.

By the time I went to PT on Thursday I was not feeling great. My therapist spent a full hour with me, doing assessments and additional treatment. She decided the kinesiotape wasn’t enough and that I should try a thin knee brace for patella tracking. I have to say I felt great after her treatment. I picked up a knee brace that’s intended to be lightweight and is used for patella tracking. I used it for yoga last night and overall I have good things to say. It’s a bit thicker than what I’d ideally use for yoga, but I’m struggling to find a thinner product; the tape was really the ideal thickness. I did feel like the thickness compromised my flexibility since it bunches up a bit behind the knee. Per the PT’s advice, I did play around with bending my knee a bit, and it was a rigorous class and my knee didn’t hurt afterwards! I’m going to take the brace to the gym on Monday and see how I do. I was also told to not use spin bikes since the clips cause some shearing of the bone that my patella is coasting over, and the position one rides in uses more range of motion than I should use right now. So back to the normal bikes and we’ll see how it goes!

I’m so ready to be recovered. 🙂 Hoping to climb next week too!!

Every Day is Better

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Well, that’s at least mostly true. 😉 I’m finding PT is making a HUGE difference with both my quad tendon injury and my outlook. My therapist is awesome. She’s very positive and knowledgeable. I also really appreciate that she spends so much time with me answering my questions and giving me tips.

My ankle weights came on Wednesday and holy hell are those leg exercises brutal with them! They’re not too hard, so I know the weight is right, but I actually sweat when I do them now, which is kind of awesome. Here’s a brief look at two of the exercises from my point-of-view:

Workouts from the past two days were a little light. Yesterday I was supposed to go to my awesome intermediate yoga class but unfortunately I was stuck in a server room working on upgrades-gone-wrong for 11 hours. So, no yoga for me. This is all I ended up with, a 35 min workout (I guess plus going up and down the stairs to the server room multiple times):

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 20 minute yoga-pilates fusion class.

That left me warmed up for my day, with a decent sweat going from the weights. It was a LOT of core and glute work. Again, ideally I would have also done the 75 min yoga class but that was not meant to be.

Today was a 50 minute workout:

  1. Leg lift series (wearing 5 lb ankle weights on each ankle, per PT):
    Single-leg-lift-crunches x 30 each side
    Side leg-lifts x 30 each side
    Lying on stomach, lift one leg back, foot pointed x 30 each side
  2. 35 minute advanced yoga (focusing on prep-for and actuation of bird-of-paradise).

This was a little short, but I’m giving 4 hours of massage today so I didn’t want to overdo it. I had to modify the yoga a bit (the flow included crow pose, which I can’t do right now) but overall it was a fantastic flow for stretching out my hips, glutes and hamstrings; all of which get WORKED with those PT exercises.

I’m happy to report that my knee was feeling pretty awesome Tues->Thursday. By last night it was a little stiff and it was stiff again this morning but it’s feeling great since my workout. In addition to PT and the exercise I was given, I’ve been doing self-massage using cross-fiber-friction (per the PT) and it’s amazing how much the scar tissue has broken up in just a week. I intend to hit the gym for harder workouts tomorrow and Sunday.

Next week is going to be a challenge. I’ll be in Seattle with my partner and his college buddies as they enjoy a reunion culminating in a friend’s wedding. So I’ll be away from the gym and my home weights. I’m planning on bringing lighter ankle weights, since traveling with 10 lbs of weights won’t help me with those checked-bag weight limits. The PT has given me the assignment to rent a bike, which I’m totally down for but I’m also a bit of a tag-along in this group so it will be a delicate balance of keeping myself in shape while not being aloof from the group or roping them into bike rides they might not be down for. We shall see. I’m also bringing my yoga mat so at the very least I should be able to do bodyweight exercises and some yoga. Wish me luck!

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!!

Raising The Bar

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I started week two of C25K this week. So far it’s noticeably easier this time around and I feel that’s a testament to how my level of fitness has increased over the years. It’s also a huge help that I’ve kept up with a daily yoga practice. My legs were sore last week but daily stretching with yoga, plus a longer class on Thursday night, has really helped make the soreness barely noticeable. This week I also upped my speed in half of the segments that I’m running. The program this week has me alternating running for 1.5 mins and walking for 2 mins for a total of about 29 minutes. I was excited to break the two mile mark yesterday and will try to up my speed when I run again tomorrow. I will say I’m missing my HiiT workouts. I had to shift things around to make room for running so I’m taking a break from HiiT and Kettlebell 2-3 days/wk to running 3 days/wk. While running is great to build my cardio, it’s also a bit boring (especially when compared to HiiT), and it’s not dynamic so it’s uber-focused on legs and core so the rest of my body is just happy I’m continuing to climb and do yoga to keep it active.

I reached a new height in climbing today by killing a 5.9+ route. Regular climbers may not find this impressive, but for me it was a big deal. I specifically chose the route because it had very few jugs and was mostly slopers, pinchers and globes. I hate all of those, though slopers and I have become friendly lately. I’ll also admit the two globes thrown into that route proved to be really nice resting points. But pinchers? We’re still not cool, pinchers. For the non-climbers that read my blog I will eventually explain more about those different holds so sorry if you feel left in the dark for now.

I realized it’s been a long time since I’ve posted a new smoothie recipe, so here’s my current favorite:

Pineapple Mango Smoothie
Pineapple Mango Smoothie

Pineapple Mango Smoothie:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup vanilla coconut milk (recipe here)
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 tbsp flax seed (if your blender won’t pulverize this buy it ground)
  • handful fresh baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup frozen mangos
  • 1/2 cup frozen pineapple

Blend it up in the mixer of your choice! I still love my Vitamix and make smoothies for myself and my partner every morning. If you’d like to indulge in the rest of the meal pictured above, make yourself some Scrambled Eggs with Spinach!

Scrambled Eggs with Spinach (yes, this may sound simple but I’m posting the recipe because I believe my scrambled eggs are recipe-worthy)

Ingredients:

  • two eggs (preferably free-range organic, even better if they’re local)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk (recipe here, omit vanilla and sweetener)
  • handful baby spinach
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or fat of your choosing)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in pan over medium-low
  2. Beat eggs with milk, salt and pepper until slightly frothy.
  3. Add eggs to pan and move continuously. This is the biggest trick to making light, fluffy eggs; keep them moving constantly. I like to use a heat-safe silicon spatula to keep folding them in on each other.
  4. When eggs are barely firm (maybe 20-30 seconds in the pan) add the spinach.
  5. Continue moving constantly until they reach desired firmness and spinach has wilted.

Now have your smoothie and scramble and go take over the world! 😉