Daily Archives: 05/08/2013

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By Phil White, Words Guy.


Injuries stink. It’s bad enough when we see our favorite athletes go down during debilitating holy-crap-I-wish-I-didn’t-just-see-that moments (for me Derrick Rose in game 1 of last year’s Chicago Bulls round 1 playoffs game, Russell Westbrook down and out in this year’s playoffs). But when it happens to we recreational athletes, it’s suddenly real. Though we’re not hoping to lead our team to a pro sports championship, qualify for the Olympics or secure a seven-figure shoe deal, being unable to run in that 5K, play in the last softball league game of the year or complete a set a new personal best in a Crossfit WOD can be equally galling.

About three weeks days ago I was playing basketball, having come out of retirement (Michael Jordan comeback, it isn’t! Not even the Wizards one.) recently after three years out due to family, work and life pulling me away. All was going well until the ball got knocked loose from an opponent’s hands and I went for the steal. Ball traveling at speed + outstretched hand = jammed fingers.

So much for my paddleboarding plans. Ditto pullups, dips, death-by-rowing-machine intervals.

Even opening a jar of almond butter might be a stretch (pardon the pun). Nice purple bruise that made my left hand look like someone had been throwing blueberries at it. Which would be weird.

I moped around for a few hours, cursing my bad luck.  But then I realized that while not having full use of a hand is annoying and would keep me off the water, I was hardly incapacitated.

So I did something I haven’t done in years. I ran.

My old knees are not friends with hard pavement, so I stuck to grass and, to mix things up a little, went up and down verges, around trees, in and out of lamp posts. Then I did my best old slow guy’s impersonation of Usain Bolt for the final 200 meters. Yes, drivers passing by probably thought I was nuts. So did my legs. But my cardiovascular system will be thanking me when I get back on the board, in the gym and on the court. I also did a lot of power-building plyometrics (think box jumps, split jumps, every kinda jumps), high rep sets of step ups, single leg squats and lunges – thanks for the idea, Mr. Dave Kalama – and a ton of core work. Even some yoga strength poses like Warrior III.

So if you’re injured, quit complaining about what you can’t do and focus on what you CAN DO. Use the opportunity to challenge your body in new ways, and get creative. You’ll help lift your mental state out of “miserable”, get better at some exercises you’ve probably avoided for too long and help recovery by increasing blood flow. Good enough for D Rose, good enough for you and me.

UPDATE: Two weeks after jacking up my hand, I returned to the court for two hours of full court 4-on-4 (with old guy breaks, of course). All was well until I went up for a rebound and two guys’ arms came down on my left – same freaking side as the hand injury which had kinda healed, of course – and strained the rotator cuff. Guess me and my running shoes are about to become buddies again…