Recovering from an Injury - Mentally and Physically
I've been super lucky in all my years playing sports that I never really injured myself beyond a torn muscle or jammed finger.
In soccer, I watched other girls suffer career-ending injuries, torn ACLs that impacted their ability to use their knees for the rest of their lives. Now that I'm 24, and not as nimble as I used to be when I was teenager (I know I'm still young, but I'm already feeling older!), I've found that sometimes even the simplest of injuries can cause me pain.
While I still (knock on wood) have not suffered an injury that took months to recover from, the past few weeks I've been dealing with an injury that I thought I would bounce back from after a day. It's been over two weeks, and I'm still feeling pain and haven't been able to workout properly.
What happened? I'm embarrassed to say that while playing volleyball without knee pads, I dove hard and bruised my knee and upper shin. No problem right? That's what I thought, until four days after I noticed the bruise on my knee was suspiciously getting darker, causing me to worry that it would turn black and cause serious issues. That hasn't happened - thank goodness. But even without the more severe injury, this pesky little bruise has forced me to take a seat on my workouts.
I didn't know a bruise could cause such a dull, constant pain that worsens with more leg activity. I was unable to do any cardio for 2 weeks or do any leg workouts. There's only so many arms workout you can do in a week LOL, but I did my best to make it to the gym as often as I could. Some days though, my knee hurt so bad that standing up was painful, but so was sitting. Workout was out of the question.
Now, this wasn't anything close to a life-changing injury, but it really did impact my mindset that such a seemingly small injury could cause so much pain and alter my workouts. Of course, going forward I need to reevaluate my safety and ensure that I don't cause myself these stupid injuries anymore. Now I own knee pads for volleyball!
Throughout the two weeks, I found myself slipping out of my routines FAST. It was easy to say I wasn't going to make it to the gym when I was in so much pain, but at the same time I did need to rest my legs. It can be difficult to workout around an injury, especially a leg injury. Pretty much all cardio requires legs except for swimming, but it's around 30 degrees outside right now.
I just did my first leg workout this morning after 3 weeks of no legs (one of my favorite workout days!). I took it slow--both in reps and weight. My knee was starting to hurt by the end, which was a signal that it was time to stop. It was a shorter workout than normal, but I spent extra time stretching. I'm looking forward now that I've rested to building up my one rep max for squatting and deadlifting, but it's a gradual process that suffered a slight setback with the injury.
While I'm lucky that this injury, no matter how annoying, was small, injuries happen to a lot of people. The severity and impact varies from person to person. It can't hurt to rest whatever body part is injured, but you can hurt the injury more by pushing it too hard. If you have anything more than a pesky bruise, you should look into physical therapy. Even if it will probably heal on it's own, it's much better to have a professional look at it.
Even more important is preventing injuries all together. While mine was easily avoidable, many people suffer injuries from not warming up, not stretching after, and pushing themselves too hard in a workout. While it may seem tempting to push your body to the brink, it's not worth it when an injury could affect your progress.