already a change of plan!

Adaptability is an important skill, right? I feel like the last few months have been a test of my adaptability. I’m still here, so I guess I’m doing okay in the adaptability arena?

Backstory: a year and a half ago I broke my right ankle very badly. I had to have surgery and now my right lower leg and ankle are covered in plates and pins (the X-ray is pretty weird-looking). At the time, I had about 2 1/2 months of physical therapy, but I discontinued for a couple reasons — I was a grad student with a pretty small income and PT is expensive, and I started my crazy series of moves across the country for internships and finally to move in with the BF — not a lot of time to find new PTs in each place and start a PT program only to move again. My leg was in good enough shape to walk on so I decided it was okay. I was cleared by a doctor to return to normal activities “as tolerated”. I hiked part of the Appalachian Trail (which led to overuse soreness) and I started lifting weights and running.

But my ankle still isn’t 100%, which I know for a few reasons: 1. Overuse pain (overnight backpacking). 2. Decreased range of motion. 3. It affects my ability to distribute weight evenly while lifting weights — my left thigh (the one with the ankle) is 1 full inch bigger than my right thigh, which says a lot about muscle usage and muscle growth.

I am an SLP and I work in skilled nursing. By default my closest colleagues are an occupational therapist and a physical therapist. Earlier this week during a rare lull at work, I asked the PT for a quick consult about my ankle. I figured, given that I’m at a crossroads in my exercise program anyway, now would be a good time to get an opinion from a PT about what I should and shouldn’t be doing on my ankle. The verdict:

<strong>”Listen to yourself. You get overuse pain. Your thighs aren’t acquiring muscle mass evenly. Your ankle is telling you it’s not ready for heavy weight-bearing exercises and high-impact cardio.”</strong> Le sigh.

The PT (who is an amazing PT and a great colleague) recommended a very different kind of exercise program than I’ve been doing: bicycling (for ROM), yoga (for ROM and strength), toe-walking and heel-walking on soft/unstable surfaces like grass (for balance and strength), step-ups (progressing to box jumps), weighted ankle flexion/extension/rotation, body-weight wall squats. Day hikes are fine (yay!) but overnight backpacking is not (boo). No heavy lifting. No running on streets (a little trail running is okay but it should not be the cornerstone of my training program).

Of course I am hugely grateful for the free consult. But I have to be honest: yoga and bicycling are not terribly appealing. I don’t even own a bike. This is all so different from what I’ve been doing exercise-wise over the past year that frankly I’m feeling a little lost.

So for the moment, I’m just letting this info sink in. It’s not completely antithetical from what I talked about in my last blog post – there definitely needs to be a body-weight strength component to my exercise. But I also need to fit in yoga, and some plyometrics type stuff, and figure out the bicycle situation.

So that’s where I’m at. Trying to be positive: I want my ankle to be at its best so I *can* go back to doing my preferred activities as safely as possible. But… it would just be really nice if the world would stop with the curveballs just for a little while so I could have a break from all the adaptability. Because it’s exhausting.