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I am a runner and few months ago I broke my leg. If you know me you know very well how I felt, if you don’t well…you can imagine. It was a rubbish time.
I had to wear plaster for 6 weeks. I couldn’t run, obviously, I could barely walk with crutches and my arms and hands would ache continuously.
I was in pain with limited mobility and my daily life as I knew it was gone, well for some time anyway.
It took me a long time to build my running base and when I finally started doing some good miles I had to stop. Running was my way to relax it made me happy and kept me sane. Mentally this was going to be equally hard to cope with.
6 weeks went fast and I took this time to give my body a break. It was an opportunity to rest and I believe it gave me the right foundation to start training when I was finally ready.
I think it is important to take things slow and gradually build your strength back up. It will take time and at times you will feel like nothing is going right. Some days I came home and I cried. Cried because it still hurt, cried because I was nowhere near where I used to be, cried because I felt alone with it all. But that was ok. I allowed myself to let it all out. I had to. In the end it is a process that every injured athlete will go through but I would get there and I might actually end up being even stronger…….might!
After the plaster was off I waited about a week before I was back in the gym. I started with everything that didn’t put weight on my foot. I read that to keep aerobic fitness up I could bike or swim. But I wasn’t allowed to swim so the bike it was. I found the fitness bike great and challenging. I’ve built up the time on the bike gradually over a few weeks and only then I started to work on the intensity. It was great to feel my heart pumping and finally I could feel the good pain in my legs. After a couple of weeks I added a cross-trainer and rower to my sessions. Those worked my muscles and my heart and helped with my flexibility. But whatever you do make sure none of your movements aggravate your injury.
Once a week I was going to physical therapy classes, it was a great way to safely build and maintain my fitness. The classes included a combination of stretching and strengthening exercises. A lot of those I would do daily at home and those are still part of my fitness routine. I focused on strengthening my ankle and hips. Those would make me strong again and improve my future running performance. I did a lot of squats, lunges, calf raises, single leg dips to name a few.
I found resistance training to be great. I started to work on my upper body strength. I’ve learned that strong upper body can improve ones running technique and posture. Once I could put the weight on the injured area I extended the training to my lower body. With the support of my physio I worked on strengthening my legs and glutes.
I also take regular sports massages. It is a love/hate relationship but I do see massive benefits. It keeps my body in better condition. The massage can prevent injuries and restore mobility to injured muscle tissue. But make sure you go to see someone who knows what they are doing especially when already injured.
I recently started doing yoga sessions. Increased flexibility hopefully will go a long way in recovery and keep my joints and muscles fit and happy.
The hardest part for me is not to rush it. I need to continuously refocus my training and make sure I only do what is safe not what I want to. I take rest days every other day. I keep diary of my training and make notes of how it feels. Do I feel pain and if yes I add more rest. This time I want to do it right. I have goals in my mind but for the first months I only focus on getting stronger without aggravating my injury even more.