And I’m injured again.
I feel like my fitness life has become one repeating loop. Trauma, recovery, struggle, progress, repeat. It is not a path leading somewhere; instead, it is a rerun of the same circle with varied circumstance. Birth of a child, tweaked hip, now pulled hamstring. True to the cycle, I got into a hard routine, really started to see some promising results, started to push even harder. Then BOOM! Injury. Almost as if my body itself is telling me to calm the hell down.
I’m frustrated, of course. This vicious cycle beats me down because it makes goals seem unattainable if I really am only moving toward them for a hard detour into yet another recovery and new start. Yet I am also irritated because I’m an addict, and I have been derailed. I can’t feed my addiction in this hobbled state; modifications and half-measures are never enough. Some days, full force is not enough. I was FINALLY seeing the aesthetic and performance results I wanted. Or so I told myself because I inevitably upped my requirements, goals, and dreams. But then I pushed too far; I demanded too much of my body, and it objected. Strongly.
I had been taking a lot of Pure Barre classes on a promotion. Barre classes have always been one of the hardest workouts I have attempted. They nearly kill me, and I find myself drawn to the severe challenge. The more classes I took, the better I got at the sequences. I would never say good. I still struggled plenty, but I saw progress. With each class, the closer I also got to doing the splits.
I have always been super flexible, but I had never done full splits before. Following a dance class at the gym, I took some time to stretch and went through a barre stretch sequence. On the first side, I was ecstatic to find myself sitting flat in front splits with ease. I cautiously eased up to a full sit; then I slowly lifted my hands. I was in the splits! Then I switched sides. I repeated the slow and gentle process. Only on this side, when I lifted my hands, there was a loud snap in my hip joint, and my leg managed to drop even though it was already on the floor.
I sat there for a second, completely stunned. I did not quite know what to do. I kept thinking, oh this is bad; I think this is really bad. I eased out of the stretch, and my hip and leg just did not feel right. I did some cautious and gentle stretches, attempting to gauge the damage. I walked around slowly. I went into the hot tub. At first, it seemed OK, just off. Then the pain began to bloom. Different movements caused severe twinges. Soon, there was a lot of sharp and awful pain. There might have been some tears too.
As I got my two young children ready for the swimming I promised them after the class, the pain kept seizing my nerves. I bent down to pick one up and nearly collapsed. I turned to dress another and whimpered. The tears fell down my cheeks somewhere between the physical pain and the crushing realization of how seriously I had injured myself. My two babies comforted me, my two year-old asking “OK, Momma?” and my five year-old saying “It’s OK. Breathe in; breathe out.”
Later that night, after some pain killers, I lay down in bed, and my hip snapped again.
The next day, the pain was different. It was no longer sharp and horrible, more dull and achy. However, I was still mostly incapacitated, especially from a fitness perspective. While it was tender during movement, it was unbearable to stretch. I went from being able to sit with my legs out in front of me and fold over to put my head on my kneecaps to feeling a slicing, painful stretch just sitting up with my legs out. The change was unnerving to be so different from the body I knew.
Of course, I immediately wanted to push right through all the pain. The way I did when I injured my hip last year. But I did not. I forced myself to not. For an entire week, I did NOTHING. It sounds like a short amount of time, but I scarcely go a day or two without some physical activity. I even sought professional advice.
Since I never bruised or colored, I did not tear anything. After visiting the doctor and being tortured by the chiropractor, it seems like just a serious strain. With heat and anti-inflammatory pills and reluctant rest, it is starting to improve.
After evaluation and instruction and advice, I did permit myself to return to working out. However, I have been taking care to baby the hamstring, to accommodate it, to allow it to heal. I have not run. At all. Chasing my son a couple times has shown me that the hamstring is not at all ready. It actually hurts from the first stride. I have done half-strength zumba and yoga and even barre again. It is strange to go to zumba and only shake one side hard or go to yoga and only lay on one knee cap. It is weird to follow the muscle memory toward my accustomed flexibility and be so halted by the pain.
I am trying to learn this time though. When I injured my hip last year, I ran right through it and stretched the injury out over 9 months. It took way more work to recover. It just never improved because I kept straining it; I kept making it worse. I lived in KT tape, and the KT tape is the only thing that actually allowed it to heal. This time, I am going to rest while hurt, actually recover, then go back. It is killing me, but I keep telling myself that it is the right thing to do. I would rather suffer in the idle now than damage myself long term.
I am trying to take this injury as a good thing, as much as my mind is completely resisting the idea. I was starting to hit it too hard; I can see that now. I was pushing my 6 workouts a week to 9 or 10. I was adding additional days with double workouts, considering triple. I was taking away the one rest day a week I was giving myself. I was crossing that line of healthy enthusiast to self-destructive addict.
So it is a good thing that my body derailed me, a necessary thing. This will give me an opportunity to (begrudgingly) start fresh, reprioritize, see that it is acceptable to take a break and do less. I wish it did not take a serious injury to get me to step back and reevaluate, but it is a reality about myself. Sometimes, even the injury will not stop me. Like last time, I will go right through that pain.
Not this time. This time, I am learning. Or I am making the choice to learn over and over, every time I nearly fall into old patterns and injure myself further or push myself too hard.
I do miss running though. Fall weather is flirting on the edges of summer, and I just want to be on the trail in the mindless rhythm of my footfalls. My body itself misses the motions. It feels the same way it did at the end of my pregnancy and the beginning of post-partum. But I know the running is not going anywhere. The trails will not vanish while I recover. My sanity may side-step for a while, but I can find it again somewhere on one of my routes.
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