Resistance Training = Injury Rehabilitation

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.

Physical weakness.

DO YOU EVEN LIFT, BRO??? I certainly didn’t for eleven months. And that did more harm than good.

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.

Or, y’know, if noodley arms are your goal, just continue to skip arm day and any other arm movements 4eva.

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.

And now?

My current weights of choice. Hoping to move up to the 10-pounders by mid-September! Fingers crossed, y’all!

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.

Mel is proud. Proud is Mel. Is Mel proud? Proud Mel is. Is proud Mel? Mel proud is. Mel is proud.

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.

I mean, really? REALLY? Is WebMD EVER actually a good idea? Leave the rehabbing to the professionals.

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.

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When The Aerial Arts End…

As those of you who follow my social media channels know, I attended my first aerial arts class in January 2017. It was a skill I had wanted to pick up since I had first seen Troian Bellisario’s Silks photos on her Instagram page. I scooped up my friend Dominique, and we took an intro class together.

The intro class was difficult, but so much fun! We instantly signed up for a 4-week training course, which taught us the basics of Silks, Lyra, Trapeze, Pole Dance, and Rope. Silks called to me just as I’d hoped it would, and following the training course, I started attending Silks I classes, along with some Pole classes and some Yoga classes.

I constantly spoke of Silks on social media, posting photos of my latest endeavours and sharing my progress with others. Most of my June was booked with travel, and I was sad that I would miss almost a month of training. Still, Nashville (for 30 Seconds To Mars), Owensboro (for OMGCon), and Anaheim (for VidCon) were calling my name, so I set forward for a month of road trips and flights.

So, why haven’t there been any new Silks photos since then? And why have I been speaking the praises of running and HIIT routines, and posting gym selfies?

When traveling to Anaheim, I had a lot of things to carry. My super-stuffed to max-capacity duffel bag was resting on my right shoulder. My purse was also stuffed to max capacity and was looped around my right forearm. I had to help my team carry some of their luggage, so I gripped the handle of a heavy suitcase with broken wheels with my right hand and dragged/carried it through the airport. Remember the location of all of these placements, boys and girls.

Around my third night in Anaheim, I noticed that my arm was tingling. Mainly in my forearm, but a little bit of everywhere. I didn’t think much of it and went to bed. The tingling continued through the rest of the trip in varying amounts (feeling better at the start of the day and worsening by evening), and it reached it’s ultimate annoyance and pain after touching back down in Louisville one week later.

After another week, I noticed that I was having tingling in my right wrist as I typed, that lessened or worsened depending on how I positioned my arm. My immediate fear was that I was developing the dreaded carpal tunnel, and I was relived to find that my symptoms and location of the tingling were not compatible with a carpal tunnel diagnosis. Still, I put off Silks classes for another week to allow whatever was going on some time to heal.

I eventually pin-pointed the radiating point of the tingling to be in my mid-forearm of my right hand, and it would radiate down to the wrist and up through my upper arm. A chiropractor friend listen to my description of the problem and my balancing act in the airports of California, and promptly diagnosed me with a pinched ulnar nerve.

Great.

Ever since the tingling had begun, I had had the overwhelming urge to do push-ups. It felt mostly like I needed to pop” my arm back into place, which my friend advised me was a result of essentially discombobulating my entire arm with the luggage. The other feeling was that I needed to get a knife and slice my arm open to relieve pressure, but I liked the push-ups idea far better.

I decided to attend one of the Yoga classes at the aerial arts gym to see if that would help to realign my arm properly. It was difficult at times, but by the end of the class I felt much better. Score one for my instincts! I figured I would continue with the Yoga classes only for another week or so and then go back to Silks and Pole.

Wrong.

Later that night, I was having dinner with my mother when suddenly it felt like I’d been punched in the arm. The bicep and shoulder region to be more specific. For reasons unknown, I couldn’t move my right arm above the elbow without excruciating pain. Forks aren’t that deadly, y’all.

After two days of agony, I took a trip to my friend Monica, who is a massage therapist. Without even telling her where the problem was, she immediately became alarmed at how tense and tight my right bicep was, along with a good deal of shoulder tension. After a painful 15-minute massage, my arm was at least usable, and at least the pain was making me forget about the tingling from the pinched nerve.

As someone who only visits the doctor when she’s on death’s door, to this day I still have no clue what happened to my shoulder and bicep. For the rest of July and most of August, I could not lift my arm straight up or straight out without intense pain and agony. When the arm would feel better, I would wind up overusing it, and I would wind up at square one again.

Luckily as October nears, I now have most of my range of motion back, and my arm (from top to bottom) feels fairly normal. Fairly normal because it feels different than my left arm and there is still occasional tingling, so my body has probably just adjusted to the weirdities of my right arm’s plight. But I’m not using Icy Hot and massages nightly at this point.

Unfortunately, my poor diet throughout the month of June and my lack of exercise throughout June-August led to a very squishy body. I had lost all toning and had gained a good 10, maybe 15, pounds.

A rave-themed 5K was coming to Louisville at the end of August, and I made the impulsive decision to sign up for it 3 weeks before the race.

Oy vey.

I began training immediately and was surprised to find that I was in better shape than I’d expected to be in. I ran the 5K (the Night Nation Run) with my good friend Laura, who is a nutritionist and is my go-to- person for health and fitness, it was really fun and they even had glow decoration for all the participants. The 5K went amazingly, and I had also lost around 5lbs from my training.

Throughout September, I’ve been working to reform my eating habits back to a diet of veggies, soups, and fruits. I am taking vitamins again. And I’ve been running for 20 minutes per day 3-4x/week and doing HIIT workouts in my townhouse 5-6x/week. My tone is coming back. The squish is coming off. And I feel much better 🙂

Will I ever go back to Silks? Maybe. I was enjoying it a lot, but I’m pretty positive that I’ve got some sort of permanent damage in my right arm now (which is also my dominant arm, go figure), and it would be extremely dangerous if my arm decided to go out while I was at the top of a fabric.

Running and online HIIT workouts are cheaper, more organic, and easier to accomplish with friends! So for now, I’m sticking with those while on my fitness journey.

If you have any questions about learning to run, HIIT workouts, at-home workouts in general, or what not to do with your arms when you go to an airport, let me know in the comments 😀

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