How to avoid Overuse Injuries and My Recovery Week Experience

What is overtraining, you may ask…. Are you overtrainined? Overtraining is a physical problem wherein the body does not have adequate stores for full recovery. It can show itself as new pains in the joints that you’ve been really working, fatigue, lack of motivation, unexplained weight gain, insomnia, headaches and many other symptoms. For more on particulars, ask me in person. I can give more details.

The remainder of this blog was written in the past, but is still useful to know. I have also added a few extra recovery techniques in the concluding paragraphs.

Now here’s a subject on which I am well-versed. Not just because I’ve studied it objectively, but because I’ve experienced it several times. I wish that as a health and wellness professional I could practice what I preach, but given my personality that is just not the case! I have a strong and hard-working personality. My husband laughingly says that I do everything with gusto. Which translates to: I work out hard until I hurt myself. So over the years I’ve managed to give myself tendonitis in my feet and elbows (this was aided by external factors – poor flooring and pregnancy). I have also walked until my knees fought back, and just recently found that I was getting “rug burn” on the bottom of my feet from my yoga mat.

This week, I forced myself to take a break. I had not taken a recovery week in at least two months. So it was time. Please note: ‘recovery weeks’ are not weeks wherein you eat whatever you want and lay around! No, they are purposeful rejuvenation. I once heard Debbie Siebers of Slim in 6 call it an “Active Recovery Week.” She suggested taking them every six weeks. Very good advice which I am being forced now to take. Here’s a little record that I took of my week:

Beginning condition: physically exhausted, limping around in tennis shoes due to rug burns and swollen toes.

Day 1 Very mild housework, I even had the kids help me around the house. Got out my yoga mat and put on a non-yoga video that I could relax to as I only stretched and moved the body parts that were stiff. Result: I was relaxed and smiling when husband arrived home.

Day 2 A little harder to not be active. I had energy and I was starting to feel the lapse of housecleaning. Today was harder to get through. Result: I just hope that I can get through a week without going stir-crazy! On the upside, my feet are feeling better.

Day 3 Today was better than yesterday. I started doing some yoga on the floor, no standing postures yet though. Instead I focused on core and upper body. It felt so good to move the body!!

Day 4 Feeling good. Exercised on the floor again which feels great. Even managed to do a few standing warriors. Overall, my energy is definitely returning and I don’t feel as though I have gained any weight from my forces rest.

Day 5 Today, I finally get to get back into the swing of things. I teach a yoga class tonight and have my usual household jobs to do as well. I still have to go mildly through my activities, but I can gradually start getting back to my normal levels of activity.

Day 6 Yoga class went well. I had no pains in my feet. So the rest has served them well. I was also very energized all day.

Day 7 The last day of recovery. I felt a little tired but that was probably due to not enough food intake. I was focused on kids and potty training and didn’t eat when I should have.

Wow, a whole week of low-key exercise and simple eating and now I do feel ready to get back to exercising the body. It’s very fortunate as I’m about to embark on a new exercise program that contains more cardio and calorie restrictions than I would normally do. But on the upside, I’m going to look great for July 4th!!

In conclusion, did I enjoy my week? Yes and no. I enjoyed having more time for family and household chores. But I didn’t like having nervous energy that I couldn’t exercise out. I also didn’t like that my muscles began to feel loose by the end of the week. Recovery weeks are important because they ensure that your body has time to heal and replenish its nutritional stores. Just as vacations from work are important for our minds, so is rest important for our body. If you are injury prone as I am, forcing yourself to take a break and change up your exercise regimen can be very useful in not overusing any particular muscles and joints. The suggestion from Dr. Stacey Sims, author of Roar (a guide for female athletes), is that we change up our routines every three to 4 weeks. That doesn’t mean that we totally ditch our workouts, rather that we simply change them up. Now, if you’re in my yoga classes, I’m already doing that for you. However, if you also exercise at home, you may benefit from changing the strength or cardio routines. Feel free to ask me if you have any questions about how to do that. Also, be sure to eat well and if you’ve been going at the workouts hardcore, you’ll probably need to supplement as well. Lastly, you may need to begin incorporating recovery exercises and tools such as fascial release or Infrared light therapy. Making these simple things habitual will keep you from hurting yourself. Trust me, it’s more fun to take a break because you want to than because you have to!!

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