Recovering from a High-impact Fall: My Weekly Fitness Routine

After a recent tumble from a horse, my weekly fitness routine was tossed and nearly lost. With a broken shoulder and several fractured ribs, I was unable to ride. I couldn’t bike, run, or work out. High-energy and highly motivated, I was climbing the walls within a few days.

How have I managed a weekly fitness routine while recovering from a sports injury?

Desperation led to improvisation, as often does.

Almost overnight, I devised a modified fitness routine. Half-jokingly, I tag it my non-fitness routine, taking me from recovering to ready-to-go.

Broken bones take months to mend. Each week marks a new healing milestone. My own self-tailored fitness routine changes every seven days.

Each individual recovers from injuries at his or her own pace. My recovery fitness routine ramps up effort based on physician recommendations and my personal pain levels.

Here’s how my recovery fitness plan has worked.

Initially, climbing out of bed and getting dressed were athletically challenging. But persistence did pay off.

1. Week one: light walking

Wearing an arm sling and stepping into sneakers, I walked a block and a half in my neighborhood once a day. Rib fractures make deep breathing challenging, so this felt ambitious at first. I enlisted a walking buddy during the first outings, while I was still taking fairly heavy pain medications.

2. Week two: medium walking

As healing began in earnest, I stretched my strolls to circle a neighborhood block twice a day. By the tenth day, the sling came off, improving my balance.

3. Week three: more medium walking

The orthopedist urged more shoulder movement, admitting it might hurt. Heeding his warning that a frozen shoulder would require months of difficult physical therapy later, I began swinging my sore arm and shrugging rhythmically during my twice-daily walks.

4. Week four: more challenging walking

In sturdy athletic shoes, I went off-road, strolling at the stables and a nearby soccer field.

Because my injuries affected my body core, I was eager to work on my abdominal muscles. Bending and twisting were not yet options. Instead, I concentrated on flexing my stomach muscles in pace with my walking steps. While reclining, I did a few sets of moderate leg lifts every hour.

Eventually, I grew able to accomplish more athletic feats: sporting strap-on arm weights, leading horses by hand, walking briskly, and looking forward to swapping sneakers for riding boots again.

What is the key to personal fitness while recovering from a traumatic injury?

Based on my own experience and the physicians’ advice, I found the secret to recovery is to use the body parts that do work until the others catch up. As healing continues, more mobility and flexibility will follow.

Linda Ann Nickerson brings decades of reporting and a globally minded Midwestern perspective to a host of topics, balancing human interest with history, hard facts and often humor.

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Muscling into fitness: An exercise in rhyme

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