How I MAXimized My Injury Recovery
By Guest Blogger Cristen Clark
A few months ago, I hit a snag in my fitness journey due to an unexpected knee injury and was so frustrated. But when I acquired what we affectionately call "Max," the timing couldn't have been better for me.
The Bowflex Max Trainer® M5 is a gorgeous setup — very modern and sleek. Plus, it doesn't take up very much room at all, compared to the standard treadmill that is collecting dust in the other corner of my basement. My knee couldn't tolerate the constant pounding on the treadmill, regardless of what incline I'd put it on. I needed something new, and Max held a lot of promise.
After all, I needed to be able to work on the farm and catch for my daughter when she pitches during softball practice. With this injury, I was unable to squat for seven months. I had lost strength, range of motion, stability, and more. I'd had every test done, but the MRI, X-ray, etc., showed nothing. Plain and simple, I needed to rest, rehabilitate, and heal.
My first workout on "Max" was almost hilarious. I was so confident that this was going to be a step in the right direction for my wellness and it would be easy. I don't think I'm in terrible shape — after all I was regularly attending CrossFit before I randomly injured my knee at my job as a farmer. I just figured this back to the future style machine would test my endurance a bit and get a good sweat going.
Boy, was I wrong with that assumption!
I'm embarrassed to say that I worked out on this machine for only five minutes my first night out of the gate and was sore in places I'd never been — yet my knee did not hurt after activity for the first time in seven months. I could feel the muscles in my quadriceps that I was so eagerly trying to strengthen during my PT appointments, firing and working hard. It was a good feeling to finally walk away from a workout (Okay, yes, I'm going to call this 5-minute thing a workout), and not be sore and having my knees crack and pop. The next morning would tell whether or not "Max" was really going to be the key to my recovery. I was so hopeful.
It should have been no surprise to me, yet I was thrilled: I had no pain in my knee. None. I didn't have any swelling either, which was very surprising.
Slowly, I worked my way up to a 20-minute workout and have improved my quadriceps strength astronomically. Each day, I'd increase my workout by 1-2 minutes, and I think that was a large contributor to my success. The best part: I never felt like I was missing out. As a farmer, I need to be physically strong for my job. "Max" is helping me become stronger physically and have more endurance as well. Getting in a morning workout that isn't a huge time commitment has been key in keeping me with it and continuing on the path to recovery with my knee.
Beyond being visually pleasing, this machine is quiet, which is a bonus when I need to get an early morning or late night workout in with my kids sleeping nearby. I enjoy my friends at CrossFit and recently was able to re-join with a healthy knee. I can go to work without pain and most of all … be the catcher that my daughter needs me to be. Here are my five tips for recovering from an injury:
- Once you are cleared for activity, take inventory. Make sure you are ready to take on additional fitness activity in addition to your regular day-to-day activities.
- Start small. Five minutes on "Max" is still a great workout.
- Add slowly. When rehabilitating, add a minute or two at a time to your workout to slowly work back into the strength you want to achieve again. Also, try running the machine in both the forward direction and backwards. In my early workouts, I felt that running backwards was more comfortable on my knee.
- Rate your pain tolerance each time you exercise and as you are adding time. Adjust resistance to your comfort level and use the double grip on the Max Trainer to find the most comfortable body position as you rebuild.
- Treat your injury accordingly through the healing and rebuilding process. If you need other types of therapy while you gain strength, by all means, get it!
About Cristen Clark
Cristen Clark is the face behind Food and Swine, a blog that covers all things family, food, and life in Iowa.