When nursing an injury, rest is crucial. Continuing to overuse the afflicted limb or body part just leads to more damage incurred. While becoming temporarily disabled is a pain, it is often less painful than actually attempting to use your damaged appendage.
But what happens when your body does its job and heals your injury? You need to re-condition and strengthen. Not using a body part (or your entire body) is extremely detrimental to your muscle structure and overall well-being, and a lot of your post-injury pains are being caused due to weakness.
Not mental weakness, mind you.
As I’ve spoken of a few times on this site (and many times on social media), I suffered a devastating series of injuries during June 2017 in the tune of a pinched ulnar nerve, strained bicep, strained tricep, and whatever the hell I did to my shoulder. The injury set was due to my own stupidity, and I made it worse due to subsequent stupidity. And then once that second injury finally started healing, I just had to be stupid again and throw axes for a couple of hours and hurt myself for a third time in a two month period…worse than ever before.
By early May 2018, I’d given up on ever having a normal right arm again, something particularly problematic because I am right-handed. I still did not have the full range of motion in my arm without pain, and we were nearing the one-year mark of the initial injury. Luckily, that is when my lovely personal trainer, Mel, realized that I hadn’t done any exercises with my right arm in nearly eleven months.
While my arm still retained some lingering effects of the injuries, the greater issue was that I had zero strength left in my right arm. The muscles had gone dormant, and due to my body trying to heal my injuries, the lack of movement was causing things to heal incorrectly as well.
Mel gave me a series of shoulder and upper-arm exercises to do with weights. She advised me to do just a few repetitions in the early days, and to increase the number of reps and the size of the weights as needed over time. The goal was to be “good sore” the next day; you know, the soreness you feel the day after a good, hard workout. I needed to avoid being “bad sore”, as in destroying my arm further and reinjuring myself. So no Silks. No axes. Just weights.
I bought some 3lb weights, or “baby weights” as I called them, and got to work. 10 reps of the two exercises, five days a week. It took a long time, but by the start of July, I no longer felt my arm ache while I drove, or felt it pulse when it rained (which is a lot in Kentucky). I moved up to 5lb weights and continued the exercises.
By the start of August, my arm was no longer restricted to simple exercises. I began a series of weight exercises with Kayla Itsine’s BBG program: a program I’d been wanting to start for months but couldn’t due to my janky arm.
If you follow me on Instagram, you might have seen that I’ve moved up to 8lb weights and am doing even more intense exercises with them. I am also now able to do push-ups, ab bikes, and even burpees! My arms are looking more toned, and the ability to do actual workouts is rapidly toning my body back to its pre-injury state.
The moral of the story? My story is not a unique or isolated case. Well, I guess destroying your arm with some luggage in the airport is nearly as bad as the time I destroyed my Achilles tendon with a DDR mat or snapped a toe on a shower railing, but the MUSCLES thing is not unique.
Suffered a back injury? You need to build your back muscles up to support yourself and also prevent reinjury. Experienced abdominal surgery? You’ve gotta build those core muscles back up in order to get back to normal. If you broke your leg and didn’t walk on it for 8 weeks, you would need to strengthen it back up to walk correctly right? It’s the same principle for any other injury.
Try not to WebMD your strategies. Consult with your doctor or personal trainer for the best exercises to rebuild your muscle strength post-injury. Take it slow. You do not want another injury. Your body will tell you when you can go harder. How will you know? When you’re going 100 damn reps with a baby weight and feeling bored, it’s time to bring out some actual weights and do heavier workouts.