Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sidelined - Every Fitness Fanatic's Nightmare or How I Survived a Pulled Muscle With My Sanity Intact

While smack dab in the middle of a fun Zumba routine one day while teaching, I felt a rather sharp pain fly across my left hip flexor. Since the pain subsided, I thought nothing more of it but did recall it had hurt there a few days after doing this particular song the last time.  Suffice it to say this pain kept returning until I realized it was high time for a doctor visit.  My doctor surmised that I had a pulled muscle so off to physical therapy I went.

I was actually excited to be able to go to P.T. as I was sidelined from dancing or other aerobic activity and of course weight lifting was also out of the question.  I was thrilled to be able to do SOMETHING, geek that I am.  Here are the lessons gleaned from my physical therapy experience, so that you too may be able to avoid an injury:

1) Don't underestimate the importance of cross training.  I was working the same muscles in the same ways at least 4 times per week.  Your muscles get bored even if your brain doesn't.  Cross training by choosing a different activity (for me it will probably be cycling) will help avoid muscle boredom.

2) Don't you dare slack off on your weight training.  I stopped teaching my Butts & Guts class in December, figuring I'd get my weight training done weekly on my own in the weight room.  Sometimes this "weekly" session would get put off til 1 1/2 weeks or at worst, 2 weeks.  You have to keep it up regularly.  Women start to lose muscle after only 1 week, per my P.T.!

3) Don't forget to restGive those hard working muscles a day of rest or even two!  They need recovery time in order to sufficiently bounce back.

4) Don't forget to warm upIf your muscles aren't sufficiently warmed up, you are more prone to injury; we all know this but yet we don't always like to follow those directions.  We just want to jump right in to the fun part.  A 10 minute warm up should most likely do it. Be careful and above all, listen to your body.  If you still feel tight after a 10 minute warm up, do more!

If you do get sidelined, listen to your doctor and/or your P.T. and don't overdo it!  You will most likely have to make a gradual return to your usual activities.  Shine a positive light on your "downtime" by getting things done you didn't have time for like your favorite hobbies or finally watching that movie you've been wanting to see.  You'll come back to your favorite exercise with knowledge you didn't have before on how to avoid injury and how to pay attention to little pains that you wouldn't have previously.

And just remember....we're not getting older, we're just getting SMARTER!  ;-)