Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sassyfats and the Great Discouragement

It's been awhile since I've posted anything about my rigorous workout routine. For awhile there I was alternating spin classes with strength training routines. Back in the good old days, those hard workouts gave me a twofold benefit: increased health/fitness, and decreased stress/anxiety. Or maybe that's a fourfold benefit. Math was never my subject. Anyhoo, somewhere along the way when I was workin' it with all I had, I reached a point where I was in more pain than I was willing to live with. Since seeing my doctor for my wonkybackism, I've been going to physical therapy so I can eventually see a day were I can get out of bed without whimpering.

Physical therapy is awesome. Everyone who works at the office is friendly, the whole office has a whole Zen feeling to it, and they let me lie on a heating pad in a dimly lit room after going through my exercises. Love. It. And miracle of miracles, I can feel my getting stronger. One thing, however, that I don't like about therapy is that they want me to evaluate my pain level several times throughout the day. Now that I'm tuning in to my body to really evaluate how it feels, I don't have the luxury of ignoring the pain and pushing myself to do stuff my back doesn't like. Since I'm evaluating the pain, I'm aware of the pain that much more.

The good news is that my physical therapist has prescribed a routine that helps. Like I said, I can feel my back getting stronger. And he has given me stretches to do that promote healing. However, he has also told me what not to do - anything that hurts the body parts that we are trying to heal. So if something hurts my back, I should immediately stop. If something hurts my bum hip (a bonus issue we discovered during therapy), I should immediately stop. And wouldn't you know it, pretty much any physical activity I want to do causes pain to the areas that I'm working to heal.

As a result of all this mind-body wellness crap, my workout routine has become laughable. When I manage to drag myself to the gym, all the cardio I can manage is about 15 minutes on the recumbent bike. Oh, my cardiovascular system can do a lot more. But my back is killing me after that amount of time. I can go for maybe 10 minutes on the treadmill before I need to lie on the floor, which is five minutes longer than I can go on the elliptical machine. By the time my back is done with whatever machine I'm on, I'm not even breathing heavy. Or sweating. Or enjoying any type or endorphin rush. At all.

To compensate for the lame cardio routine, I've been using heavier hand weights for strength training. But instead of standing upright and doing leg lifts while working my upper body (a move that promotes core strength and burns more calories - and makes me do a twisty motion that hurts my back), I'm laying flat on my back while using the hand weights. So even though I'm getting the muscular benefit of the exercises, I'm still not working up a sweat or getting that endorphin rush. By the time I'm done with the hardest workout I can do without adding a back injury, I don't feel like I've even done a warm-up. It is frustrating and discouraging to spend 45 minutes exercising without getting that sweet, happy exhaustion that lets me know I got a good workout. Instead of bouncing out of the gym feeling like Wonder Woman, I'm limping out of the gym feeling like the world's youngest 87-year-old.
It is beyond tempting to go back to my previous operating model of ignoring the pain and hitting the gym with all I have. But my physical therapist says that approach would be counterproductive to my therapy. Something about "creating more injury, halting all progress, blah blah blah." The silver lining is that if I follow directions, the soft tissue injuries in my back will eventually heal and I'll be able to go back to being a badass gymrat. I'm clinging to that silver lining with all my strength - it's the only thing that doesn't make me feel like I will never feel like Wonder Woman again. In the meantime, I'll be a good little patient - slaying my wonkybackism one tiny gentle movement at a time.      
Errybody say Ha-ay, Ho-oh! Ha-ay, Ho-oh!

1 comment:

Go on, spill yer guts!