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Insult To Injury: Exercising When You Are Injured

July 14, 2010

I suppose there is no such thing as a Normal Routine.  Nobody who knows me would call me “normal” and yet…I consider myself and my daily activities completely so.  And though I think I worship the notion of “routine” as much as the next American, I am continually jarred by any augmentation to my concept of “schedule.”

So, with that in mind, I think I have tennis elbow.  I’m pretty sure of this, after talking with some folks who have suffered from this themselves, though I don’t see a doctor for a week to confirm it.  Basically, my right arm is out of the picture and I’m trying to do everything, from loading the dishwasher to walking the dog, with my left.  As a right-hander, I’m pretty awkward in this effort, to be honest.  Also, it hurts to type, so I’ll make this brief.

As someone who struggles to keep fitness central to her daily life, this, to put it in technical terms, sucks.   It’s hard enough washing exercise outfits and freshening my gym bag with clean socks and new magazines and syncing my iPod with fancy new playlists and rearranging my entire family’s life and needs so that I can motor to the YMCA five times a week.  But to have an obstacle that is actually real, painful and not just requiring an attitude adjustment?  This is new for me.  And difficult.

What do you do when you get an injury that disrupts your workout goals?  Right now I can run and walk, no problem, but doing certain ABSolution! movements are difficult and lifting weights feels wrong (do you just work one side?  that feels completely weird.)

And additionally, for those of you who have dealt with tennis elbow, what have you done to alleviate symptoms of or heal this injury? How can one prevent it?

Any advice would be appreciated!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2010 6:08 pm

    Let me try to answer a few of your questions.
    1. What do you do when an injury disrupts your workout goals?
    Short answer: the best you can without aggravating the injury.
    Long answer: Based on the assumption that you do have tennis elbow- avoid any gripping type exercises for now- this includes the eliptical machines with arm movement. No dumbbells. Generally, nothing that increases the pain in your elbow. Continue lower extremity exercises, cardio without arms, and core exercises that do not increase pain.

    2. Do you just work one side (of the body)? No. Best to wait until you are on the mend and continue to train both sides equally.

    3. I have/had tennis elbow as well; however, mine is not quite as flared up as yours sounds. Here are a couple things for you to start.
    a. Ice
    b. Stretch: Use left hand to flex your right wrist (palm down) with your elbow straight. Try to make it a gentle stretch, not painful. If possible, add more flexion by individually pushing on your index or middle finger while still flexing your wrist, elbow straight.
    c. Advil. I am not a MD, but I have had MD’s prescribe 3 ibuprofen, 3x/day for a week or two to decrease the inflammation. This would be a good question to ask your MD.
    d. Schedule an appointment with a PT. PT’s have other modalities such as iontophoresis, that can reduce swelling. Cold lasers or ultrasound can help speed up healing. They can also teach you some additional exercises (eventually strengthening exercises will be added, but not until they can be performed with minimal to no pain). Manual therapy is another technique that a PT will use to increase blood flow and make sure the joints in your wrist and elbow are moving the way they should.
    e. Purchase a “Tennis Elbow Strap” at a drug store or Target or sporting goods store. This strap helps to alleviate pain by decreasing the strain on the inflamed tendons. It should fit snug, but not cut off circulation. It wouldn’t be a bad idea for you to wear this when you know you will be doing things that bother your arm- typing, dishes, etc.

    4. How can I prevent tennis elbow?
    Continue to stretch, even once the pain has decreased.
    Continue to strengthen- there are some eccentric exercises that a PT or I can talk to you about later.
    Take breaks when you are at the computer- stretch.
    Maybe try a different style keyboard or mouse?

    Hope that helps!! Feel better!!

  2. carrie-lynn permalink
    July 15, 2010 8:15 pm

    Thanks, Swen! I purchased the arm band thingie and it seems to help a bit. I will also try ibuprofen and icing. I did some stretching in the pool last night that seemed to help, too.


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