Tag Archives: fitness

Being Active With An Injury

In July of 2016, I started having back pain after work. After going to the clinic, I was diagnosed with a pulled muscle and sent to physiotherapy for 6 weeks. Although physiotherapy took away some of my symptoms, it was more of a surface cure, as I didn’t realize the extent of my injury.

Three months after having a “pulled muscle,” the pain increased. I stopped working out, stopped stretching, and lost a lot of my stamina. I knew something was wrong but didn’t know what. I was active all of high school with dance, and never really got seriously injured.

4 months after my initial injury I got sent for an x-ray. They found that when I got injured something happened with my discs in my spine. Long story short, after a CT scan it was determined that I have a herniated disc and 4 bulging discs in my lower back. Essentially this means that the gel in between my vertebrae is constantly under pressure. When the gel leaks or bursts the disc becomes herniated, and it can cause nerve damage.

The only thing that can be done to reinflate my discs was surgery or spinal decompression. Surgery was out of the question due to my age and the complications that can result. So, I tried spinal decompression 3 times a week where my back was stretched out on a table by a machine. Unfortunately, I had little results. For 6 months I went through constant physio and chiro to try to make me more comfortable; again I had little success.

In May of 2017, 10 months after I was injured, I finally started laser therapy. I had never been recommended it but decided it couldn’t hurt. It’s administered by a chiropractor and is painless. Miraculously, it worked and reduced my pain significantly. Although my discs are still bulging, I am so much more comfortable.

That being said, when I was diagnosed I was told I’d never be able to hike, carry anything heavy, or basically do anything where I would be straining my back. At only 18 it was devastating to know I would be restricted for the rest of my life. Despite this news, after my laser therapy, I really wanted to go back to the gym. I think in this day and age it was especially hard because social media is filled with fit girls and fitness accounts. It was really hard to compare myself to my friends and know that I would never be able to work out the way they do and see the same results.

Yet, at 18 there was no way I would just let my young body go to waste, so I started researching. I found there was little out there regarding ways to modify workouts for an injury. However, after some of my own trial and error and lengthy research, I found somethings that work for me that I’d like to share. These are simple ways that I got my body active again, and ways I try to incorporate a normal fitness routine. I think its important to talk about people with injuries because I feel like we are a population who are always forgotten in the fitness world.

1. Stretch: Stretching just loosens everything up, and allows for more mobility. When your muscles are loose, you strain yourself less. I always start any workout with a full body stretch, and then specifically target my back with a cool down stretch at the end. I also try to workout at home even if I’m not working out, just to strength my back and get my muscles moving a bit.

2. Walk: Before I could start heading to the gym, I walked. It was a good way to get me up and moving to get some stamina back. Although walking can be high-impact, taking it slowly reduces the risks. I did not walk far but made sure I got out a few times a day to keep the blood flowing.

3. Voltaren: Voltaren I think is what has really allowed me to be active again. It is an anti-inflammatory gel that really helps to relax muscles and eliminate any soreness or tightness. I’ve forgotten to put it on a few times before any physical activity, and I really noticed the difference. It lets me stretch more, and I feel less strain after the gym. It is also super great for at home when I am in more pain than normal. It soothes pain almost instantly.

4. LowImpact Cardio: Pre-injury my main exercises at the gym were all cardio, as it was what my body was the most accustomed to, and showed the most results. However, running and stairs can put a lot of pressure on your body from the weight of your body. Instead, I try to focus on biking and the elliptical. Yes, biking is boring, but for back injuries, it is great because it targets the right areas while allowing your upper body and back to relax. The elliptical is a little more advanced as your whole body is engaged, but as your feet stay planted it doesn’t put as much strain on your body.

5. Resistance Bands: The worst part about my injury has been seeing fitness girls on Instagram showing off all their weight exercises. Good for them, heartbreaking for me. Instead, to modify workouts I have fell in love with resistance bands. They can be ordered in packs with multiple levels of resistance, so you can customize it your particular needs. It makes my workouts more challenging but again is less traumatic than weights on my body.

I think the biggest thing to remember with an injury is just to listen to your body. It is so easy to compare yourself to others, but self-growth is the most important.

If anyone has any further suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Cheers,

Dani

If You Get The Chance, Dance

When I was 8 I took one hip-hop class, hated it, and dropped out. I never considered dance after that, until I was 12 and started going to a music studio where my brother took guitar lessons. The studio also taught dance, I found myself captivated by the jazz class that rehearsed at the same time. I decided that perhaps I’d tried the wrong style of dance and I should give it another try. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I made going into my teenage years.

I started out at the same studio, White Rock School of Music and Dance. I was definitely insecure at first, as I was already 12 and a little late to the game. However, I fell in love with dancing, and was much more comfortable in a jazz class. Although I was in recreational dance, it was separated by levels and I quickly advanced to the senior class. I stayed there for 4 years and branched out to lyrical dance as well. By grade 11, my 5th year of dance, I was ready to move on as our senior class had fallen apart after many of my teammates graduated. I moved to Essence, where I finished out my last 2 years of dance before I graduated myself. Here, I also started contemporary dance.

Grade 11 is also when I started dancing at school. I can’t say why I didn’t join earlier, but perhaps I figured I should be more academic as I already danced outside of school. However, I am really grateful that I joined, as Sullidance opened me up to even more experiences. Not only was I able to improve in my preferred genres of dance, but it opened me up to even more styles, including hip-hop. It turned out that at 16 I still disliked it as much as I did at 8, but it was definitely good to diversify myself and try something new.

My dance communities at both school and the studio were amazing. I was surrounded by positive and encouraging teammates, regardless of the class or style. I was always worried about embarrassing myself, and it definitely did happen, yet everyone laughed with me rather than at me.

I found dance rewarding as I got to see the full process from the chaos of the first day of choreography to placing at competition. I love looking back at old videos where I can see the first few rough pieces and then the finished product on stage. My outbreak video above was a finished product that placed first, while the clip below is a different piece where this was a messier first on-stage run through. These are both from my school dance group, choreographed by Kate Law. Unfortunately I can’t share any videos from my studio due to copyright reasons.

Although it’s been nearly 2 year since I’ve performed or competed, I’m still aware of the personal growth my time in dance allowed for. Even more so, I’m now realizing how good dance was at keeping me in shape.

My experience with working out at the gym is very beginner, because throughout high school I never had to. I danced 5 days a week my last year of high school, sometimes twice a day, when I had dance at school and then the studio. It was a great full body workout, yet I was less aware of it at the time.

Dance is not only really good for cardio, but from lifts to handstands and a little acro in Contemporary, it definitely requires strength. I did lots of conditioning, especially through ab workouts. At my studio, we also had specific dreadful days specifically devoted to conditioning various parts of our bodies. Evidently, dance is also super important for flexibility. My muscles never got super tight, and I think this genuinely helped my posture and my body feel more relaxed.

In my opinion, dance is one of the most fun and rewarding ways to stay in shape. I made so many friends and found a really supportive community. If you have ever questioned whether to join a dance team, I strongly recommend it. Even if it doesn’t go well, or you hate it like 8 year old Dani, at least you’ll never wonder “what if”. My biggest regret is not trying dance earlier, and joining my school team as late as I did. Whether you are looking for new friends, a fun way to workout, or are just genuinely curious about dance, it is definitely worth looking into.

I hope this inspires you to think of new ways to stay fit beyond the gym, even if dance isn’t your forte.

Cheers!

Dani

There is No Easy Pill to Substitute Hard Work

No tricks, gimmicks, special pills, special potions, special equipment. All it takes is desire and will.” — Richard Simmons

 

*Please excuse the worst Photoshop skills to ever be presented online. Hopefully the message is still clear.*