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Training After Injury: The Road to Rehabilitation — Week 3: The First Workout

Hello, friends. You’ve made it to the third instalment of my “Training After Injury: The Road to Rehabilitation” series. To recap: after suffering from a neck injury (and nursing it back to health, thanks to my physiotherapist), I’ve become very cautious of how I exercise, to avoid any future injuries. Equinox hooked me up with one of its Tier-3+ trainers, Roy Chan, and now I’m working with him to fix any other imbalances in my body, prevent my neck from locking again and further irritate a temperamental SI joint, all while increasing my upper body strength (measured by being able to do one full chin-up and at least five push-ups off the ground). It’s a lot, I know.

Last week, Roy did an physical assessment with me which left me traumatized, humbled, but most of all, determined to reach my goals of doing five push-ups off the ground, improving my rotary stability to 2:2, improving range of motion in my neck and losing 3mm off my skin folds (or one per cent body fat), all while avoiding irritation in my right SI joint.

This week? Our first workout. Now, I’m not going to lie, this first workout actually happened the week after Christmas meaning a) I ate rather unhealthily the entire week prior and b) I hadn’t worked out for a week. Basically I went into it feeling like a blob. The worst part was, Roy asked me to fill out a three-day food log so he could take a look at my eating habits… and I chose to use Dec. 24, 25 and 26 as those days (face palm).

But let’s get to the workout, shall we?

Here’s the breakdown:

Corrective Strategy/Movement Prep

Supine Wave — For this, I started on my back, with my feet flat on the ground and knees up. From there, I would drop my knees to my right side before bringing them up to centre again and bringing them down to the left side. I was supposed to do two sets of six reps, but I found straight away that this irritated my SI joint, so Roy nixed it.

Quadruped Wave — Here, I started in child’s pose. Then, I would bring myself up to table top position, before going into cobra pose. Again, this was repeated for two sets of six reps.

Mobility Flow — a.k.a. the “world’s greatest stretch.” Starting in a standing position, I would slowly fold down towards the ground. From there, I would crawl out into a plank position, before bringing my left foot towards my hands, and extending my left arm up. Then, I would go back into plank position before repeating on the other side, going back to plank position, crawling back and rolling back up.

1/2 Kneeling Cable Chop — I used a cable station for this. After going into a lunge position, with my left knee on the floor, I would pull the rope handle from the cable station (weighted at 15lbs) in a “chopping” motion towards my left side. I would then repeat on my right side, switching my lunge position. This is where I really felt my core activating to keep me from falling over. I repeated this 10 times (both sides) for two sets.

Resistance Training: Set A

Goblet Squat — This one’s easy. Squat using a 10kg kettlebell for 10 reps.

TRX Row — Probably my least fave of the bunch, to be honest. I’ve always heard TRX was tough, but it is truly no joke! Basically here, I had to put my body at a 45 degree angle and keep it straight while holding onto the straps. Then, I had to pull my torso towards my hands, keeping my elbows close to my body. This primarily works the upper back muscles, so I had to essentially try to pinch my shoulder blades together while pulling myself up, 15 times! It was a tough one, no doubt.

Resistance Training: Set B

Push-Up Eccentric — This exercise is to help me ease into my five push-ups off the ground goal. However, instead of making me do full push-ups from the start, Roy had me  focus on going down, rather than pushing myself up. To be honest, the going down part isn’t hard for me, it’s the pushing up, but Roy says this will help, so, you know, I listen. I did 10 of these.

Lateral ViPr Bound — Have you ever heard of a ViPr? Me neither. Created by Michol Dalcourt, it allows you to integrate Loaded Movement Training into your workout. For this exercise, I started in a split squat position (right foot forward) and used my back foot (in this case, left) to move laterally to my left and land in the opposite split squat position (left foot forward). Easy, right? Yes, until you add a 6kg ViPr and swing it in the direction you are moving, while in the split squat. It forced me to keep my core engaged so I didn’t lose balance (I toppled over the first few times, hence the laughter in the photo below). I repeated this 20 times.

Resistance Training: Set C

Tri-Stance Bridge — This is sort of like your average bridge, but with some extensions. I started off with my left knee bent and right leg extended. Keeping my right arm on the ground behind me (hand facing behind me, as well), I thrust my hips towards the ceiling to bring myself up. I repeated this eight times on each side. 

Front Plank Shoulder — Starting in a plank position, I slowly brought one arm up and taped my opposite shoulder, all while keeping my body level and stable. I pretty much had to imagine I had a glass of water on my back that I didn’t want to spill. I did 10 shoulder taps total.

I repeated each set three times before moving on to the next set. From there, I finished off doing interval training on the rowing machine (rowing to 250m four times, with 60 second breaks in between). And voila, my first workout with Roy.

My biggest lesson learned from week three? Strength training is harder than I thought. I’m used to intense cardio that leaves me feeling exhausted immediately after the workout, but this was a slow burn. I was most definitely sore for for several days following my session, to the point where it was difficult for me to walk down the stairs or even get dressed! However, I didn’t mind the pain so much, because at least it meant I was working my muscles, hard… perhaps too hard, because the following week I suffered a set-back that halted Roy’s initial plans for me and left me feeling discouraged and in tears.

But you’ll hear all about that next week. Trust me, you don’t want to miss it. See you then!