Monday, May 18, 2015

Injuries and Pain: How Do You Make the Most of It?

Since starting our house renovation in December, my hands and wrists have taken a serious hit. I hadn't thought much about it because we had a lot to do and I really wanted to get it done as quickly as possible, but we are both now feeling the ramifications of our actions (and sadly, we're still not done - though I'm not sure any house is ever "done"). It doesn't help that I started out with hand issues before the work began, but I'm trying to find ways to work through it.

Even though the work has slowed dramatically over the last couple of months and we can go days without touching anything renovation-related, I still experience the same pains and numbness that I did when we were working at a more hardcore rate. When I wake up, my hands are swollen, my fingers don't open and close, I have a couple of trigger fingers that get stuck if I can get them squeezed at all, and the problems seem to be spreading up my arms rather than healing.

We both continue to say that we just need to spend a few days doing absolutely nothing with our hands, but that's no easy task. Just about everything other than sitting somewhere staring is going to require some sort of hand movement or pressure.

One can imagine that this also takes a toll on riding a bike. It's difficult to ride a bicycle and not use hands and even though I spent a great deal of my youth attempting to ride hands-free (who knew it would come in handy later in life?), it isn't entirely practical in adulthood. Though I gravitate toward bicycles that have the ability to take a good deal of pressure off of my hands, no bicycle is hand-pressure free (perhaps a recumbent, but that's a topic of discussion for another day).

It's not the first time I've had injuries to survive during the warmer months of the year, but I think it's one of the very few times I have felt so completely handicapped. I've found myself trying to complete longer distances, only to be completely cut short by my current state of pain. It's amazing to have the will to do something, body and mind that are willing to cooperate, and then be struck down by one seemingly small issue.

As I realize we are more than half way through May, I am aware of how quickly summer is approaching. A bit of panic is setting in because I have big plans for rides this year, and although I understand the current injury isn't something I can push my way through (such as with muscle exhaustion on a long ride), I am frustrated and wanting to get through this so that I can build to longer distances.
A small sneak peek at the new bicycle in the E.V.L. home
I have a new bike that had been in research phase for some time, but a decision was finally made (more to come on this soon). It arrived a few weeks ago, but it's challenging to fully test it when the extent of riding is short distances and lots of stopping in between. In order to get through any type of ride, I've had to come to an understanding that stopping every 2-4 mi/3-6km is an absolute necessity right now and as much as I want to push my way through the pain, this is one battle my obstinance is not going to win.

Rather than completely giving up, I have accepted the reality that, at least for the time being, I will take short rides and/or adventures that require many stops along the way. It's challenging to work up strength in this manner, but when given the alternative of doing no riding at all, I think it makes far more sense to simply do what I am able to do at present.

When you've had to deal with more serious or painful injuries, how have you made it through time off or on your bike? Do your modify riding until you're healed or stay away completely? I realize this is entirely dependent on the injury as some would not allow riding at all, but I wonder how others choose to get through the times that require modification.

Ultimately, I'm glad to be able to still ride, even if it isn't exactly in the manner I had hoped for this spring/summer.

11 comments:

  1. In late-March, 2014, at the end of my [then] daily ten-mile ride, I had to brake suddenly on the condo walkway when an old man appeared and, shifting my weight for balance, tensed and pressed on the pedal with my left foot. I felt a "snap" in my left buttock -- proximal (high) hamstring tendinopathy. Long story, short, it was three weeks before I got back on my bicycle -- not "safe sex", but total abstinence. It was difficult; injuring myself further was unthinkable. Good luck.

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    1. Ouch! That does not sound pleasant at all. I will take being able to ride a little over not being able to ride at all. Hopefully, you've healed up completely and there isn't any leftover pain from your run-in.

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  2. I've never had to work through an injury, but I can attest that frequent short rides can add remarkably to your on-bike stamina. My commute is about six miles each way, so I do six miles in the morning, take what amounts to an eight-hour break, and then ride six miles home. You wouldn't think this would amount to any kind of conditioning at all, but I remember last spring thinking I would go out for a short spin. I came back forty miles later and felt like I could have kept going another forty. This was after having done no rides much longer than my commute for months.

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    1. That's good to know. I've always tried to get in longer rides building up to events or goals, but maybe the shorter rides, especially if I push them, will be beneficial.

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  3. Short rides or rides with lots of stops are still effective and fun:) I am lucky not to suffer from hand or wrist pain so far, but I always was and remain a weakling compared to you. Even after more than a year of riding, I stop for a break every 5 miles or so and 20 miles in one day tires me out, even with a stop every 5 miles. I just don't seem to have much stamina. It is a real problem for me. It can be very frustrating when I read about other people doing centuries, but I try not to let it get me down. I have taken up running to try and improve stamina, and would do Pilates if I could find a class nearby that I could fit into my schedule. Other than that, I can't really do much except accept this limitation and hope that one day things will get better. Hopefully your hands will get better soon, and as you are waiting for them to heal enjoy your shorter rides and remember that for many of your readers your achievements on the bike are nothing short of amazing !!!

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    1. My hand/wrist issues aren't due to riding a bike. I suppose I should point that out as I wouldn't want anyone to think that any bicycle caused the problem. Rather, at times they are exacerbated by using a bike (such as at the present time) with assistance from my other current activities. I just wouldn't want anyone to think that riding a bike is going to necessarily create problems.

      I think increasing stamina through cross training is a fantastic idea, Stephanie. Too many times I think people who ride focus solely on riding and would perhaps benefit from other training. One of the early benefits I noticed with starting kickboxing a few years ago was that I definitely had more "push" and stamina on the bike.

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  4. I'd get to a doctor or recommended chiropractor and find out what to do. Spreading pain is not good. You could get permanent damage if not treated.

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    1. Yes. I'm actually in the works of speaking to a friend who's a physical therapist and looking into some recommendations as far as who to see. I definitely don't need or want injuries that get worse. :O)

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  5. I'm still recovering a year and a half after an auto accident [not bike related]. It was about 8-9 months before I could ride at all, then just limited to 1-2 miles on flat terrain, slowly. It'll be another 6 months before I am well enough to resume my cycling like I want to but I'll have to start building up slowly to hills and distance. You just do the time. Think of it as a prison sentence. Read more, rest more. I also take St. John's Wort when I need it [20 drops in a cup of hot water, wait a minute then drink it.] which is a natural anti-depressant. Also, D-Flame is an anti-inflammatory chinese herbal supplement. I take two, three times a day with food. They are both blood thinners so don't take anything else. The D-Flame manages pain most of the time.

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    1. Do see a doctor or chiropractor for advice and do what they tell you to do.

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    2. Liz, It's wonderful that you have been able to start to rebuild. I cannot imagine the frustration you must feel. Describing it as a prison sentence seems about right, and while I can ride - just with modification - I can understand your feelings certainly. I hope you're back to yourself very soon.

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