It’s been a month now since my training came to a complete halt when I was in a car accident that messed up my back. I’ve definitely made progress and I’ve been feeling pretty good…for the most part. For a couple weeks, I didn’t know what to expect from day to day. Sometimes my back was sore in the morning and at night but okay the rest of the day. Other times I felt fine first thing and got sore as the day went on. I’ve had several stretches of time where I thought I felt good enough to consider exercising again, then a new pain popped up to defeat my hopes. The last month has been extremely frustrating. This is much different from the kinds of injuries I’ve dealt with in the past, and my back is not something I want to mess around with.
Pretty much all activity has been on hold. For nearly a month, there has been no running, biking, swimming, or weights. I’ve been able to go for a few walks without pain, but that’s been about it. I keep attempting little things to see how it feels. I’ve found that although I CAN do certain things, I shouldn’t and end up paying for it later. Hanging from the pull-up bar and doing just one pull-up led to pain and soreness for the next two days. I’ve tried a few free weight curls, push-ups, planks, etc. and everything has resulted in back pain the next day. It’s frustrating because it seems like these things should be no big deal. I have to accept that my body still isn’t ready and I really need to be patient. When I’ve taken a break from running in the past, at least I could swim, bike, and lift weights. I’ve come to realize that pretty much everything uses the back in one way or another. After a month off, one of the things that kills me the most is knowing that I’ll be starting from scratch with all forms of training.
As I try to reintroduce activity, it seems like walking has been the safest way to start. I’ve walked as far as four miles without any issues. I got brave enough to try three miles on the elliptical last week and was frustrated by the results. I felt my back in my two main trouble spots, then my lovely IT band problem flared up and irritated my left knee after a couple miles. I’d been making really good progress with that injury prior to the accident, but I haven’t been able to do my hip/glute rehab exercises since the accident. Most of the exercises extend my back in a way that I need to avoid for now. As a result, I think my IT band has regressed. I suspect any attempts at running could be ugly until I can get back on track with the rehab exercises.
I’ve hesitated to try biking because my back gets sore pretty quickly when I sit without back support. I figured I’d give it a shot this past Saturday and I’d quit if I got uncomfortable. I kept the resistance low and successfully rode for half an hour. Finally – something I can do! I’m still feeling some discomfort in my back every day and have to be careful about certain movements, but I’m hoping things are starting to look more promising.
In the meantime, being so busy lately has helped keep me from trying too much. I went to my primary care doctor a week after the accident just to make sure everything seemed okay. I don’t think I gained much from that visit, but at least it helped reassure me that I should be fine. The doctor also made me realize that issues I’ve had with my left ear are due to noise from the side airbag. I’ve had occasional problems with sound getting distorted if it’s too loud. I hadn’t really thought about how loud airbags are, but it’s similar to having a gun go off right next to my ear. Luckily it’s not much of a problem and hopefully it will fade with a little more time. I’ve also been busy with chiropractic appointments. I’ve been going to one chiropractor three times per week and my active release/sports rehab chiropractor one time per week. They have different techniques and while the one chiropractor concentrates mostly on spinal adjustments, the other uses active release that gets the tissues and muscles. He also helps me figure out which exercises are safe at this point. I’m thankful to have a couple of great doctors who are helping me get back on track.
Hopefully the black cloud hanging over me goes away soon because I’m having a streak of bad luck on the road lately. Since the insurance company chose to total my car, I got a new one about a week later. Unfortunately, it seems like I’ve developed a tradition of breaking in my new car by blowing out a tire. When I got my last car, I hit a pothole and destroyed a tire after one month. This time, it only took me one week. Unbelievable. It was on the same stretch of road both times, so now I really dread driving through that area. At least I was just over a mile from home and was able to pull into a parking lot. Plus, since my first flat tire experience had happened only a year ago, it was still fresh in my mind and I was much smoother at changing it myself. It’s also a good thing I was so close to home because Matt was able to come help me. After taking my tire/wheel off the car, I realized it was heavier than I thought and it wasn’t very smart to lift it with my back problem. I’m very lucky that Matt could come help and lift my trashed tire into the trunk!
Obviously the last month has been a bit more exciting than I’d like. Hopefully things settle down and the drama is over. For now, I’m going to continue to be cautious and take things slowly as I try to get back to normal. I’m still hopeful that I’ll have time to get ready for the triathlon season this year. Recovering properly is the most important thing though, so I’m going to try to be as smart and patient as possible.
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