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Returning to exercise after a serious injury

Returning to exercise after a serious injury

Since beginning training with Arcadium HQ, I had discovered a passion for deadlifts and bench press. Both are compound exercises which I had previously shied away from due to a lack of knowledge and a lack of confidence. With both of these exercises, I found progress to be initially slow, yet this is what kept me interested as I was determined to feel the improvements for myself, rather than just rely on the feedback from my trainer.

Slowly but surely, my form improved and consequently my weights started to increase, albeit still at a gradual pace, but one which I was happy with as long as my form continued to improve. I was finally really enjoying my training and counting down to each session, rather than it feeling like something I ‘should be doing’ as had been the case previously.

Then came a rather big spanner in the works!

I’ve always thought of myself as the ‘sporty type’, keen to try new activities and give them a good old go! After buying a mountain bike and taking it out along the bike paths several times, I was tempted by the ‘real’ trails. My first trip was a steady cycle along the Daisy Hill tracks, easing myself in gently and slowly feeling the confidence build. It certainly wouldn’t have been the most exciting of rides to watch for real mountain bike enthusiasts, but I was pretty pleased with myself as far as first attempts go!

Armed with my new-found confidence I set out on my second ride, this time along the tracks of Mount Coot-Tha….and then down the side of Mount Coot-Tha ending the ride with a distal radial fracture and a serious one at that!

My initial reaction when I came off the bike was anger and frustration with myself for two reasons. One being the impact it would have on my ability to work, and secondly, what this would mean for my ability to exercise and the impact my injury would have on the progress I had made so far in the gym. My fears and frustrations escalated once I had met with my surgeon and found out the seriousness of the break and what was required in terms of having a metal plate inserted and an artificial bone graft.

Two weeks post-surgery, Marley and I decided it was time to get back into our sessions to not only get me back into the swing of things, but also to avoid me going stir crazy! I was worried about returning to training as I had assumed that I would be back to square one with every element of my training. This was actually the exact opposite in practice, and as strange as it sounds, I felt I was faced with a fresh challenge in every workout in the weeks following surgery. Rather than every session being ‘leg day’ as I had assumed would be the case, we instead began incorporating a lot of single arm sessions to maintain the movement patterns and muscle memory that would be required to return to our full-strength sessions.

We used every session, training twice a week, to slowly begin to build the strength back up and test the wrist where possible, whilst being mindful of my new limitations, to begin to work deadlifts and bench back into my training.

My biggest take home from this experience is the fact that there is always a way to adapt a movement without losing the integrity of the exercise or without having to change the end goal. I no longer feel that I am hindered by my injury, instead I am proud of the progress I have made in a short period of time. It has also made me refocus on the importance of correct form rather than get distracted by the numbers on the weights.

My distal radial fracture means that I still have a way to go with my recovery, however I definitely think that if I hadn’t returned to training when I did, I wouldn’t have put as much effort into my rehabilitation exercises as I wouldn’t have been as aware of my limitations, and where to focus on in order to improve.

Amy Webster