It’s official: I broke a sweat this week! In celebration of this momentous occasion, let’s take a trip down memory lane and go over the highlights of my road back to mobility after my hip labrum surgery on September 10th.
I’m now finally doing some more “intense” physical therapy, but it still leaves a lot to be desired. Up until this past week, it felt like it had been years since I had gotten my heart rate up enough to do anything aerobic. I was pretty much on the Kill Bill physical therapy plan which involved laying down and staring at my feet while calmly saying ‘wiggle your big toe’. This can be done in the backseat of the Pussy Wagon or on any flat surface, for that matter. I slowly worked my way up to imagining that I was walking around and doing strength work, followed by some light leg movement. I say movement, but it more closely resembled a twitch.
Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it was still pretty ridiculous. But it wasn’t too ridiculous for a montage:
I couldn’t show you all of my non-intense routine. For the first couple of weeks it was all basically just simple leg movements. The closest thing to actual exercise was the spinning with no resistance, which was painfully boring. The rest was probably very similar to kegels; I would have to do nothing more than lay there and flex various muscles in the legs. This is otherwise known as ‘fun’.
There was one conversation with Reno Stirrat where he mentioned how when he was coming back from an injury, he would do stair intervals on crutches. On crutches?! This got me thinking about my current exercise routine. I don’t think my wife was too thrilled with the idea of me doing stair reps on crutches without anybody else around to help if needed. If EJN falls in a staircase and nobody is around to hear him, does he make a sound?
Just before I was due to toss the crutches I did finally grow accustomed to them. For a fleeting couple of days they felt like an extension of my body. Notable accomplishment: I did master holding a full cup of coffee while walking around on crutches. How do you like dem apples? My favorite move ended up being the side-to-side shuffle. Perhaps it’s more like a scuttle? It’s the only thing that I remotely miss about the experience, but don’t miss it nearly enough to want to revisit it.
After the crutches were out of the picture, the real work could begin. It didn’t come quickly though. After three weeks of crutching around, there were another three weeks of PT and strength exercises, but still nothing that put me in danger of sweating.
In the midst of that phase, I accidentally ended up with an audience. I was attempting to do some light spinning in my gym’s spin studio after a PT session when a full-blown spin class broke out around me. There I was, feebly spinning the pedals and all of a sudden there was this instructor barking orders, people sweating, and jamz pumping. All I wanted to do was catch up on my Level Renner reading on my iPhone while ‘working out’, then that happened. What was I to do? I took the chance to live tweet the experience. It’s hard to believe I used to be a competitive athlete. How do you go from road races to tweeting from a spin bike?
It’s gonna be awkward when my 1/2 hr is up in the middle of their class. Maybe their techno jock jamz will distract from my leaving. #fakeit
— EJN (@EJN_OnTheLevel) October 18, 2012
It was at the six week checkup with the surgeon where I was finally cleared for the real work: elliptical and pool running. I remember excitedly telling the news to my physical therapist (Melissa) the very next day. She agreed, but it was almost too good to be true. After six weeks of nothing more than zero resistance movement I would finally be able to start getting some real exercise. “How much resistance?” I asked, but quickly realized the stupidity of the question. There’s no such thing as zero resistance pool running; that would be drowning.
When the tiger is in the cage for too long sometimes the tiger doesn’t know how to act when it’s released. I’m now entering into the next phase: doing real activity with my tolerance for it as my guide. Bring on the resistance (and the stairs)!
The first time on the elliptical was almost embarrassing. The display told me that I was burning 8 calories a minute. Eight?! At that rate, that means I’ll be taking calories to the grave. If I ate a Snickers that day, those calories would never leave my body.
My elliptical tolerance grew quickly, the core and strength work kept getting better, and then last week I finally got into the pool. That’s the big step forward there. It’s such a good workout, working the upper body as much as the legs. I was afraid that I’d need the flotation belt to assist me, but much to my surprise, I was able to aqua jog with no assistance.
It was the perfect setting for my first time there; the pool was devoid of any other swimmers. I found the ‘no running’ signs to be quite humorous and also motivational. Since I was alone, it was easy to picture those signs as being placed there just for me, warning and mocking at the same time. That, combined with the last year or so of no running, really helped fire up the competitive spirit within. The half hour went by fairly quickly and I was even able to throw in some surges over the last couple of minutes. No running, my ass. I’ll be back soon, damn those signs!
All of this culminated in my elliptical session from this past Saturday (11/3). Intensity increased, body temperature rose and a long dormant internal mechanism groaned back to life: beads of sweat gathered on my skin as my body attempted to regulate its temperature.
Oh yes, I’m coming back. I’m cautiously optimistic about 2013. For now, I need to get ready for some more aqua jogging.