I woke up one Friday morning at 3:30 am-ish with my entire body aching. I had slept for an interrupted three hours, at best. I am so over this, I thought. I had four more days to go before my surgery and before I could start aggressively rehabbing. The 27 days leading up to this point had been the longest, most stagnant, boring, frustrating days of my life. Sitting still doesn't work for me. I need to run, jump, stretch, sweat, move, be on-the-go, and push myself all the time! I operate well under pressure and live for the challenge. I suppose this was the universe's way of telling me to slow down, but I strongly disagreed with this suggestion. I loved my jam packed life.
My right leg had a dull ache running down it, my glutes were on fire, and I could feel my heavy brace pressing sharply into various bruises down my leg. I needed strength. I needed a moment of relief. I needed to get this surgery over with. I was counting down the minutes until it was an acceptable time to get out of bed for the day, get dressed, and get a massage at my Pilates studio. I was hoping that this would provide my aching body a moment of reprieve, even if it was to start this entire process over, come the following Tuesday. I lay there irritated, reciting a mantra in my head over and over, You've done all you can do for today, you will start again tomorrow. I was trying to convince myself into going back to sleep, but it wasn't working. I gave up and decided to make use of my free time and started writing. I wrote a plan of attack, which seemed to put my mind at ease, slightly.
The next couple of hours I spent writing out various Pilates workouts. It was the one thing that I could physically do and knew how to modify with ease. I was still in pain and healing, so I knew that I had to be careful. The workout I was going to tackle first was simple and went a little something like this:
- Right knee bends / heel slides - up to 45° - 10x (I only made it to 30° and ouch)
- Straight leg raises - 8x3 right leg / 12x3 left leg
- Spine stretch forward - 5x
- Seated torso twist - 5x each side
- Single leg bridge (keep right leg straight up) - 10x
- Roll up - 10x
- Small stability ball -
- Back extension, abdominal flexion - 20x
- Back extension, abdominal rotation - 15x each side
- Blue Theraband -
- Seated bicep curl - 10x3
- Seated external rotation - 10x3
Movement. Movement saved me. I didn't want to do this, I was exhausted and wanted to wallow in self-pity, but I forced myself to at least try. What do you know? I did everything I wrote down and then some. There were a few things that I had to modify even more, but the point is I did it. Objects in motion want to stay in motion, and it felt SO GOOD to move again! I felt like I had a little of my sanity back. I was so down and lost in my head that I forgot to do what was easy for me and what I loved: Pilates. This is where my passion lies. This is why I teach, because I can help someone. For those 50 minutes of class time, they are dedicated to their whole self. They get to focus on the way their body moves, understand the movement, feel, connect body and breath, and more often than not, feel rejuvenated leaving the studio. Even in days of complete exhaustion, or feeling down overall, it is so important to carve out time for yourself. If you can't make a class, dedicate 30 minutes to yourself somewhere in your day to get any amount of moving in. If you don't know what to do, start with the few things that I wrote out above. (You can omit the heel slides, unless you're rehabbing a knee injury and your surgeon or PT told you to do so.)
Those that are dealing with chronic pain, I encourage you to keep searching for a solution. This severe injury has completely changed my perspective of how to manage pain, which for me was more of a mental battle than physical. Pain isn't normal to feel every day, and the search for relief can either be mysterious and tedious, or right in front of your face. For me, it was right in front of my face. My quick Pilates routine didn't take away my pain, but it took away the mental anguish I was feeling and allowed me to deal with my limitations with more clarity. If you have dealt with something for an extended period of time, my heart goes out to you. Your mental toughness compares to none; I wanted to crawl out of my skin.
Stay strong, my friends, and don't be afraid to ask for help.