Push Yourself to Injury, Plop Yourself on the Couch

For most Americans, the issue with fitness is finding the motivation to get off the couch; at CC, students seem to have a harder time sitting down. After enough time, this can spell trouble for overly active people who choose to ignore their body when it’s telling them to slow down—like I did.

Contrary to my previous beliefs, there is such a thing as being too active. For the past month, I’ve been sentenced to wear a boot on my shin to prevent a stress fracture in my tibia. This experience has allotted me more than enough time to think about how long I spent ignoring my body and how many other students on campus seem to have done the same. It’s difficult not to notice all of the other students in boots when you’re in one too.

Photo by Anna Grigsby

I ran at least six miles daily this summer. When my leg started to hurt, I brushed it off as a shin splint and something I could “push through.” This pain never went away, even when I wasn’t running, but I decided to keep going anyway. Eventually, my mom forced me to see an orthopedic specialist, who told me I was lucky that my tibia hadn’t fractured yet, but that if I kept up my activity, it surely would soon.

As much as I could pity myself, I have discovered that I am not alone in making this overactive mistake. First-year Maddie Strasser has had not one, but two stress fractures in her running career. While in high school, she was in the heat of her cross country season and training for her Nordic ski season when she noticed a sharp pain in her calf. After pushing through the pain for about a week and a half, she decided to see a doctor and discovered that her tibia had fractured.

“The hardest part about being in a boot was not being able to do what I loved and having to watch all of my friends experience that ‘bonding through your suffering’ that so many athletes go through, without me there,” said Strasser. While it is rather upsetting having to supplement your workout regime with less-than-ideal workouts, or perhaps not even working out at all, there can be a silver lining to recovery.

“I had to start biking instead of running while recovering from my stress fractures. At first I hated it, but then I picked up mountain biking and I absolutely love it. I’m on the mountain biking team now, and I think it’s much more fun than running,” said Strasser.

While Strasser’s injury ironically led her to engage in a new athletic activity, there are other silver linings to injury. A recovery period is an excellent time to catch up on school, sleep, or just relax. You can take time to think, thus improving your mental and emotional health while your physical self recuperates. For instance, after an embarrassingly long amount of time during my recovery, I came to this realization: if you don’t take the time now to relax and listen to your body, you’ll only be injured more seriously later. A month away from your sport or working out can easily multiply if you don’t take proper care of yourself.

Strasser agreed: “Take your time recovering and don’t rush right back into things when your doctor clears you. It’s better to prevent further injury by taking your time instead of jumping right back into things.”

For anyone recovering from a recent injury like a stress fracture, check out the “Couch to 5K regime.” Although this program is recommended for people who have never ran long distances before, it is a great way to re-find your groove and know exactly where you are in your healing process. Prevention, however, is always preferable to steady recovery. Set reasonable limits to your exercise regimes and have others (including yourself) hold you accountable. While it is important to maintain a base activity level, that extra mile is not always going to help you go the distance.

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