Tag Archives: recovery

On Recovery Running

Calm down.

You cannot sprint off into the pace and distances you left before the injury.

Calm down.

You cannot run like the past weeks, months, and pounds never happened.

Calm down.

It is OK to be winded and weak and dying. It is OK for the pain to still crawl up the back of your leg and nestle firmly in the root of your hamstring.

Calm down.

You are still recovering.

Calm down.

Do not make it worse.

Breathe. Just run. Gently. Just enjoying being able to run. A little.

You’ll get back, just like you have before. Running will still be there.

Calm down.

Baby steps. Baby little zombie turtle wogs.

Take what you can get. You will find the float again some day. You will sprint again some day.

Today, calm down.

 

***

 

I am trying to be good. I am trying SO HARD to be good. I am trying to run infrequently, short distances, and slowly. I am trying to modify barre classes to avoid the exercises that aggravate my hamstring. I am trying to not work out every day or twice a day.

I am trying to temper myself. So far, I think I am managing to tame my obsession, but I am struggling on the mental side of it.

I feel that itchy, uncomfortable anticipation experienced in the race chute all the time. Those terrible last seconds before the start gun. Those wretched little pregnant eternities. Yet I feel that all the time. Restrained, held back, contained. Like I’m coming out of my skin.

Getting back to some exercise has helped, but babying the leg still gives me this trapped feeling. The benefits I glean from exercise come from pushing myself to my brink, from making it hurt until the endorphins wash over my brain. I can’t do that yet, so I’m just left feeling perpetually unconsummated.

I’m trying to think of this as an investment in my body. I am trying to process it as purchasing health on the other side of this injury. Yet, with my mental balance in free fall, I am finding it challenging to sell these ideas to myself.

Patience. Breathe. Calm down.

 

Christina Bergling

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Plasma!

Three weeks ago, I received my platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection into my relentlessly injured hamstring. This came nearly on the day of nine months since the injury. It still unnerves my mind to consider all of these months of constant pain sprung from one split second of lifting my hands as I was doing the splits. Yet, after so little change so many months, this procedure was hope.

As a recap, a PRP injection includes removing the patient’s (my) blood, spinning it down to the platelet-rich plasma, and injecting that mixture directly into the injury. This is said to stimulate the body’s own natural healing. The procedure itself is brief and out patient.

The procedure was uncomfortable, as advertised. I bent over an exam table, a hole strategically cut in my awful paper shorts. My doctor’s assistant dug the ultrasound wand into the flesh of my buttcheek as the doctor struggled to make the tip of needle appear in the field. He did not find it quickly or easily. Zings and flares flashed over my nerves as he moved the needle side to side and poked it deeper into my joint.

I just breathed and tried not to focus on the pain. The pain snapping at my spine, riding my synapses in waves. My body flinched and jerked involuntarily. I tried not to focus on the detached way the doctor worked on me like an inanimate pig carcass and his assistant called me sweetie to compensate.

The pressure increased as the small amount of spun down plasma was deposited directly in my injury. Then it was over. Of the variety of medical procedures I have had, this was definitely not the most painful. Unpleasant for sure but at least brief.

The worst part of the whole experience was trying to extract information from my doctor. Throughout his minimal appearances in my treatment, his (and his assistant’s) bedside manor have been lacking. Or I have failed to communicate my symptoms, like, at all.

I initially sought treatment because of my pain level. I was functioning fine, still able to be active. It was the pain. I told that to my primary care doctor then this orthopedic. I told them the persistence of the pain was affecting my personality and causing negative behaviors like yelling at my children too much.

And yet, this orthopedic treated me with the passing attention I would expect if I came with a mild ankle sprain. I had to fight to explain my symptoms. I had to nag to get any information on recommendations on recovery or activity. I had to get pain medication from my other doctor. He just seemed to not really take me seriously, either because he thought I was exaggerating or because he thought my injury was trivial.

In either case, it made the treatment and interactions in the office unpleasant and less fruitful. However, I was willing to indulge his medical expertise. He seemed knowledgeable enough, and it would have cost months to get a different referral for my insurance.

When I initially researched PRP injections (I had to Google on my own since my doctor provided zero information or expectations), I learned that the procedure actually stimulates inflammation in the injury to inspire your body to heal it. And since inflammation is the source of most pain, the information forecast a pretty miserable couple weeks after the injection.

However, I did not live up to that prophecy. It hurt, yes. I was exceptionally uncomfortable for a couple days but neither as much as I expected nor more than I had grown accustomed. Plus there were finally pain meds to take that miserable edge off.

But did it work?

I have just completed my two weeks of rest. Two weeks of zero activity. It was rough mentally. But, over the weekend, I was able to begin gently moving again. I have gone for a walk. I have taken a barre class.

And it is feeling better. Day by day, very slowly and incrementally, it is feeling better. I am not cured or fixed, by any means, yet the pain is retreating. I have pain medication that I am not even taking. I still have aches and zings and soreness, but I am not crying from the severity. I am not miserable and bitchy all day long.

I can feel myself starting to surface again under this injury.

I wish it was just cured. I was wish I was just fixed. I feel like I have earned it after this long. Yet it is happening painfully slow for my lack of patience.

Now the challenge is to temper myself. Every day it hurts less, I want to go run a half marathon (and I did not want to run another after I ran my first). So, prior to being liberated, I laid out a gradual plan to return to my normal activity level. I had to make it up myself since my doctor provided absolutely no post-procedure instructions. I had to interrogate his assistant for the slightest guidance then still just guess for myself.

I am on week 2. Two gentle workouts. A couple days ago, I went to barre for the first time. The origin of this entire mess.

I have not been active for really a month. In that month, I have put on about 10 pounds. Yes, emotional eating as I pouted over being inactive played a large role. Yet, it turns out that all my obsessive working out did serve a purpose; it was showing. I just did not notice until I stopped. Now I have to do all that work again, without being fanatical, without reinjuring myself. I am hoping that challenge will teach me to be more accepting of myself, to live with more balance.

My recovery starts over now. Not the nine months of suffering behind me. It starts over right now.

Right now, things are improving. Right now, I can get back on track with my eating and start easing back into activity. I can start fresh and maybe find some sort of sustainable balance this time. I wish I did not have to go back to trying to slim down again, but maybe this time I will appreciate where I was.

I am SO looking forward to getting back to running. It will be short and slow to start, but it will be far better than the nothing I am at right now. I want that time back. I want that sanity back. I want to feel like myself again.

Christina Bergling

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Pills and Needles

Pills and needles. My life has become pills and needles. Who knew a hamstring would take over my life so completely? Who knew doing the splits after dance would land me here over seven months later?

My hamstring therapy has been unsuccessful to say the least. As per the last update, I went to the orthopedic, got a steroid shot directly into my hamstring, and was referred to physical therapy for dry needling. Since that point, I have continued the dry needling sessions, been started on pain and anti-inflammatory meds, and have started massage therapy in my physical therapy sessions.

Briefly, it appeared as if all the therapies and treatments were helping. The first few rounds of dry needling seemed to loosen up the injury. The first few days on the medication included relief. However, after the initial effect, things always deteriorate back to the same baseline. It is as if my body has a quota of pain, and despite any efforts or temporary improvements, it always returns back to that default.

The pain is exceedingly relentless and inconvenient. Whenever I sit up or stand. Whenever I try to lay down. Whenever I roll over in bed. If I move just a certain way. To me, it feels like my hamstring itself is snagged on something up near the attachment to my pelvis. If I move or activate the muscle just the right way, the pain is a horrible ripping zing, as if it was pulled too tight or at the wrong angle.

And yet we continue on this way.

My activity is unaffected. I continue to run and barre and dance as I would. Mostly because it does not cause pain. My hamstring does not hurt when I run or dance, though certain positions and transitions in barre will solicit that zing. Plus, I am simply over it. Nothing I seem to do makes it better or worse, so I have almost resolved just to live my life with it however I want. Adapt right over it.

But this does not feel normal to me. While horrible inconvenient and frustrating, the timeline of the injury is not really my concern. I can live with it still healing after seven months. My concern comes from the fact that it is not improving. At all. It alarms me that it has baselined at this very uncomfortable and unsatisfactory place. I cannot live with this being the new normal. I need some glimmer of hope that this will pass and it will indeed get better again.

My physical therapist does seem frustrated. And confused. Yet I don’t know how long we will just apply new therapy attempts until he resigns to sending me back to the orthopedic for the MRI. And even if I get the MRI, it may show absolutely nothing helpful.

I feel trapped by this injury. I appreciate that I am mostly functional and am able to plow through the majority of it, but the pain is definitely a factor. I went to get the medication because the pain is influencing my behavior, my mood, my personality. The constant pain signals agitate my brain, shorten my temper. I do not like who it makes me, especially as a partner and mother. I cannot afford to be a bitch all the time because my leg hurts. Not to mention how distracted it makes me in my work.

The situation needs to change; however, I do not know how much I can do beyond wait and see. I feel like every update I write on this topic sounds identical. It hurts; nothing is changing; I can’t do anything. Yet that is where I am.

I stopped taking the medication. Since it seemed to stop serving its purpose, I did not see any reason to put the extra chemicals in my body. I will continue with physical therapy and trust my therapy. I will torture ball and foam roll and stretch on my own to help loosen up the tension around the pain. I will try to rest and try not to aggravate it–no promises.

It has to help at some point. Right? RIGHT?


At the Mercy of the Hammy

The hamstring saga continues…

The last time I updated this topic, I had just come off Prednisone, and the pain was returning but manageable. Oh, how things have changed again.

This week, things culminated to a new peak of pain. The discomfort had steadily returned since the end of the anti-inflammatories. Then it started to get worse, hearkening back to the onset of the injury. Until one morning I could not walk, could not move on my own for an alarming amount of time.

My insurance denied the claim for the referral for the MRI in December, so I never did get scanned. Instead, they sent me to an orthopedic then physical therapy before they would entertain the idea of payment for scans.

So I went to the orthopedic. The visit was rushed and abbreviated. Both the doctor and his assistant asked a few questions and did not wait for an elaborations on the answers. I do not think I ever got to accurately articulate the full issue. Yet I was willing to trust. I was willing to try just about anything to change the situation and, especially, lessen the pain.

Then it was a steroid shot into my hamstring and a referral to physical therapy. I did not want to jump straight to a steroid shot, but again, I would take anything. I resolved to just go with it and give it a chance.

I had optimism in the shot, yet it did nothing. I know it could take weeks, but I guess I dreamed of the instant effect of the pills. Then things seemed to get worse. I doubt it was a result of the shot, but I do not know what changed. I did not notice any tweak that made it worse. I had not really changed my routine. Yet suddenly so much more pain. Like falling backward into the start of the injury.

The pain appeared more often and was called up by more movements and activities. Then that one morning where I could not walk.

Thankfully, so far, that degree of pain has only been reserved for that one instant and the first day of the injury. It really did reach levels that called up childbirth memories. Yet I now live in fear of it. Every catch and tweak, I wonder if it will fade. I worry I will be trapped like a whimpering turtle again. In that pain, I thought that was just how it was going to be, what my injury had become, and I think that hopelessness fueled the majority of my tears.

My orthopedic’s assistant did not seem at all concerned by my hellish morning, so I continued on to start physical therapy this week. Instead of mobility training or gentle exercises, I was there for one treatment: dry needling.

Dry Needling

I had never heard of dry needling, definitely never experienced. In short, the practitioner takes an acupuncture needle and stabs the muscle in a trigger point until it hypercontracts. That contraction is meant to reset the muscle, work out the knots, encourage healing.

Despite my extensive tattooing, I was nervous. Something about the idea of a needle being plunged into the sweet meat of my inner thigh. Yet it was not as bad as I had feared. The initial pierce of the needle was barely noticeable, and the muscle stabbing was also relatively minute. The pain came from the muscle contractions. The harder and more effective the contraction, the more painful. The sensation paled in comparison to that of the actual injury, so I just breathed through it.

The physical therapy has at least given me hope. Mostly because I liked my therapist. There seems to be a minute improvement since the needling. The pain remains just as intense, but the frequency and duration have lightened a bit. It would make sense to be from the treatment. Or it could be from starting to sleep with it wrapped or from taking a couple rest days.

I hesitate to think it is getting better because, in the past months, every time I do, it immediately regresses and gets much worse. The injury reminds me that I am at its mercy; then I am just crushed by the defeat.

Even as things have improved physically, I find myself struggling mentally and emotionally this week. I can feel the pain changing me, affecting my personality and reactions, and I do not want it to. That terrible, immobile morning has shaken me. It has made me gun-shy and paranoid, and it has also deflated my hope. I find myself frustrated and bitter all over again, as if my leg owes me something, as if I’m promised permanent functionality.

Then, at some point in my pathetic wallowing and pointless bitching, I realized that the pain is not the root of my mental discontent; it’s the restriction. And I think it is less not being able to do the activities I want and more not being able to reap the benefits of doing them. The injury simultaneous puts me in this nagging pain then limits my coping mechanisms to deal with it (and all the normal things).

I use exercise to deal, to manage. I rely on endorphins to tame my bipolar. I leverage time spent exercising as alone time and time to mentally process. It is a huge part of my routine and my balance. Which is a large part of the reason I have been pushing through the injury to continue the activities.

An amplification in pain was more to deal with but also took away the crutch. Add to that the fact that I am doing the Whole30 diet, and I am also missing my beloved consolations of alcohol and food that I actually enjoy. Not to mention the void of those things alters the chemistry in my brain. I cannot even use my Monster energy drink hack.

Basically, I have stripped myself bare, removed all safety pads, and left myself alone with life in general and this injury in specific. I find that I am terribly weak solo, without all my tricks and tools. And I am getting my ass kicked. It is all sloppy and just sad. I feel like a mess.

The realization helps, tames the beast a bit. As always, I find the true break is in my mind. And I am the only one who can fix that.


Annual Turkey Trot (Year 4)

I have now entered my near fourth month with the hamstring injury. Overall, it has improved, yet day to day, I move forward one step then back two to six. The pain moves, migrates. It has traveled over the length of my hamstring, lingered in the attachments on the side of my knee and deep in my buttcheek. It has even crept up into my sciatic nerve. Once I adjust to the new manifestation, it mutates again. More or less, I am just in constant discomfort.

Yet, beneath the constant, nagging pain, it is slowly improving. My flexibility on that side is returning, working to match the healthy side. It feels better when I’m active. Actually, it feels better during and after activity than it does any other time. The absolute worst is while I am laying down and sleeping. Turning over is an instant of sheer agony.

After working with my chiropractor and personal trainer over these months to rehab the injury, I finally folded and went to the doctor. The doctor seemed rather impressed with the severity and persistence of the injury. He sighted so many points of inflammation and compensation. I wanted pain killers, something to just ease the pain as I healed, especially while I slept, yet I walked out with anti-inflammatory medication and an order for an MRI. Physical therapy is coming. I guess I will take it. I’ll try anything at this point. The resting pain is getting brutal.

But, like I said, activity is getting better. Which includes running! After months of skipping my own runs and focusing only on training Michelle at run club, I decided at the Turkey Trot, I would try to actually run for real. I did so at The Great Pumpkin Run, but that was the only other time, and that was rough.

20161124_084530

So I went for it. I ran like I had no injury, and strangely, I felt like I had no injury. I also felt like I had not run for months and my cardio was absolute shit, especially in the blasting icy wind. But I didn’t have hamstring pain during the run!

This Turkey Trot is always a challenge. The opening mile is painful, rolling incline. By the time I finally reach the returning decline, I am usually sputtering and roasting to death in my own exertion. This year was no different than the previous, only with the inclusion of my lack of training and the wind blaring off the prairie.

I went back to basics. I just kept pushing. I just kept running. I forced myself not to obsess over my pace or gauge myself against the surrounding runners. I made my focus the lack of pain in my hamstring and not stopping. I didn’t stop. I just ran, sloppily wogging at best at points. I scarcely found a float at any point, and I dry heaved with vigor at the end, but it was worth it to feel something like myself again.

20161124_084620

I even pulled a pretty average time for me. Happy Thanksgiving to me!

I’m hoping it is a step back into running. A cautious, slow step. An attempt at moderation and compromise with my body. Because my mind is not taking this no running business. The insanity is flaring up on all sides and screaming for the outlet. Just not at the price of the flesh. I think I will always tear myself apart, even trying to be healthy, even fumbling for balance.

In addition to my own 5K, my daughter participated in the 1K kids’ run.

20161124_073843

And she ran the whole thing. All by herself with her friends. She was so excited and proud of herself. And so was I.

It was a good run morning. My favorite way to start the holiday. I crashed when we returned home, of course. My sinus infection flared up; my hamstring tightened. I just drank mimosas until I didn’t feel feelings, and it turned into a good day.

Christina Bergling

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Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

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savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


Still My Own Worst Enemy

This injury continues to humble me. That is how I am choosing to classify it so I don’t think about the trapped feeling in my body that makes a claustrophobic panic throb in my chest. I am forcing myself to consider it a continued teacher, making me confront my addictive nature, utter lack of patience, and criticality of myself.

To reestablish its dominance, the injury has migrated, climbing from the hamstring attachment at the base of my buttcheek up to my sciatic nerve. The blooming pain and lack of my mobility in my lower back transports me directly back to each horrible contraction when my son’s skull crushed that nerve during delivery. An injury I thought I had already recovered from.

The combination of all these injuries is teaching me there is no such thing as recovery. They are reminding me that there is no getting “there.” It is all one continuous journey, in which the contributions of the past are ever present. And it stupid to try and ignore them.

I am being punished for my lack of patience. I tried to loophole my way out of rest. If it’s not aggravating it, I can keep going. That doesn’t hurt worse, so it’s fine. Sure, I can start my double workout days again.

Addict.

Only I could find a way to overdose on being healthy; only someone like me could push self-care into self-harm.

It seems like such an easy thing, to take a break, to rest. It should certainly be easier than working so hard, cramming workouts in at every opportunity, pushing my body until it literally breaks. Yet my mind is so entrenched in the habit. I am so completely dependent on the routine. I don’t know how to not do it.

I think I had partially convinced myself that I was OK, that I was mentally recovered because my outlets had become “healthy.” The symptomology became masked by the positive classification. However, it turns out that the underlying behavior has not evolved at all. Instead, it has only become more clever at hiding in plain sight.

It felt good thinking I had finally channeled my damage into healthy outlets, that I had finally figured that part of myself out. The idea that it was all my disorder tricking and manipulating me is wholly undermining and disconcerting. It shakes something about what I thought I knew about myself. And maybe that is the point: to remind me and shock me back out of complacency.

In my mind, I have been concocting an illusory correlation for this injury, repeating it in my brain until it sound true. I keep thinking to myself that I encouraged it. Immediately prior to my injury, I was having self-harm ideation.

It was a strange experience. When I actively self-harmed, I would cut or burn myself impulsively. It was a spontaneous and desperate coping mechanism to escape or change the emotional pain I was feeling. Yet, these recent thoughts I found creeping in my brain were calm. I found myself thinking about hurting myself or having a wound fondly. However, I was not depressed. I was not suffering; I did not need it as an out. More, I wanted to injury for a sense of familiarity, almost from an anthropological perspective of wanting to see what it would be like and how I would respond again. It was some sort of deformed nostalgia.

It was never an impulse I was in danger of acting on. There was no panic, no desperation, no distorted thoughts. Even as these strange ideas were bobbed in my head, I had the sanity to know that if I actually had these injuries I seemed to suddenly be courting, I would immediately hate them and everything they involved. I knew better.

I brushed it off as simply old issues surfacing and resolving in my head. I acknowledged them and watched them spiral out of sight. I only really talked to one person about it, as the idea of explaining to people I wanted to be hurt without wanting to be hurt seemed daunting. Then I let it go.

Then, what seemed like the next day, I pulled my hamstring. It feels like I invited it. It feels like I deserved it for having those old strains writhing back in my brain. I feel like I did this to myself (beyond literally doing it to myself by overtraining).

Or this is just me turning on myself. Finding more of a way to punish myself for not working out to quota. As always.

I have been in pretty consistent and, at times, intense pain for almost a week now. I have been living in KT tape for 3 days, not to exercise but just to function at all. Pain always inevitably pushes me into depression. And I have been cycling harder in that direction, with awkward pockets of mania most likely stemming from the workouts I should not be doing.

Now, the injury feels more psychological than anything. The pain and the problem is clearly physical (and persistent), yet my experience of it has shifted up to my mind and emotions. After over two months, it seems like I am learning the same core life lesson I keep relearning a hundred ways. I have to let go and just go with it, accept things as they are and adapt. I keep surrendering to this epiphany in one context then forgetting it in the next. As if any life experience could be an island.

It needs to stick this time. I need to implant the idea in the center of my brain so my body can stop teaching me that I am her bitch. And I am so completely her bitch.

I need to shift perspective. Per usual. Out of my broken negativity. Instead of dwelling on the pain and what I SHOULD be doing and what my body SHOULD be able to do, I need to remember to appreciate what I do have. Any physical ability is always a gift, never guaranteed (just like happiness in the mind).

Even more specifically, I need to honor how far my body has come for me in the past two years. I would have killed to be here as I shambled around after having my son.

I need to stop trying to be thinner and faster and stronger and more whatever the hell attribute I fixate on at the moment and actually be what I am (just like trying to be sane when I’m beautifully crazy), actually accept and love what I am. It can be worse; it has been worse. Lament never changes circumstance, only squanders it.

I know all of these things! I know better. I made all these realizations about my mind years ago. When will I extend these lessons to my body? When will I stop being so hateful to the physical? I have not changed from the teenager who loathed her young and slender body only to look back years later with regret. I squandered my youth on this bullshit. I don’t want to waste more time in pointless obsession. The fixation never leads to satisfaction, only perpetual, unrelenting discontent.

With this constant lower back twinge, I would happily run back to just my hamstring balking. With my achy hamstring, I would have happily regressed to my slowest running pace. Yet when I am healthy and functional, I am never content. That is when I turn on myself the most. Rather than basking in my own functionality and relishing the activities I can participate in, I viciously scrutinize my performance and results.

I made peace with my mind long ago. Most of the time, I do truly accept what my brain is and what that means. Most of the time, I even love it the way I am. It appears I turned all that critique to my flesh, to an impossible moving target that has nothing to do with reality.

I should know this. The lesson here is already one of my life mantras, tattooed on my goddamn arm so I could never forget. What sense could it possible make to make an exception for my body? I have drawn the correlation between the two. I no longer have an ignorant excuse for being so ridiculously foolish and emotionally masochistic.

Now, I have to draw the line and step over to the other side. I should probably start by resting until my back stops sending its cries tearing up my nerves.

run

Christina Bergling

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SavagesCoverChristinaSavages

Two survivors search the ruins of America for the last strain of humanity. Marcus believes they are still human; Parker knows her own darkness. Until one discovery changes everything.

Available now on Amazon!
savagesnovella.com

TheWaning_CoverThe Waning

Beatrix woke up in a cage. Can she survive long enough to escape, or will he succeed at breaking her down into a possession?

Available now on Amazon!
thewaning.com


The Injury Cycle. Again.

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.

barre

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.

crushfrontsplits

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.

hamstringstrain

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.

Typical me.

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.

 

Christina Bergling

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