Thursday, October 15, 2009

Modify Modify Modify!

This post is about how I have modified my work out to work around my minor foot injury. PLEASE always listen to your doctor's advice before trying to modify your work out. They know best about the severity of your injuries. Don't push yourself beyond what they recommend. Do not read into this post that I am suggesting that you go against your doctors orders. I am not. I am writing about my experience these past few days of workouts.

That being said. I have a minor foot injury. About an hour after I ran the Marathon Relay my body had cooled down and I started to regain feeling in my feet again. And I was feeling quite a lot... my right foot was throbbing and every step I took on it hurt. I knew something was wrong this time so I got it looked at.

I knew it wasn't broken but they took x-rays anyway, just to be on the safe side. The x-ray technician asked me what I did so I explained the whole story, and then she asked me why the hell I played another soccer game after I hurt myself the first time.

I said I thought it wasn't so bad, I wrapped it up and played. I think the real kicker was when I told her oh and I ran 7.3 miles on it too.

She rolled her eyes at me and called me a "typical athlete".

I smiled and took that as a compliment. Wow, this person thought I was an athlete? I had in the past considered myself an overweight band dork and artist, yes... but never an athlete. I kind of like the sound of it.

Team Six Pack: formerly overweight band dork, artist, blogger, Austen addict,  and ATHLETE!!

perhaps I'll put it on my card...

The doctor told me I likely pulled a few ligaments that started with the minor pain I experienced after that first soccer game, but I made worse by continuing to play and running on it. He explained to me about how all the ligaments in the foot are connected and based on the way i described my pain moving around he told me the initial injury in one location triggered the others to go all wonky (that's my technical term). I got to look at the bones in my feet which was pretty cool. Everything looked good an' solid. However I was warned "NO, exercise from the waist down for a week."

Ok, no exercise from the waist down for a week... hrm? So I took that one of two ways:

Option 1: switch to only core and upper body work


Option 2: become best friends with my couch and remote control

Clearly, Option 2 just wasn't going to happen. So I've been spending the past few days at boot camp getting a little more creative with my work outs. I can't do the suicides even though now at day 4 my foot is feeling ok, I don't want to tempt fate again and risk lapsing back to the pain I felt after I ran the relay. With out being able to do all the sprints, jump squats and jumping jacks etc that we normally do my heart rate has not been as high as previous sessions.

However I'm using this opportunity (and I'm looking at it as an opportunity not a set back) to refocus on parts of my body that are pretty weak. My legs are strong, I know this. My core and upper body though falls behind in the strength department. (Upper body is weak also partial due to an old shoulder injury...however massage has pretty much healed that up completely). I'm also taking this time to get really strict on my diet again...but that's a whole different story.

So here's some of the exercises I've been able to do to focus on my core and upper body and keep pressure off of my foot:

(please note all of these can be done at home and don't require any equipment! I know... awesome, right?!)

Modified Pushups:

Starting Position

Ending Position

Action :EXHALE: Bend your elbows and lower chest to 90 degrees at the elbows. INHALE: Push up so that your arms are straight, making sure your elbows aren’t completely locked. Try doing 2 sets of 10-12 repetitions.
Special Instructions: If you can’t go to 90 degrees at the elbow, just go to a comfortable position until you can work up to 90 degrees.

Planks (with one leg in my case):

I lift my right foot off the ground and rest it on top of my left by doing this it really hits my left obliques!

This is how a plank should look.
Notice the body alignment is in a straight line.

If you have a bad shoulder try a modified version of a plank like this:
You can also modify a plank further by resting on your knees however you won't get the full benefit of this core exercise. Make sure your shoulders are aligned properly over the elbows in a straight line!

Bicycle Crunches:

Action: Move your legs in a bicycle motion. When your left knee is closer to your body, reach your right elbow to it. When your right knee is closer to your body, reach your left elbow to it. Try performing the exercise for 60 seconds in 2 sets.

Lying Straight Leg Raises:

Action: Keeping legs straight and together, back flat, lift legs upward until they are straight above hips. Lower down to starting position slowly and with control (but do not allow feet to touch the ground between reps) to complete one rep.

Special Instructions: Make sure back stays flat on floor and abs are tight (pull navel in towards spine).
Back Extensions:

Action: EXHALE: Lift the upper body (chest, shoulders) off of the ground, "crunching" towards the hips. Hold for 1-2 counts at highest position.

INHALE: Slowly lower with control to start to complete one rep.

Special Instructions: This is a very small movement-- don't move further than you can naturally and easily. Keep legs squeezed together, hips on floor. There should be no movement from your hips to your toes.
Balancing Seated Twist:

This can be done with out a medicine ball as well

Action: EXHALE: Keeping a perfectly straight back with your abs pulled in tight, rotate your torso to the right as far as you can while maintaining good form (back straight, maintaining balance). INHALE. Return to the center (start position). Repeat on the opposite side to complete one rep.

Special Instructions: Do not round or arch your back. Focus on the movement coming from the waist, allowing your upper body and arms to follow the twisting motion of the waist.
Make it harder: Use a heavier weight and/or extend your arms straight out in front of you.
Make it easier: Perform this exercise without holding any weight.

This is similar to back extensions however you lift your arms and feet off the ground as if you were super man soaring through the air. This is a good exercise to strengthen your back...

Action: Keeping limbs straight (but not locked) and torso stationary, simultaneously lift your arms and legs up toward the ceiling to form a gentle curve with your body. Hold for a slow 30 counts.

Special Instructions: Don't hold your breath! Try to keep breathing steady and even. Make it easier: Hold for fewer counts and don't raise legs/arms quite as high. Change it up: Lower to the ground to complete one rep and do a 2-3 sets.

Tricep Dips:
Wanna tone up that under arm flab? To tone your triceps all you need is a me you'll feel this one!

Sit tall on the edge of a sturdy chair or step and wrap your fingertips over the front edge. Place feet on the floor in front of you with knees bent. Lift hips and butt up and slightly forward.
Action: Bend elbows about 90 degrees and lower hips toward the floor. (If you feel pain in the shoulders, your elbows are bent too much). Press up until elbows are straight, but not locked.

Reverse Crunch:

Action: EXHALE: Pull knees in toward chest and hold for 2 seconds.
INHALE: Slowly lower legs back to starting position.

Special Instructions: Don't use your momentum to swing your legs up. Try to keep the motion controlled by your abs.

This is just a sampling of exercises I have done this week. My routine has also included several variations of push ups, and crunches. I have even been doing pull ups on a parallel bar (boot camp is held at a gymnastics facility). I can't do a full pull up but on the parallel bar I can keep my feet on the ground to modify the exercise and I still get a killer upper body strengthening exercise in.

If you want to view more strengthening exercises you can do at home head on over to to view animated gif's of each activity along with instructions.
They also have work out video's if you can't think of a routine based on individual exercises.

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