Strategies to deal with long term injury and recovery

This week marks the 5 month mark since I ruptured my achilles tendon. That is the longest period of time I have ever had to take off from being active. While I wish I could say that I’ve been totally fine with this forced time off, that would be a lie. It sucks. But this recovery has given me a new found respect for how important being active is to me. While 5 months is a long time, in the grand scheme of things I know this is a blip and I’ll get back to what I want to do. To help me stay calm and focused during this recovery, here are some strategies that I’ve relied on:

  1. Focus on the Big Picture. That isn’t to say I haven’t had my hard moments in these months, but overall I am trying to stay focused on the big picture and keep a positive outlook on the recovery. 
  2. Celebrate my Progress. My PT likes to remind me where I was a month ago or two months ago when I start to express my frustration with progress. It helps me to think about when I couldn’t do a single leg balance or my lunge was like a mini-lunge or I couldn’t walk a half a mile and look at just how far I have come.
  3. Create a routine: Creating a routine with my PT exercises has helped me maintain a sense of normalcy and structure during my recovery. When I was just starting my PT and could only handle doing 10 min long sessions, I would do my PT exercises right after my meals. Once I got stronger and could use an exercise bike, I started treating this as I would running. I would do my cycling, then my PT in one long session.  Now that I’m able to walk the dogs or walk on the treadmill, I do the same thing. I do a long walk on the treadmill then my PT exercises. I try to do these the same time every day or schedule it into my day as I would a run.
  4. Listen to my PT: While the internet is a great resource, I have found that protocols for recoveries vary greatly. What was assigned to one person with a ruptured achilles on youtube, is not necessarily the protocol my PT prescribes. So I follow the exercises she gives me and if I ever have a question I go to her first. 
  5. Use the 10% rule: Once I was allowed the exercise bike, elliptical and now walking, I have used the 10% rule to increase the time on my feet. If you aren’t familiar with the 10% rule - the idea is based around training for a race, and you shouldn’t increase your distance more than 10% a week. So if you ran 20 miles the first week of training, then next week you should run 22. Instead of distance, I use time. So if I was on the elliptical for 25 minutes on Monday, on Wednesday I wouldn’t go more than like 28 minutes. Might be overkill but I don’t want to do anything that could re-rupture my tendon.
  6. Learn something new: I had a calf thing that was lingering about 5 years ago that led me to really pulling back my weekly mileage. That extra time gave me the chance to dive into this little sports bra pocket idea I had. I actually don’t know if I would have moved forward with Koala Clip if I didn’t have the extra time. Now with my achilles injury, I have had so much free time, that at first I was lost on how to fill it. But I dived into reading which I have always loved. And I’ve started learning to play the piano and baking sourdough bread. Find something that you’ve always wanted to do and fill your time so you aren’t focused on what you are missing out on.
  7. Get enough rest: Getting enough rest is crucial for your body to heal and recover. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and taking breaks when you need them. Now that my PT exercises involve weights - I treat them like a strength training session so I do a heavy PT day and then follow it with a light PT day. As I’ve added alter-g treadmill running, I make sure to allow a “rest day” after my sessions.
  8. Focus on Nutrition: Good nutrition is important for both your physical and mental health. I spoke at length a few weeks ago about my strategies for dealing with proper nutrition but it’s important and shouldn’t be overlooked.
  9. Don’t compare yourself to others. Each recovery is different and my recovery certainly will be different from others. Seeing others recovering from your same ailment is always interesting and I have watched hours of videos that people have shared on youtube. But when I start to compare where I am to them, it often leads to frustration.

I know many of these things seem pretty evident. But I know for me as this is my first serious injury a lot of these things are something I have to work at daily. I hope you never deal with a long-term injury but if you do, maybe these thoughts will be helpful to you as well.

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UR Enough Surprise Box
UR Enough Surprise Box - Koala Clip
UR Enough Surprise Box - Koala Clip
UR Enough Surprise Box - Koala Clip
UR Enough Surprise Box - Koala Clip

UR Enough Surprise Box

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