Not to be confused with The Hunger Games, which is very, very different.
I’ve made great strides in my healing, so I thought I would share some of my favorite exercises, quotes, and other such fun that has helped me along these past 12 weeks. First lets start with the wisdom my physical therapists have bestowed upon me in the form of simple strength training.
Stomach vacuums: This is perhaps the best exercise I have ever been taught. I absolutely abhor doing crunches. I always felt they were a lot of work for a little gain. The vacuum, however, has replaced crunches for me completely. Not only are they simple, they are highly effective. All one has to do is lie on his or her back and draw the belly button inward and upward towards the diaphragm. Hold for five seconds, release, and repeat 19 more times. Do this once a day and in about 4-6 weeks you will have abs of steel. NOTE: if you’re holding your breath while doing these, you’re not doing them correctly. You should still be able to breathe freely while completing the exercise. I like to do mine in the morning before I get out of bed.
Knee raises while lying on stomach: I’m sure there is a much better name for these, but I have no idea what it is. This activity will help tighten and strengthen your butt and hammies. I can say that my skepticism ran high when Stephen had me start these. It’s such a simple, small motion, but it has a great impact. Lie on your stomach with your arms tucked underneath your chin for support and your legs stretched out behind you. Bend your legs at the knee to form right angles. Tighten your glutes and very slowly raise your right knee off of the ground. By no means should the knee rise off of the floor too much; it may be only an inch or two. The key is the motion. The more slowly you move, the more effective the exercise. Hold the knee up for a couple of seconds, slowly lower it, and repeat 9 times for a total of 10. Switch to your other leg when you’re done.
Clamshells: These will work your hip flexor like you wouldn’t believe! Lie on your side with your knees bent and stacked on top of each other. Pull your knees in towards your stomach a bit, but not so much that you’re in the fetal position. Keep your back straight; do not pitch forward or backward. Use your arms to help stabilize you. Slowly (again, the rate at which you move determines the effectiveness of the exercise) raise your right knee about 6 inches off of the left knee. Hold for 5 second then slowly lower back to the starting position. Do this exercise 20 times for each leg. You will feel this one the next morning.
In other healing news, I have reached the point in my recovery (due in part to the exercises above) where I am permitted to use the elliptical for 10 minutes at a time a couple of days a week and – the biggest milestone to date – I can go for walks! I need to keep it to a relatively snail-like pace, and I also must make sure I’m only walking on flat, even ground; however, seeing as though I live in Ohio that shouldn’t be issue. I tested out my newly corrected hip on some gravel trails at a nature preserve near my house – Sandy Ride Reservation. It was cold and windy, but I was so happy to be able to go traispin’ about one of my favorite spots. I walked for two miles, and though it took me about and hour and half to complete the out-and-back path, I loved every second of it. I was reminded of a Henry David Thoreau quote: “Methinks that the moment my legs began to move, my thoughts began to flow…Only while we are in action is the circulation perfect.” This is so true! Also, I really need to incorporate the word “methinks” into my everyday vernacular.
The last bit of motivational healing fun came in the form of a hilarious article in the April issue of Triathlete magazine. If you compete in triathlete, running, or cycling, you will greatly appreciate (and laugh out loud to) the words of Jesse Thomas in his piece titled “Your 15 Milliseconds of Fame.” The article is a satirical piece about the infamous race photo. In it, Thomas breaks down the “dos and don’ts” when it comes to capturing the ever-elusive perfect race photo. One of my favorite quotes is when he is talking about nailing “the look”: “Pain is only slightly detectable deep in the eyes. It’s like you’re working hard, but it doesn’t matter because you’re beautiful.” I couldn’t help but laugh out loud to that, much to the chagrin of the kids in my study hall. Below is another witty excerpt. If you don’t have a subscription to Triathlete, you should at least buy the April issue for this article alone. Laughter truly is the best medicine!
I hope the past week treated everyone with love. I’ll be off to Grand Rapids this coming weekend for some much-needed down time. Good food, good shopping, good entertainment, and good trails: I can’t wait!