Four Completely Obvious Lessons I Learned in Physical Therapy

Raise your hand if you’ve been to physical therapy???

I’m probably the last person on the planet to finally go to PT, which I guess is good because it means I’ve been injury free, right? I was given four weeks of physical therapy after … get this… spraining my knee playing horse-y with my kids…. This officially wins the award as lamest injury ever. I should also say that it was an incredibly minor injury. It’s not like surgery or knee replacement, or anything that is actually hard… I don’t think I’d have recovered successfully on my own, but I’d probably have figured it out..

But I learned some things that I think are kind of important for me!

First, give yourself some credit.

I bet most women can relate to this… I struggle with body image. I’m not particularly heavy, but I’m not a model/movie star/Instagram star… whatever and whomever we compare ourselves to. And then I feel so guilty because I know other women struggle so much more than I do, and it’s just unhealthy. When I go to the doctor, I generally hear about the importance of diet and exercise and not being overweight because of how much it will affect my diabetes. I’m also an emotional eater, and I hate working out.

Or at least… I thought I hated working out.

My injury came at a time when I had stopped exercising regularly. I had plans to get started again, but I was waiting, and then BAM… injury that I couldn’t exercise through at first. Not being able to work out made me realize that I actually like feeling in control of my body. I like pushing myself just a little. Just enough that it made me antsy to be benched, even for a few weeks.

If you’re dreading your workout, imagine what it’d be like to be unable to work out! Not for any huge reason. Something small… like a knee sprain.

What would you do with whatever small section of time you dedicate to yourself?

Don’t underestimate your level of physical fitness! You are doing so much better than you think you are. If you can reach your arms above your head, touch your toes (or knees), walk from the living room to the kitchen, get in and out of bed, walk a mile or two… dude! That’s fantastic! There are people for whom those are milestones they’re working towards. If you get yourself to the gym or in front of a television a few times a month… well aren’t you an overachiever. 😉 Keep going! Don’t give up!

Second. “The thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone…”

via GIPHY

For the record, this was my first ever experience with physical therapy and my degree is in education… take this with a grain of salt.

The same principle applies to muscles.

Before going to the doctor for my injury, I was imagining muscle tears, and separations and fractures – all of these terrible things that would put me out of commission for a long time. (I’m a little over dramatic about pain and immobility…) Even the doctor told me that if there was no improvement after a couple weeks I might have torn a muscle. I cried in the car on the way to physical therapy…

After working with the ladies in the PT office, I realized that most of my injury had been caused by weird pressure on my knee, but it also came from a lack of flexibility in my calf, hamstring, and hip. We worked a lot on stretching and strengthening muscles that I thought were completely unrelated. And ta-da! My knee is almost 100% after four weeks.

If you’re having *minor* pain while you exercise, try something to help strengthen the surrounding muscles. There are a boat load of strengthening exercises on Pinterest. Jen Esquer on Instagram has some awesome ideas, as well. Check her out here.

*Please talk to your doc about persistent pain. If it is a tear or something crazy, better to know right away.

Third, there is power in persistence.

Remember how I was not working out when I was injured? I’ve never been good at regularly working out. I’d rather sit on the couch and crochet, in all honesty….

I was not doing hard workouts in physical therapy. We’re talking leg lifts, clams, and stretching with maybe a couple pounds of ankle weights toward the end. I wasn’t breaking a sweat (until my last week when they were having me do squats and lateral walks).

As insane as this sounds, I see a difference in my body because for a month, I worked out at least 3 times a week for an hour. That’s ridiculous, right? You have to sweat. You have to lift more than two pounds, you have to suffer for this, right!?

I mean… to see major progress on my goals, I will probably have to do something harder. But it’s not about the difficulty of your workout. It’s about persistence. So commit! Do SOMETHING focused on a regular schedule. Which brings me to my next point…

Fourth, women need friends – IN-PERSON friends.

I’ve been reading Rachel Hollis’ book Girl, Wash Your Face. I could write a post dedicated to this awesome book, and Rachel is my new best friend even though she has no idea who I am. She talks about being the average of the five people you spend the most time with. She’s quoting someone else, but she’s my new BFF so we’ll just talk about her. 🙂

I mostly hang out with cranky toddlers… I love them, but it’s draining sometimes. They’re very encouraging of my workouts for the first five minutes, and then they’d like to watch Daniel Tiger, please? My husband is also encouraging, but we’re a family of nerds and gamers. Exercise is not high on our priority list. Three hours a week is a lot of time to spend with someone if you’re usually a home-body. I wouldn’t go so far as to say my physical therapists became friends, but they were awesome to work with. They had accomplished goals, or were working toward goals. They knew about fitness, and affirmed my hopes for the future. They pushed me to do my best in our little workouts, and were encouraging about my efforts outside of our workouts.

I have a lot of really great, encouraging friends that I talk with a lot through text, email, and Facebook. They do all the things these women at physical therapy did, but it’s not in person. I struggle with in-person socialization. I feel awkward… but it’s so necessary!

Rachel recommends that we find friends with similar goals. I now completely understand why. Being around confident women made me more confident. Being around women who had accomplished goals and were comfortable communicating helped me commit to new goals (small though they may have been).

It’s weird that I learned this with people I don’t know…. but now that I know, I’m going to work harder to make time for my in-person friends.

 

 

Life is good, people.

I’m so excited that my knee is getting better. I’m excited to be feeling the way I’m feeling, and I hope you’ll embark on your own journey to confidence, and health. What is your plan? How are you going to make changes right now?

 

Bonus lesson!

Autumn Calabrese from the Beachbody empire should be given a lot more credit than I was giving her. All of my physical therapy moves were things I’d done in 21 Day Fix, and 80 Day Obsession. She’s actually helping strengthen our knees! And probably our backs and shoulders too. 🙂 I’m not a Beachbody coach, but if you’re interested in joining a super supportive challenge group, message me! I have THE best coach, and I’ve made so many friends through Beachbody. <3


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