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Category: injury rehab

A Workout From the Bench

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been on the bench. I’m on the injured reserve. I’m showing up in street clothes to the big game. And, obviously, I am not thrilled. via GIPHY (Accurate AF, Julia. You truly get me.) I managed to separate my pelvis at the gym — how exactly, I don’t know, and no, I’m […]


Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been on the bench. I’m on the injured reserve. I’m showing up in street clothes to the big game.

And, obviously, I am not thrilled.

via GIPHY

(Accurate AF, Julia. You truly get me.)

I managed to separate my pelvis at the gym — how exactly, I don’t know, and no, I’m not pregnant (even though, as Erin learned a few years back, it’s a common injury for women who are expecting because your hormones are relaxing all your ligaments and tendons and stuff). I can legitimately say that it’s the most severe pain I’ve ever experienced, and although my chiropractor quickly moved things back into place, plenty of damage was done. Recovery is similar to what you’d do for a bad ankle sprain — rest, ice, gentle movements to keep it loose, and time.

However, it’s worth noting that the seemingly gentle, easy exercises I’m doing are … well, my booty is sore! And yes, I’m coming at this from a less fit place than usual, but I figured it was worth sharing what I’ve been up to because we all get injured from time to time, and it’s nice to find something that gives us a bit of a burn, right? So the following is a workout that incorporates some movements that don’t seem to bother me, plus a few of my physical therapy exercises.

(As always, it’s best to warm up first — do what works well for you and feels good, using caution if you’re injured! If it feels good to do more, go for it, and if you need to cut back on reps or time, that’s fine. When you’re trying to recover, listening to your body is key.)

It’s almost funny to look at this compared to other workouts I’ve done and loved, because I truly enjoy pushing my limits and feeling badass and strong. But I never want to experience that pain again if I can help it, so if the experts say give it time, that’s what I’m going to do. And I hope that by sharing this here, it’ll be a good reminder to a few of my fellow badass workout pals that going all out isn’t always the quickest road to your strongest self — sometimes you’ve gotta take it slow and easy in order to get back to where you want to be!

Anybody got a “road to recovery” story they’d like to tell? Maybe something about coming back and being better than ever, or lessons learned? —Kristen



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5 Ways to Keep Your Energy Up When an Injury Keeps You From Exercise

If you’re committed to a regular workouts to keep both your mood and energy up, you may be in for a rude awakening when an injury slows you down. Aside from the frustration of not being able to do your workout, you may sink into a state of lethargy from not frequently moving your body. […]


If you’re committed to a regular workouts to keep both your mood and energy up, you may be in for a rude awakening when an injury slows you down.

Aside from the frustration of not being able to do your workout, you may sink into a state of lethargy from not frequently moving your body.

To keep that lethargy from becoming your new normal, it’s wise to engage in other activities that feed your mind, body and spirit the same way that your exercise routine does, but without aggravating your injury.

Here are five ways to keep your energy up when an injury has got you down.

1. Play Music

Put on a song, but not just any song. Choose something that speaks to you directly so it will impact your mood. Studies have shown that listening to music releases a mood-enhancing chemical in the brain, so you may experience something similar to a  runner’s high when you pop on your favorite Stevie Wonder tune. Add a little movement while you listen, and you just may find yourself dancing — another excellent way to keep your energy up.

2. Eat Clean

If you’re unable to work out regularly, sticking to a healthy eating plan will help you feel better. Eating junk will not only make you susceptible to weight gain, it will also trigger mood swings and energy crashes. While you don’t have to restrict yourself to the point of dissatisfaction every time you eat, you do want to make healthy choices most of the time so that your meals provide nourishment and energy.

3. Meditate

Although it doesn’t look like much from the outside, sitting still in meditation allows your mind and body to relax, which restores your well-being. By focusing on your breath and allowing your thoughts to calm, your nervous system resets in a way that is similar to taking a nap. And don’t worry if your thoughts never calm; the act of simply sitting will still boost your energy.

4. Take a Walk

While sneaking in a walk by parking far from your destination or taking the stairs instead of the elevator is always a good idea, you’ll experience even more benefits when you make walking a part of your routine. You may notice that by strolling outside you inspire more creativity in your life as it provides the space you need to clear your head. And now with temperatures dropping, the brisk air will serve as a major wake-up.

5. Exercise

Depending on where you’re injured, you may still be able to participate in a modified workout by focusing on the areas that aren’t hurt. This means if you’re suffering from a twisted ankle, try an activity that you can do seated or lying down (like Pilates) so there’s no pressure on your ankle. You could also do upper-body weight training (like this workout). The point is to keep your blood flowing and to move your body regularly because this ultimately will keep your energy up.

How do you keep your energy up when you can’t do your regular workout? —Elysha



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3 Things My Exercise Injury Taught Me

There are many downsides to getting an injury — you may have pain, you may have to take a break from your exercise routine, or you may have some serious damage to your body. All of it sucks! But what if you chose to see your injury as something more than just a setback? What […]


There are many downsides to getting an injury — you may have pain, you may have to take a break from your exercise routine, or you may have some serious damage to your body. All of it sucks! But what if you chose to see your injury as something more than just a setback? What if you could use the experience as a teachable moment, an opportunity to learn so you can move forward in your life with more insight, even wisdom?

As a hip labral tear has made me rethink the way I use my body, I’m reflecting on the good things that this injury has taught me.

What I’ve Learned From Being Injured

1. To listen to my body. My injury didn’t happen overnight; it came from years of overuse. My body gave me the signs along the way that something was wrong, but I chose to ignore it. So as I was running, and my hip started aching, I ran through it. I always pushed through the pain because I was determined to stick to my workout no matter what. Our bodies know best. When something isn’t right, your body will let you know. It’s up to you on how you will respond. Now, as I go through a rehab program, I’m paying close attention to all the signs my body gives as I don’t want to trigger the injury. So if you notice a little pang of pain in your workout, tune in and notice what your body is telling you. The sooner you start to listen, the more in touch you’ll be, and the less likely you will get injured.

2. To slow down. As a yogi, I was always comfortable with the idea of slowing down — on the mat. But on the running path or during a HIIT session the last thing I wanted to do was go slow. The problem with moving too fast is that often our form gets sacrificed. As our alignment gets sloppy, we are more prone to injury. Now that I am actually injured, moving fast feels rushed. It’s harder to notice the signals when my body is rushing around. Going slowly allows me to be more mindful with my movement, which not only helps heal my injury, but also it keeps me more present in the rest of my life.

3. Nothing is permanent. The situation I’m in now, like everything in life, will change. Currently, I’m in PT for my injury, and that will eventually end, bringing me to a new situation. Whether my hip heals completely and I return to the running track, or I end up in surgery, it’s all just a phase, or season of life. If I can listen to my body and slow down along the way, I’m more equipped to enjoy myself as the seasons change.

How do you deal with injury? —Elysha



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Keep Your Back Healthy With These 5 Exercises

Since last fall, I’ve been going great guns on my daily yoga practice. One month turned into three and then nine. On top of that I walk my dog every day; 3.5 miles is the norm. This routine seems to meet all of my physical and mental needs. I think I look pretty good and […]


Since last fall, I’ve been going great guns on my daily yoga practice. One month turned into three and then nine. On top of that I walk my dog every day; 3.5 miles is the norm. This routine seems to meet all of my physical and mental needs. I think I look pretty good and more importantly I feel good.

That was until I threw my back out, and no, it did not happen in yoga. I was bending over to pick up a stick; a freakin’ stick!

The doctor said I had overextended my sacroiliac joint due to an anatomical imbalance in my posterior chain. The sacroiliac joint, or SIJ, is the part that connects your sacrum to the pelvis. (You have two, one on each side of your spine. Put your hands on your low back and stretch to find it.) In laymen’s terms, he was nicely saying that while my core strength and flexibility were excellent (thank you, yoga), my backside could use some work.

Ouch.

5 Muscle-Strengthening Exercises for the SIJ

Balance, as always, is key. The SIJ is a finicky little bugger; it needs to move, but just a little. To hit that Goldilocks zone you need to have strong glutes and hams, good core stability and muscle flexibility, plus hip mobility. In other words, you’ve gotta have it all!

The following exercises are recommended to keep the SIJ stable and in good working condition:

1. Bear Crawls. Reciprocal or alternating movements (like the bear crawl) guarantee that both sides of the body put in the same effort.

2. Glute Bridge with March. If you sit all day, your whole body will love this hip-stabilizing exercise.

3. The Plank. On your elbows or with straight arms, do all the planks to strengthen your entire core.

4. Dead BugThis exercise works on coordination, strengthens the core and corrects muscle imbalance.

5. Squats/Split Squats. Our glutes are the strongest muscles in the body; they surround the SIJ and keep it and the pelvis stable.

As we age, we lose muscle mass and function; it starts in our thirties. Even if you work out every day, you’ll still lose some! It sucks, but it’s a fact of life. It’s estimated that 25 percent of all low-back pain is caused by the SIJ. Work these exercise into your regular routine to keep your back strong and pain-free.

Is your workout routine balanced? Since my injury, I have continued with my daily yoga (the benefits are too great to stop), but have added two days of strength training to my routine and have been pain-free ever since. —Karen



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How to Make Peace With Your IT Band

Of all the nagging pains I hear runners complain about, IT band pain seems to be the most common. To make things worse, it’s one of those injuries that with time and rest goes away, only to return again when you least expect it. I get it. I played this silly game for years. While the pain and frustration may […]


IT band

Of all the nagging pains I hear runners complain about, IT band pain seems to be the most common. To make things worse, it’s one of those injuries that with time and rest goes away, only to return again when you least expect it. I get it. I played this silly game for years.

While the pain and frustration may leave you wanting to curse your IT band, it’s actually not your IT band’s fault that you’re hurting — typically it’s merely symptomatic of a larger problem.

To understand the real reason why your IT band might be perpetually angry, let’s back up a few steps.

What Is the IT Band?

The iliotibial (IT) band is a thick tendon that attaches to your tensor fascia latae (TFL) — a relatively small muscle at your outer hip — and runs down your leg, connecting to the outside of your knee. When it gets inflamed, it typically manifests as pain at the outside of your knee when your knee is bent. It’s often mistaken by runners to be a potential knee issue, but just because the pain is at your knee doesn’t mean the problem is there. In the case of IT band pain, that’s simply where the tendon rubs.

Why Does It Get Cranky?

In some of the milder cases, the solution might be as simple as buying new running shoes to control the amount of pronation (rolling inward) in your feet or not running on a surface that’s banked, which forces one of your legs to be slightly higher than the other.

However, most often, I’ve found the underlying cause to be related to insufficient hip strength and stability. To tell if this might be the case for you, look at pictures of you running, particularly toward the end of a race. Look past the am-I-there-yet grimace and zero in on the positioning of your hips. Notice if one of your hips dips lower than the other. You can tell by looking at whether the waistband of your running shorts is level when only one leg is supporting you.

When one hip dips, the IT band is in a super stressed position — lengthened to maintain your center of gravity and protect the alignment of your skeleton. In my experience, this is usually traced back to laziness in the muscles responsible for controlling the stability of your hips, particularly the gluteus medius and maximus.

If these two glute muscles are asleep, other muscles try to do their jobs. But sadly, no other muscle is designed to be the powerhouse that your glutes are so things farther up and down stream start to get a bit wonky.

Just to make this all even more fun — as counterintuitive as it may seem — it’s totally possible to have the IT band that hurts be on your stronger and more stable side. When your weaker side lacks sufficient hip strength and stability, the stronger side tries to pitch in and help. Depending on the severity of the hip dip, you may find that your “good” side gets angry because it always has to take up the slack of your weaker hip.

How to Make Peace With Your IT Band

To take the pressure off your poor IT band, you need to stabilize your pelvis by getting your gluteus medius and maximus back online and pulling their own weight.

To do this, I recommend exercises that work each side of the body independently. Since running is a one-leg-at-a-time movement, it only makes sense to make sure that each side of your body is responsible for doing its job without being able to rely on the strength and/or stability of the other side.

Here are some of my favorite moves:

  1. Hip Hikes: Stand with your left leg on a step and your right leg directly beside the left leg, hovering off the step. Drop the hip of the right leg as far as possible while keeping your shoulders level and hips squared forward.
  2. Clamshells: Lie on your right side, legs bent at 45 degrees, hips, knees and ankles stacked, heels together. Using your glutes, lift your left knee away from your right knee as high as you can without moving your pelvis or separating your heels.
  3. Single-Leg Squats: Stand on your right foot in front of a chair with your left foot lifted off the ground in front of you. Press your hips back and tap your butt on the edge of the chair, standing knee tracking over your second and third toes. Use your glutes to return to standing.

Do 2 to 3 sets of 8 to 12 reps of each move per side every other day. If you notice which side is weaker when doing these moves, I recommend doing a few extra reps on your weaker side until you feel a little like the strength on both sides is more similar and balanced.

Have you ever dealt with IT band pain? —Alison 



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