When I have thought about why I train, I have had different answers at different places in my journey. All obvious “health and hotness” benefits aside, the one I’ve landed on is simple: To be strong. To be able to live life as strongly as possible. The effects of working out translate into everyday life as we carry bags, lift children—we push, we reach—well, you get it.
But here’s one I never thought of before: Train for when you’re injured. What?
Recipe for Disaster
While preparing Rice Krispies treats in preparation for having friends over to watch the debates, I dropped a kitchen knife on my foot, severing a tendon in my foot. I required surgery to repair the tendon, which had me in a splint, then a cast for a total of 5 weeks. (While I know there are some ironic and humorous puns in all of this—it’s too soon.)
Post Surgery PT Prescription: Walker + Opioids
The surgery appeared to be successful, and as an outpatient, I was released a couple of hours later, with my leg in a splint. The PT at the hospital decided that a walker would be the best choice over crutches, because “Crutches are fine when you’re 30” and “They require upper body strength.” (I am available to rant about my exchange with that PT at any time, and will likely be ranting about it for years to come. Feel free to contact me privately.)
So I went home with Percocet and a walker, and clear instructions to not bear any weight on the foot, and to sit down to get up the two steps to the living room.
The Real Prescription
I was never so grateful for my workouts as during this time. As it turns out, the real prescription involved getting strong pre-injury. Here are 5 ways my consistent practice of strength training has aided me since my injury:
1. Upper Body Strength
Who would have guessed, but swimming and lifting weights gave me upper body strength! News Flash: When you are using a walker as crutches, it helps to have upper body strength. In fact, I suggest that you need even more upper body strength using a walker like crutches, because you don’t have your armpits to help distribute the load. I definitely used the strength in my back and my arms to get around. (And the lack of armpit irritation made the walker an okay choice.)
Remember my instructions to get up the steps by sitting down and then using a chair to hoist myself up? Well, it was awkward and weird. And I ended up with my other knee being bruised. It doesn’t hurt to have Harold Gibbons as your son-in-law to come up with a solution: “Why don’t you just hop up?” So, I did. Working out meant that my legs and ankles were strong, and this made my recovery with my two stairs much smoother.
See that guard dog in the photo? Well, she needs to eat twice a day. When Harold watched me put her food bowl down, he said, “Nice single leg dead lift!” That’s right—being able to do a single leg deadlift on the uninjured leg was the way to go. Who knew?
Sitting all the time with your leg elevated may not be the best thing for your back. To counter that, I did deadbugs every day. This kept my core strong, and it kept my back from becoming sore from all the sitting.
My patience muscle is weak. But to recover, it’s a good idea to have that muscle more developed. My suggestion: The same way we are reminded that training is like farming, it helps to remember that recovery is the same way. It just doesn’t happen overnight.
Mic Knife Drop
You know when you’re not committed to something you say, “I’m not married to it.”
After all these years, my body and I are pretty much married. We have taken vows—in sickness and in health.
At MFF, we have an amazing training team to remind us that proper form helps prevent injury. But what if you’re injured outside the gym?
So am I saying to train for when you’re injured? That’s way too pessimistic. How about train for everything? For sickness and health.
For all the times of our lives when being physically strong is the best prescription.
Ready to buff up your strength training practice so you’re ready for anything? Sign up for a 30-Day Trial Membership at Mark Fisher Fitness today!