Thursday, December 8, 2011

Are You Afraid to Rest?

Here is the "After"
to go with the "Before" in the banner above.
I believe that the biggest barrier to permanent fat loss and transformation may be impatience.  It makes me cut calories down too low, ignore form in favor of faster progression, and rush into cardio sessions I haven't properly warmed up and prepared for.

Are you like me?  Do you want results now?

Sometimes I get so frustrated with myself and my perceived lack of progress that I make poor choices.  About a week ago, I was gearing up to start writing the Four Week Bodylift program.  I wanted to see a certain number on the scale to use as my starting point, and I decided that cranking up my cardio intervals by sprinting would be a good shock to my system, and that I might get some more rapid fat loss as a result.  What I got instead was pain behind my knee from a strained popliteal tendon.

Here is some information on knee pain from Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Knee pain usually results from:
  • Overuse
  • Poor form during physical activity
  • Not warming up or cooling down
  • Not enough stretching

For knee pain that has just started:
  • Rest and avoid activities that aggravate your pain, especially weight bearing activities.
  • Apply ice. First, apply it every hour for up to 15 minutes. After the first day, apply it at least four times per day.
  • Keep your knee raised as much as possible to bring any swelling down.
  • Wear an ace bandage or elastic sleeve, which you can buy at most pharmacies. This may reduce swelling and provide support.
  • Take acetaminophen for pain or ibuprofen for pain and swelling.
  • Sleep with a pillow underneath or between your knees.
For knee pain related to overuse or physical activity:
  • Always warm up before exercising and cool down afterward. Stretch your quadriceps and hamstrings.
  • Avoid running straight down hills -- walk down instead.
  • Bicycle or swim instead of run.
  • Reduce the amount of exercise you do.
  • Run on a smooth, soft surface, such as a track, instead of on cement.
  • Lose weight if you are overweight. Every pound that you are overweight puts about 5 extra pounds of pressure on your knee cap when you go up and down stairs. Ask your health care provider for help losing weight.
  • If you have flat feet, try special shoe inserts and arch supports (orthotics).
  • Make sure your running shoes are made well, fit well, and have good cushioning.
Wow, reading that is like getting 50 lashes with a wet noodle.  Overuse?  Yep.  Poor form?  Probably.  Running on cement?  Guilty.

The biggest drag was that I was eager to get started on the Four Week Body Lift, but that meant I would have to violate rule #1:

Rest and avoid activities that aggravate your pain, especially weight bearing activities.

Rats.  So what did I do?  I actually followed the good advice I got, and as of today my knee is completely pain free.  I can hardly believe it.  I listened to the experts and they were right.  There is still a mild sensation behind my knee, so I will be very conservative as I restart my fitness routine.

The most important point of this post is that patience, rest, and recovery will help you reach your fitness goals in the long term, and even in the short term.  I did some more research and it turns out that trying to work through my strain could have resulted in permanent pain.  Yikes.

The silver lining to my minor strain is a renewed sense of gratitude for the physical health that allows me to move, exercise, dance, play, and just enjoy life.  I promise not to take it for granted.

So don't be afraid to rest and recover.  

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