My family had a waterski boat when I was growing up and we spent most summer weekends on the lake. My mom tells us stories about how we learned to swim in the 6 person jacuzzi in our backyard and just jumped right off the boat into the water and swam.
You could say I have always known how to swim, but never learned technique. Despite that, I have done a few sprint and super sprint triathlons. That was me you saw starting last, with her head above water the whole swim portion, rarely a front crawl mixed in.
So this January, I managed to cause a herniated disk in my back just getting dressed. Yes, really. No great story here! Broken bones, twisted ankles, muscle spasms, strained calf muscles, IT band syndrome, and delivering two babies without medication have nothing on the pain of a this herniated disk situation. WOWZA.
Those first few months, just tying my shoes was near impossible, sitting in a chair or car more than 5 minutes caused pain down my leg and made my left foot numb. My left calf muscle just stopped working causing me to limp when walking. Early every Saturday morning I head out to mark trails for my Keep Moving Mama run/walk team with chalk on the sidewalk. Bending down to write the turn around points brought me to tears on more than one occasion. Pain such as this I have not known before.
A few weeks after the injury, I was referred to physical therapy. Does everyone LOVE physical therapy? They are magicians that figure out what is wrong and retrain your body to move correctly. With weekly treatments and exercises at home, my pain has subsided over the last 3 months. It’s not gone but it’s improving.
On my list of exercises was swimming. With my undeniable addiction to exercise I was losing my mind without running. So into the water I went. At first, just holding a kick board under my chest and kicking for 10 minutes was the limit. Then I built up to swimming on my back that long without the kick board. Then my back allowed me to try a few strokes.
Co-owner of Sunshine Swim Center, Kim Amali, teaches swim clinics for my triathlon teams. Typically, I am with the runners and make it to the pool at the end of the swim clinic. Knowing swimming was my new go to for cardio exercise, I rearranged things to get in the pool with my clients. This was completely eye-opening. Wow, you scoop with your hands? You keep your arms next to you not across your body? That’s how you put on a swim cap?
With this new found knowledge, I’ve started swimming laps. Like a real lap, back and forth and using arms and everything. Turns out, you can really get your heart rate up swimming laps. After not running and doing low impact cardio work, I can tell I’ve lost some of my stamina. But with swimming now in my routine I can see the light.
Truth be told it’s not my favorite exercise ever. It’s like a treadmill without any music or people watching. Capitol B-oring. Running outdoors is and group exercise are more my style. My friend Heather Anders recommended this great waterproof iPod and headphone set that makes a huge difference. With music, I can find my groove. Now when I’m swimming, getting winded and working hard, I’m thinking “I’m awesome, I’m an athlete, I can do this!” I love that feeling more than anything. Exercise is my addiction to the T.
It does not matter what your injury is, there is something you CAN do. Keeping your body working, learning a new skill, challenging yourself to go out of your box will get you through the challenge. Others have faced far greater challenges than this herniated disk, but it’s the challenge I currently face and am taking head on. Hope you do the same with your own challenges.
Keep Moving mama!
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