I was in Germany last week on a business trip, and between rounds of nerve racking negotiations, I went for a long run in the forest to clear my head.
Around 12kms into my run and 2kms away from the hotel, I tripped on a tree root and fell flat on my face (and on some small rocks). As I picked myself up, a few curse words escaped, partly for being so inattentive, and mainly because the fall shattered the screen on my new iPhone 6!
I didn't realize the damage I had done to my leg as I ran (hobbled) back to the hotel, where I washed and disinfected the wounds and put my suit back on (good thing I have a mini first aid kit in my travel bag)...
Long story short: the stupid fall caused a hairline fracture in the head of my fibula (bone in lower leg).
It could have been worse, but this means that I can't do any weight-bearing exercises for at least 2 weeks. No running, squatting, lunging, cycling, rowing etc. It even hurts to go up (and especially down) stairs.
As I sat on the plane back to Dubai, I wrote down a series of lower body exercises I know I can do to keep me fit (and more importantly: sane) until I can train normally again.
Many people suffer from lower leg injuries due to accidents or simply overuse... So I thought I would share some of the exercises I'm currently doing and which you can too:
Water-Based Workouts: maintain and develop endurance and fat burning
- Swim sets: I do a variety of sets, some can be labeled as high intensity workouts, others are designed to build muscular endurance, while others are pure cardio
- Kick-sets with fins: I treat these as hard high intensity workouts for the legs. Believe me, your legs will be as sore as after a hard gym workout. I'll do sets of 25m and 50m of hard kicking with heavy fins as my go to session. I'll also alternate between kicking on my back, front, and sides. You can add variety and really give you core a workout by doing "corkscrew" kick sessions where you start kicking on your stomach, rotate to one side, then back to facing down... You want to add more spice? Do kick sets with a central snorkel: the restricted breathing has been shown to trigger increases in the production of hemoglobin (oxygen carrying red blood cells) in ways similar to the effects of training at altitude.
- Aqua running: I don't have a flotation belt but I'll either use the shallow end of the pool or the deep end by holding onto the wall or lane rope. The trick to these workouts is again to treat them like "track sessions" by doing sets of 1-2min of really hard running followed by equal rest.
Gym-Based Workouts: develop muscular strength and endurance
- Isometrics: An isometric exercise is one where you get into a position and "hold" that position until you can't anymore. Studies have shown that isometric exercises lead to significant increases in muscular endurance, fat burning, increases lactic acid tolerance, and more. If done properly, you'll be sore for days. Examples I like include:
- Wall Squat: get into a squat position with your back against a wall and your knees and hips at 90deg angles, hold to failure.
- Lunge (go as low as you can and hold - hold a dumbbell on your hands if you can). Focus on: quads, glutes, core and hamstrings.
- Supine bridge (put some weight on your hips for an added challenge). Focus on: glutes, hamstring and core.
- Calf Raise Hold: grab a pair of dumbells, lift up onto your toes and hold. This one will burn! Focus on: calves.
- Yoga: perfect but be careful with holding weight bearing positions for too long (eg: single leg balancing)
I really hope none of you have to use these because of injuries, but you can even benefit from them even if not injured.
Don't let any setback (physical or otherwise) affect your motivation or goals.