It happens to the best of us: professional athletes, marathoners, novice competitors, weekend warriors and even healthy people who incorporate exercise into their daily life: We Get Injured! …Or in some cases, our body slowly breaks down so that surgery to mend it is eventually required. In either case, it takes time to heal. I have experienced this very circumstance this past summer when I accidentally slipped and tore both my MCL and lateral meniscus (cartilage) of my right knee. Ouch!
Believe me, wearing a knee brace for 12 weeks was NOT my idea of healing the FUN way!. I really couldn’t do much movement of any kind until the swelling around my knee subsided. After many sessions of physical therapy to then help me regain knee flexion and extension, I had to work on re-building knee strength. Being a very active person, and an avid dancer, I was going CRAZY being confined to the darn brace, which, purposefully was keeping me from moving or torquing my MCL. Per doctor’s orders, I was not allowed to jump, leap, run, skip, twist, hop, or do ANY movement of IMPACT for 8-12 weeks! Ugh! Well, that felt like a crushing prescription.
Now I certainly didn’t have much to complain about…it could have been worse…such as experiencing a torn ACL (Derrick Rose version). My point here is that if we do experience an injury, we can easily slide into a mindset where we believe we are “ready” to engage in the same level of activity we did before the injury. However, our body really isn’t truly ready to sustain us yet. Here’s where the old adage, “Patience is a virtue” comes into play. Yep. Patience pays…in more ways than you can count on your fingers and toes!
It is certainly a challenge to control that desire to return to your old workout regime or exercise schedule before your body is completely healed. Our mind plays tricks on us; sometimes we just think we are invincible. Other times, we feel compelled to jump right back into things because society says we must PUSH, PUSH, PUSH and “no pain, no gain!”
Heck, it took 25 year old Derrick Rose, an outstanding, young, professional, well trained athlete over a year to get back into his game with the Chicago Bulls. His choice to stay out created buzz and controversy. But yet, he was determined NOT to rush his decision. Now, we know his professional career was on the line, and if he re-injured himself, it could cost him his life as a top basketball player. Nonetheless, he sat out and healed. Then, with baby steps, he reconditioned himself to return to his teammates in stronger form, both physically and mentally. Win-win situation!
So as I worked through my own personal frustration to regain knee strength and mobility at my local gym & sports training center. The best advice is to “ease into it”. Yep, there maybe some pain as we progress, but trust your own body and its threshholds. You will certainly need to re-teach your body the movements you were used to doing. You need to re-engage in the neurophysical patterns so that your body re-learns the movements and begins to feel comfortable with them again. Don’t push into re-injury! Take baby steps. Listen carefully and FEEL intently to what your body is saying. You will recover faster if you are respectful of your injury!