Well it really does feel like a happy Friday. It’s been a tough week of leg pain and weakness which, combined with some ‘other’ life issues, led to a heavy mood drop by mid week.
I listened to my body and stopped training for this week. After all, there are only so many times you can train your uppers without them needing a rest too! It felt just too unsafe to work my legs more than necessary. I am also aware that I am carrying some stress and we all know what stress does to the fibro body – This fibro body was talking and I was listening.
I love it enough to listen and it told me what it needed was a rest.
From Monday, I took the rest, doing only what I had to; which is basically wash, work, eat, sleep and focussing on what I know to be true rather than my negative thinking. Yesterday I felt much better and today the same.
However, as you know, I’m proudly fighting fibromyalgia with fitness, so for me this is a rest and a rethink. It’s too important to quit, even though my health is flaring and it can make me question what to do, experience tells me I have to keep moving to feel better. I guess this week is a literal extension of the pain barrier I referred to last week. I don’t neglect myself though nor am I reckless.
So I really need to strip it back to basics to see if I can gauge my current level and figure out if it was a particular exercise my legs didn’t like, the variations, or the amount.
I’ve stressed how important it is when exercising with a chronic illness (or two!) to listen to your body and respond when it speaks.
Here’s the plan:
Using paracetamol and ibrupofen. I haven’t needed to use medication too much since the accident, but I’m not anti nor am I a martyr. I believe I should use them as little as necessary because there may come a time when I might need them much more and I don’t want to risk building a tolerance. That said, medicine is designed to support us, it’s amazing and can make a vital difference. If you need it, you need it. I also think it’s a valuable part of resting because reducing pain helps my muscles relax and in turn my mind. Enough said.
Maintaining self awareness when walking. Since the accident, I now Park and Ride that last mile into work, but it’s still a fair walk from the bus stop to the office. Including steps! Earlier in the week those walks were tough but as my aches reduced, my walking improved. As I walked or climbed stairs, I was mindful of how my legs felt, noted pain – where it was, whether it was sharp, considered if one movement hurt more and so on. What I’ve learnt is with rest, I’ve progressed with my daily routine, not worsened. None the less, they were painful and this didn’t subside fully until Thursday. I’m aware that my knees still feel fragile but with minimal pain. I’m OK but fragile so over doing it will likely undo my good work.
I’ve also been reflecting on my activity levels in the build up to this episode. If I’m honest on reflection I think pacing as, (ahem) been something of an issue!! My trouble is my ambition outweighs my ability at times. I tell myself lying on my couch after work, happily blogging isn’t exhausting my energy, when I know that isn’t true. Without realising it initially, I learnt that when my training routine is disrupted, so too is my pacing routine. This feels like good learning and something to be mindful of. I’m taking this realisation into next week’s training plan. Back to being a weekend blogger for me then.
I’m going to delay training until the weekend because I don’t have work so if necessary have a full day to recover. I’m not going to take any pain relief before I go because I don’t want to mask any symptoms. I’m also planning to do a light all over routine rather the focus on one area as I usually do, I’m going to gently work my body and listen to how it responds. What I mean by this is usually on ‘leg day’ I would complete 5 or 6 different leg exercises in one session. This is great to target all your leg muscles but not great if you’re trying to isolate any problems. I plan to do one or a maximum of two leg exercises. Also I’m keeping the time to a minimum for the same reason; with the aim of building up gradually if all goes well.
Tomorrow is the day. It will be my first time in the gym since Monday and since the pain and the fatigue whooped my ass! I’m a little nervous but confident in my belief of myself.
I waited until now until report how it yesterday went, just in case, but so far all indications are that…it went well yay!!
I decided to do 10-15 minutes on the cross trainer and if that went well move into straight leg dumbbell deadlifts. I started with the cross trainer as felt this was low impact. I made sure all levels were set to 1. At first my knees were very creaky and it I nearly gave up but before I did I altered my position to check out what felt most comfortable. In no time, it seemed my legs woke up, I kept it gentle but soon the knee clicking stopped and I found myself in a rhythm. For the last few minutes I increased the incline to slight hill climb and was surprised to feel that this felt more supportive for my knees, probably because I wasn’t extending them as fully; interesting.
I then focussed on my uppers, including some abdominals for a little while, as I know from experience that working your core involves hip stretches, so I wanted to know whether this would be a problem but again it wasn’t. Back to uppers and then I finished with the straight leg dumbbell deadlifts. Legs to start, legs to finish. There was no pain in my legs, I felt relaxed but energised. I chose this excercise specifically because it’s focus is mostly on the lower back and glutes. Doing this means I wasn’t pushing the same legs muscles too hard and provided the opportunity check for any warning signs in my lower back, glutes and hips. I felt satisfied of a job well done.
Waking up this morning, I have an average muscle ache, but importantly no pain. I plan a couple of days of recovery from training legs now to gauge how they feel. I’m tired but not too much so. Time will tell, but right now I’m feeling happy.
It’s important to listen to your body and give it what it needs but don’t exclude the idea that exercise may be what it needs too.
Fingers crossed for next week’s progress for us all.
Bye for now.
On social media this week I shared the above post and in doing so had a lightbulb moment 💡 – I decided to write an entry about ways to exercise at home.
So here it is!
I’ve divided the body into parts and tried to find a home exercise for each muscle group to provide a full workout. There are a lot more variations available than I feature, but I hope this post will at least give you some ideas and help you come up with more home exercises that work for you.
Calf raises are great for toning calves and also for loosening those tight muscles. I employ my bottom stair to do mine, it also means I can hold onto the rail if I’m feeling unsteady. Of course, if you have no steps or stairs at all, these can be done on level ground, simply by raising from flat foot to toe and back.
Here’s some I prepared earlier!
From the picture I hope you will see that in order to maximise impact on all parts of my calf muscle, I turn my feet in three directions – straight, toes turned out, toes turned in.
The balls of my feet are placed firmly on the step with heels hanging off. I then raise up onto to my toes stretching as far as I can and then pushing down into my heels to feel the reverse stretch. Up, up, up & then, down, down, down!
Try to do 3 sets of 10 repetitions but obviously stop if you feel any pain – this is about feeling better not worse! Any amount is progress. I do:
1 x 10 repetitions foot straight. 1 x 10 toes pointed out, 1 x 10 toes pointing in. 30 repetitions in total…pretty good for five minutes work.
I’m still unable to train my legs for a few more weeks, I think the calf raises pushed them enough, I know you’ll understand. Instead courtesy of Pinterest, (I think posted by Snow Rehab) I found this leg workout that I would do at home.
I tend to focus on squats, lunges and the wall squat. If, like me you have wood floors, be sure to wear trainers or go bare feet for more stability. Socks are fine on carpet I find. You could do 10 lunges, 10 squats and the 50 second wall squat or try them all! Whichever works best for you.
By far the best ab workout I use is the 7 minute ab workout by Athlean X. I either follow it, or complete variations I’ve learnt from it. The link is attached in my post The Challenge of Fatigue part 2 but to save you time…….
However for something more gentle, because of my leg injury, I have been supporting my legs by resting them on my armchair and performing a version of incline sit ups.
I place a throw under me for support (who needs a mat!!) I lift and squeeze my stomach muscles as I do, relaxing as I lie back. To focus on my obliques, I add a variation by putting a twist in.
Chest and back & shoulders.
Yup, it’s gotta be the press up. It doesn’t matter if you do them on the stairs, half or full, they’re great for working your chest, back and shoulders. It’s an all rounder – a must have like the squat.
I’m doing half press ups on my knees, well I’m actually doing a demo only because of my legs but usually I would do as many as I can. I’m still working on full press ups…but I will do 10 one day soon. 😏
I have my trusty throw under my knees for support and I’m using grip handles. If you can afford to spend out a little there a lots of small items that can be useful. For me, my wrists are very weak and hurt when my hands are flat on the floor, the handles takes the pressure off the bend in my wrist. I found mine at Lidl, for £3.99!
With your back straight, bend your arms and imagine you’re going to gently touch your nose on the floor as you lower, but stop before you do! Then push through your back, chest and arms back up. As many as you can.
Bending or raising your arms is pretty much the core of most arm exercises. If you can afford some free weights, great but if not water bottles are great. I’ve also used a chair to complete some tricep bends by gripping the chair behind me and lowering myself down and back up.
I’m again working my triceps by bending over, holding the bottle with my arm bent to begin and then pushing my arm straight out behind me. You should feel a stretch to the back of your upper arm. Another trick for bingo wings is to hold the bottle above your head and keeping your elbows in to your sides, lower your arms backward as shown.
In the other two pictures, I’m holding the bottle from beneath (in the middle) and then curling my arm and squeezing my bicep. I haven’t included pictures but you can also do shoulder raises by holding the bottle on one shoulder and then pushing it up toward the ceiling. Don’t forget to swap arms. Keep a slight bend if you have sore elbows or they over extend like mine.