This in no way means that I endorse competing before an injury has recovered!
It was very inpatient, stubborn, and risky of me. That itself was a lesson learned. Anyway…
Here’s how I managed to prepare for – and enter – the battle with a side / back injury.
Days 1 – 3
First, I took some rest – one of the most important factors in injury recovery. Immediately after the injury (Tuesday, September 4th) I took about two days off completely. In fact, I took a day off work too. It was quite painful the next day – I could barely roll over in bed. I described this in my first post about the injury.
However, since early movement is good for any injury, I went back to work the next day and moved as carefully as possible. I also went to practice that night – but I barely did anything. I just moved around slowly, and experimented with positions that aggravated the pain, so I knew what to avoid – then I focused on what I could do, rather than what I couldn’t. It felt great to dance, even if it was very little.
I also took an extra strength ibuprofen once or twice a day for the first few days. Anti-inflammatory medications can be very helpful in the early stages of injury – when used responsibly, of course.
Days 5 – 7
The pain was much less severe by Sunday. Coughing and sneezing still killed me. I decided to go to practice and see what I could do.
It didn’t go as well as I had hoped. I could do a lot of dancing, but anything involving a powerful twist at the waist caused as much pain as coughing or sneezing – like someone punched me right in the injury. And that’s a lot of my movements.
After that, I looked up and read about “Mental Imagery” – and what I found ended up being becoming an article. Read it! For the next three nights, I practiced this imagery. I visualized myself both free-styling, as well as executing moves that would have been painful. It was a very interesting experience, and I really think it helped.
Days 8 – 12
One week and a day in, and I head to practice for a “real” one. It was time to start an ‘Active Recovery‘. To reduce pain, I tried taping, since there’s a little research to support it. I used regular sports tape to tape my side with a big X, essentially tracing the fibers of my internal and external abdominals (like this, but with another strip to make the X).
Practice actually wasn’t so bad. I don’t believe the tape gave me any “support”, but I could certainly feel it when I was twisting, which likely kept me from twisting too much or too forcefully. I was able to do a little more during this practice, even many of the movements I planned for the competition. Everything hurt to a degree, and only a few “powermoves” actually caused significant pain: flares, swipes, and halos. Happily, I could still do babymills. The others were scrapped for this competition – not worth it.
The following evening, I did the same thing, although a little slower. I didn’t want to take any chances.
Then Friday was a day of rest, and Saturday, the battle. Before the battle, I taped my side again. I also made sure to warm up thoroughly! I went with just one goal: to have fun!
Here’s how it went:
First, there was the preliminary battles. 20 Dancers entered the one on one competition, so we had to narrow it down to the top 8. In this round, I went up against Colin, a young guy from the local bboy scene. I was pleased with how it went, and I didn’t even notice any pain! Check it out:
From there I made it to the top 8. My next battle was against bboy butta from Toronto, Canada. Unfortunately I lost that one. Although I think I did pretty good considering my injury, I really needed to go harder to beat him. Check it out:
So there it is. I made it through, survived without making the injury worse. I could even partake in the judges workshops the next day.
This was my first major injury since becoming a physical therapist. It was an interesting experience. I tried to put into practice the same principles I teach others (in approximately this order):
- First, just rest.
- Try “PRICE“. (admittedly, I slacked on this)
- Learn as much as you can about your injury.
- Anti-inflammatories. (just a little)
- Early Movement.
- Mental Imagery. (this ones new)
- Active Recovery.
- Taping and Bracing.
It was a great learning experience, and of course, the event was simply awesome. I taught a workshop in injury prevention (ironically), which went very well – people enjoyed it and had a lot of great questions.
Personally, the injury has made me think about how I can improve my rotational power in the future – so it actually caused some valuable reflection on my training techniques. I can’t wait to start training again!
This week, however, is one of rest.
In conclusion, this injury has been a great learning experience.
Has anyone else had similar “positive” experiences with injuries? Let me know!