I was like a rabid dog, anxiously waiting to be released from its leash… except my leash was in the form of green foam fastened by white Velcro straps. As I was freed from my neck brace after wearing it for more than HALF A YEAR (though not the same one), I was mega-excited to enjoy my active lifestyle again. Although walking is one of the best forms of exercise out there, I was sick and tired of being limited to that alone during my recovery.
But I couldn’t be such an eager beaver just yet. I had to take it slow. With my broken neck that was still healing, I had nothing to gain and everything to lose if I didn’t take the proper approach to getting back into shape to be able to 1) feel great; and 2) go back to work in the mine. I also had to take serious care of my stiff and painful neck that didn’t have much range of motion at the time.
Here’s how I approached my slow-but-steady path back to fitness for the first five weeks after my neck brace was removed:
I end each week on Fridays (as I got my neck brace off on Friday, December 4th)
Week 1: I wrote about it at length here. I was basically limited to only walking (again, sigh) until my head got used to constantly moving itself. I tried a Therapeutic Yoga class at the end of the week.
Week 2: My physiotherapist allowed me to go swimming! Her only precaution was that I stop if I felt serious pain. I did some light exercise in the pool three times that week, plus I walked regularly.
As it was my first time in the pool in a really long time, I brought my sister to “supervise” me. Never mind that she’s 13 and I’m 26. I was probably technically still disabled then, as I could barely move my neck to look around me.
While my sister is a very good swimmer, I’m honestly terrible at it. Not only did I ask her to come with me to watch over me, I also brought her so that she could teach me proper swimming techniques. I could only do the backstroke because my neck was too stiff to swim freestyle. Nevertheless, I found our swimming session great exercise to start.
Later that week, I tried two Aquafit classes at my local community centre. And you guessed it, I was legitimately the only young person there. I counted seven white-haired ladies in a class of ten once. The distribution of age groups was literally like:
Below 50: Me
50 and above: Everyone else
… which is a pity because Aquafit is not just for older folks. Although I judged the classes as kind of dumb half the time (thoughts like, Ugh, this is so not worth my time, or, This is so lame), the other half of the time I thought that they were actually fun and that they really worked my weakened muscles.
And as it was only my second week with a MOVING HEAD, I opted for the gentle versions of the hour-long Aquafit classes offered by my local community centres.
Aquafit classes are an ideal option for those recovering from injuries (Source). Because the buoyancy of water allows your body to float, your body weight is reduced 75 to 90% due to the offset of gravity. As a result, you experience less stress on your bones, joints and muscles, resulting in low-impact but effective exercise in the water (Source).
My main takeaway from trying Aquafit was that no matter how old or how injured you are, there is ALWAYS a way to stay active and fit. I’m continuing to discover so many low-impact options out there! There’s really no excuse to avoid exercise except sheer laziness and lack of motivation (which brings us to the following week…).
Week 3: I did one Aquafit class and a 25-minute walk and that was it. LOL. Okay, to be fair, this was when my brother fractured his skull playing basketball and when my husband and I did a lot of driving for Christmas.
And it was Christmas!
Week 4: I went walking outdoors twice, despite the cold and the wind. My inner voice was nagging me to do a quick, low-impact cardio YouTube video indoors to at least “do some damage control” over all the food I ate over the holidays, but I just ignored it. Hehe.
In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, on New Year’s Day I mustered enough willpower and courage to workout to a 30-minute video on YouTube.
Why I chose to kick-start the New Year with the following workout in particular:
- My neck was feeling a lot better
- I’ve done this very video before and it’s actually good (works on your cardio, especially on your legs and abs!)
- It’s very low-impact (you don’t even wear shoes) – great for my neck injury!
- You don’t need a lot of space
- It’s only 30 minutes
- I love working out with Jessica Smith!
Was it hard? Yes. Did I struggle? Yes. Was I ready to take my exercise program to the next level? I thought so.
I felt like a million bucks after finishing this workout! But then we went to my cousin’s birthday party afterwards and I ate a lot there… LOL.
Week 5: I did considerably a lot more walking as I started going back to French school part-time and my new physiotherapy clinic after the New Year.
Other things I did to ramp up my exercise program:
- Another one of Jessica Smith’s 30-minute YouTube videos. It was when I realized all my ab strength had disappeared. Huuu.
- Hatha Yoga at Om Prana Yoga Studio. I felt that I was ready to do real yoga (unlike the other class I tried). I talked to the instructor before the class (with my usual Je me suis cassée le cou spiel) and was extremely careful with all my movements. Luckily the class was more slow-paced and gentle than usual because it was the first of the winter season.
- Recumbent bike. We finally fixed it after transporting it from Toronto to Québec! I did 30 minutes at a steady pace.
After a bit more than a month of light exercise (okay, except the holidays), I needed to start doing some strength/weight training. I didn’t want to do it alone and risk getting ANOTHER injury if I didn’t progress my workouts safely, so I sought the help of a kinesiologist to build an exercise program for me! I’m currently on Week 5 and I already feel so much stronger. My husband says my thighs have never been so muscular. LOL.
More next time!