Injuries, unfortunately, are often a big part of everyone’s fitness journey. Usually (and hopefully) they’re minor and manageable, but sometimes they’re not. And that’s just how it goes. Let’s talk a bit about prehab and rehab, my injury experience, and how to get through the mental barriers that come with injuries and other setbacks along the way.
Prehab is an incredibly important part of my training. I already have a very functional foundation in my programs and all of the exercises I perform/prescribe, but adding in extra prehab is very important. It’s also very individualized!
what is it?
Prehab can be anything from stretching a single muscle group, to running, to performing a full on physical therapy routine.
Based on the individual and their specific needs, the prehab is going to be different. But prehab in general is the performance of therapy-like exercises in an effort to strengthen a muscle/joint/body part and minimize the risk of injury.
I personally have a pretty hefty routine of prehab that I do just for my whole body. I pick and choose which parts of the routine depending on the day, how my body feels and what I’m training that day. But I’ve always been very strict on properly priming the body, and also properly recovering to avoid injury.
is it fun?
Not particularly. Prehab can be tedious, painful, intense, or difficult. It often consists of small, controlled manipulations of certain muscles/joints in order to instill proper mechanics, mobility etc.
That being said, it can also provide tons of relief of certain muscle groups/joints, making them feel loosened, aligned and ready. It is SO important to incorporate proper mechanics and corrective exercises into your routine to make sure you’re doing everything you can to avoid injury.
how do I do it?
The first step is to figure out what you need it for. What stops you from doing certain exercises or activities?
It may be that tight hips stop you from squatting to 90 degrees, or that a stiff shoulder doesn’t let you lift over your head. Or maybe you don’t have any issues yet, you just want to be preventative, which is the whole point of prehab. Which is great!
In any case, figure out what ails you or what you think you want to protect further from any injury. Then, research. Every body part requires different stretching or mobilizing, and it’s always going to look different to prevent pain and injury. Start trying to research prehab exercises for each area, or ask me! And I can help.
Injuries and mental hurdles
Oftentimes injuries lead to a variety of mental hurdles that need overcoming during the recovery process and further down the line while integrating back into activity.
Sure, the physical pains of injury suck. And they can last a while. However, they are usually manageable and generally fade quicker than the lasting mental barriers.
Mental barriers from injury have been reported to be the reason many people stop lifting weights, athletes quit their sport, or individuals don’t ever start exercising in the first place.
Return to activity post-injury is difficult due to the psychological reaction to injury. These psychological reactions can look different depending on the individual. Common culprits include:
- Inability to participate in valued activity
People who love their sport/activity/workouts who are then forced to suddenly stop all involvement have a hard time accepting this loss.
- Threatened sense of identity
Oftentimes exercise, activities, sports and other things that involve movement and a healthy body create one’s sense of self. The inability to move in the ways they normally do causes a loss of their sense of identity – who am I without exercise?
- Inability to reach goals
Some people thrive on goal-setting, and dreams of reaching those goals (whether long-term or short-term) often disappear and are stripped as soon as injury occurs.
Injuries can be a real b*tch to overcome, and a lot of injuries come with unwanted emotions – anger, frustration, anxiety, depression, sadness, fear and disappointment.
How to cope
There are so many ways to make your injury less overwhelming and more manageable! Don’t lose hope.
- In my own experience, one of the most important components of recovery and getting through the mental barriers that come from injury is having a solid support system. Reach out to someone important to you (a friend, partner, coach, family member) and let them know that for the next __ number of weeks, you’re going to need to lean on them. And then do it! Those that love you will gladly take on the role of supporting you and helping you through a hard time.
- Take your recovery seriously. Your previous “job” may have been exercising daily. Now your job is to recover – do everything in your power to help this happen! Treat your recovery like a new priority with new goals – to get better ASAP. Looking at recovery as a component of training can help, as it has a lot of similarities. Spend your time away from the gym working on the things you still can – stretching, breathwork, mobility, meditation, nutrition – all things that will help your performance down the road post-injury!
- Stay busy. It may be difficult at first, not knowing how to fill your gym-time with something else. But find something you are passionate about outside of exercise. This will help with keeping your sense of identity, and also keep you occupied instead of sitting around bored and sad all day. Grab a book, practice a new language, join an online class – the options are endless! You can still stay fit while injured – mentally and physically.
My injury experience
Unfortunately I’m not unfamiliar with injury! I had my first knee surgery when I was 14 and had screws put in the end of my femur to try to limit the effects of a degenerative bone disease attacking my knee joint. I then had two more surgeries on it over the next 8 years.
It was always hard taking time away from my sport (I ran track for 16 years) and missing out on everything that I couldn’t do while on crutches. Looking at it as a temporary setback for longterm benefits always helped me get through it.
wtf happened to me this time
If you didn’t know, I’m currently injured.
As I write this, I have not walked in exactly two months. I went from doing 20,000 steps per day, hitting the gym at 6am every day, performing olympic lifts, sprinting on the treadmill, biking around my city, and doing yoga on the weekends – to being unable to walk for two months. That is a LONG time, and it has not been fun.
Basically what happened is that my foot had a very unfortunately-timed encounter with the ground. I ended up rolling my ankle and *somehow* shattering a very important bone into 8 pieces. Kind of a freak accident but I’m not mad (anymore). Just a bit of bad luck, what can ya do.
Right when it happened, I was pretty sure something was broken, but I didn’t know if I was just being a baby. Keir had to come carry me inside and we tried to convince ourselves that it wasn’t that bad.
Turns out it was the most bad.
That’s slightly dramatic, but it wasn’t good.
When I rolled my ankle, I managed to shatter my cuboid into 8 pieces. I spent all day in the ER as they took x-rays, a CT scan, and waited for a foot and ankle orthopedic surgeon to look at my imaging. The surgeon then confirmed that I would need to have reconstruction surgery ASAP to repair my poor, mangled cuboid.
I went home in an air-boot and waited for the surgeon to call and schedule my operation.
Idk if you wanted to learn about your feet, but here’s a little (very brief) lesson in foot and ankle anatomy!
The cuboid is a bone in your foot that is essential to the integrity of your ankle. It aids in stability, range of motion, balance, and the function of the lateral column of the foot. So a displaced cuboid that has disrupted the joint lines of the foot & ankle ultimately jeopardizes the functionality of the foot and everything that it can do (which is a lot!).
The cuboid is also the central bone for three joints of the midfoot that “bridge” the foot to the ankle: two metatarsal joints, the calcaneocuboid joint, and the articulation with the lateral cuneiform. So it connects the bones in the midfoot that allow full function from the heel all the way to the toes.
Because the cuboid is such an involved bone with multiple muscle, ligament and tendon attachments, it is apparently VERY uncommon to have an isolated injury. Meaning that if you’ve injured your cuboid, you’ve likely injured MANY other components of your ankle – ligaments, other bones of the midfoot, etc.
In true Teigan fashion, I managed to pull it off. I’m a true winner. Simply shattered my cuboid without harming any other aspect of my ankle (hence the freak accident part).
Surgery was so important for me because due to the disruption of the joint lines associated with my cuboid, I had lost a lot of length of the lateral column of my foot. Think of a crushed can being half the height of its original form. This loss of length meant incredible problems for my foot for the rest of my life if it was not fixed.
I’m going to be really nice (ugh) and use a digital photo for what I had put into my foot – a plate and 8 screws (internal fixation). I may sound like a crazy person, but I asked my surgeon to take a photo of my foot before he stitched it up. So he did! And I think it’s the raddest photo, however I think some people may get mad at me if I put it in here and they had to see it lol. It’s a picture of my foot on the operation table, open incision, plate and screws newly drilled in. I’ll just let you imagine it for a sec (send me a message if ya wanna see).
This is pretty much what it looks like (below). In the photo of my foot, it’s so amazing to see how perfectly he re-aligned the joint lines. He also was sure not to disrupt the major nerve that runs right over the cuboid. I just find the body so interesting and love to see this kind of stuff. Hopefully I’ll get to be an OR nurse one day!
I won’t be able to run for 6 months (or do anything high-impact). This is huge for me and has been a struggle! But I have the best support system and have been managing thanks to Keir taking care of me – he is an absolute angel.
I have been completely non-weight bearing for exactly two months now. Along with being on crutches, I’ve also had to wear a tall air boot ever since I got my cast off (it’s been 5 weeks). As of today I can start putting a bit of weight on it, but it’s going to be a long road to full recovery. I’ll also be starting physical therapy tomorrow to get everything working again (my foot can’t do much as of now).
I’m not going to lie, I have been very frustrated. Being unable to walk has been honestly infuriating sometimes. I can’t work, I can’t make myself food, I can’t go anywhere, I can’t do what I love to do. I’ve lost 15lbs and tons of muscle/strength, and I can’t even shower standing up. It has been SO easy for me to focus on everything that I can’t do, and sometimes I let myself think about how much it sucks.
But then I stop myself because there is so much that I can still do. I’m focusing majorly on my stretching and hip mobility right now, something I haven’t been doing as much as I should. I am also diving into French courses! Which I’ve been wanting to do since I moved to Canada and met Keir. So I have plenty to do and I have to accept the challenge of channeling my energy into new things for a while.
And as of today I can start to walk! So my recovery will really speed up from here. I can’t wait till I’m back in the gym and crushing new goals again!
My current daily routine:
- Tea and stretching in the morning (1 hour)
- Very funny (sad) workouts that only use one leg/upper body/core
- Practicing French
- Working on my Microbiology online course
- Watching every cheesy Netflix xmas movie
If you find yourself struggling with a physical injury, time constraints, a new schedule – ANYTHING that is stopping you from getting to the gym and reaching your goals, talk to me about it. It can be so hard mentally to overcome and we can work together to get through it.
And if you want some help on coming up with prehab exercises catered to your needs – hit me up! Let’s keep you healthy so you don’t end up like me and my foot.
Hargreaves E. The psychological response to physical activity related injury. Journal of science and medicine in sport: supplement 1. 2012;15:137. doi:10.1016/j.jsams.2012.11.330
I thought I’d perk up your day with a yummy baking recipe!
These are vegan. I’m not vegan, but the fact that they are vegan actually makes these super easy to make with ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen already (yay no shopping you can make them tonight!).
I actually was going to use an egg for these but realized we didn’t have any so I improvised and it turned out great!
Prep time: 10 minutes
Baking time: 20 minutes
- 2 cups flour
- 4 ripe bananas (fresh or frozen)
- 1 “egg” made of 2 tbs water, 1 tbs of your preferred oil (I used olive oil), and 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup almond milk (can use any milk, coconut works great too)
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- Optional chocolate chips!
These are the perfect little treat to have on the go for breakfast or to satisfy your sweet tooth for dessert.
- Preheat oven to 375
- Mash your 4 bananas
- Add in all of your wet ingredients: “egg,” milk, vanilla, and mix with a wooden spoon
- Mix in the dry ingredients: baking soda, cinnamon, flour, chocolate chips
- Grease your muffin tray (avoid liners for less waste :))
- Use a 1/4 cup scoop to portion out your batter into each muffin slot
- Bake for 18-20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through
- Sit patiently as your mouth waters at the smell of your muffins (that cinnamon tho)
- Let cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes
These little muffins are 123 calories each and the most comforting & satisfying treat! Save them in an air-tight container for the rest of the week. Microwave for 20 seconds before consumption for optimal happiness.
Do you like learning new recipes?! Let me know!
I think it’s extremely common for people to be very overwhelmed and even confused with information on diet/nutrition.
There are SO MANY different diets, fads, tips & tricks out there that make the topic extremely saturated. And to top it off – most of the advice that is circling around is completely contradictory. Someone you follow thinks that one diet is the secret to weight loss, another says the opposite.
It’s frustrating for me as well, as I’m no dietitian and don’t know everything there is to know about nutrition. But I am able to see through the methods that simply have no scientific basis and use slogans like “fast track to fat loss” and “eliminate love handles with this supplement” to suck people in.
What I’m here to tell you NOT to do is the falsely stated “fitness tips” that, in reality, are money-grab fads that you don’t need in your life. Let’s talk about how to create a sustainable lifestyle change to cater to a healthy diet.
The truth is, the diet (or non-diet) for you is…
The one that you will actually adhere to.
Please read that again.
2 more times for good measure.
what do I mean?
I mean that the right diet for you is the one that you enjoy and will actually be able to stick to. If you are trying to restrict yourself to an insanely limited range of meals and get super bored of them, you aren’t going to stick to it. And then you’ll get off track from your plan and feel bad about it.
There are so many extreme forms of fitness and dieting, and so many famous people that swear by one method and one method only. But I’m here to tell you that there is not, and never has been, a “one size fits all” for nutrition.
Every single person actually needs their own recipe for what will work for them. We all have different goals, different preferences for meals, different genes, hormone levels, activity levels, etc. We like different foods and what works for one person may not for another.
You have to eat for the rest of your life (duh) and the most important thing on your mind regarding food should be your relationship with it. You don’t want to be constantly having to do 21-day detoxes the rest of your life, do you?
You should try to focus on creating a sustainable diet – and by diet I simply mean the food you eat – that you enjoy and can do long-term. Like for the rest of your life long-term. Something sustainable that you don’t have to jump in and out of all the time. Yo-yo diets are not the way to go.
Here are a few EXTREMELY simplified tips for your nutrition. These are a great starting point if you feel lost or overwhelmed with the idea of paying attention to your diet.
dos and don’ts of nutrition
DON’T: start cutting out everything you love
Why? Why would you go to extreme measures and make yourself miserable? You don’t need to cut out all carbs. You don’t need to eat exactly what Jane Doe eats to look like her. Trying to start a diet that you won’t enjoy is like trying to go shopping for quality clothes at Forever 21. You may be satisfied short term, but in the end everything will fall apart.
DO: find your areas of over-indulgence
We all have certain habits when it comes to our food. Maybe we are keen to snack all day/night. Maybe we have bigger-than-needed portions for dinner. Or maybe we can’t help but have that giant bowl of ice cream at night.
But instead of being ~extreme~ and completely cutting all of that out, find a happy medium. Opt for low-calorie alternatives. Make your own veggie/potato chips instead of the greasy, oiled up store-bought ones. Fill your dinner plate with extra veggies (fiber) and protein to fill you up with a smaller portion. Find a low-calorie ice cream that you love.
You don’t have to eliminate. Just look into what your habits are and see how here and there you can choose healthier alternatives to some areas where you might over-indulge.
DON’T: assume that eating healthy foods will make you lose weight
Many people claim that they are eating healthy but still not losing weight.
If you aren’t losing fat, you are not in a calorie deficit. Unfortunately people that say this don’t know a lot about what makes a food “healthy” and what it contains, especially how many calories.
DO: educate yourself on your go-to foods
It can be super helpful to find out how many calories are in typical foods that you eat. That way you know that if you limit some and increase others, you can have a different outcome in your total daily caloric intake.
All it takes is some time and research to figure out what foods will be best for you – foods that you like AND help you reach your weight loss goals.
DON’T: decide that certain foods are inherently “good” or “bad”
What makes a food good/bad? The nutrient density? The taste? The way it makes you feel?
Foods aren’t grown/made inherently good or bad. It can take a serious mental toll on you when you view them as such, and can lead to serious unhappiness. Don’t view certain foods as “cheat meals” when it may be more calories and less nutrients. Don’t think something is “good” just because it has less calories.
DO: create a balance of nutritious/not so nutritious food
This kind of goes back to the why make yourself miserable point above. Foods that we love aren’t BAD, they just may not be as nutrient dense as others. It doesn’t mean we can’t eat them, it just means we should eat them with other nutritious foods and maybe keep them in moderation – like literally every other food ever.
you vs. food?
You should feel like you have an alliance with your food, not like it’s your enemy.
It’s important to think about food as fuel. What you put into your body makes you feel a certain way, and helps fuel you for the day. If you are fueling your body with extremely nutrient dense foods but you don’t really feel satisfied or happy about your meals, it’s going to catch up to you. This often ends in bingeing on a food you do love.
So take into account how food makes you feel – physically, mentally and emotionally. I love having something light before workouts because I know it will make my body feel good when I exercise. And I love to eat dessert every night after dinner because it makes me feel content and satisfies my sweet tooth.
Find your balance (it takes time and patience) and learn to understand your body. It will be so worth it, especially in the long run.
If you have questions or need help, I am always available! I can help you find the right balance for your goals and needs.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve been searching for motivation ever since this lockdown started.
I’m here to tell you: you don’t need it.
Now hear me out. This is a global pandemic. This is a time where everyone’s routines have been uprooted and basically thrown in the garbage. This is not the happiest of times and we really shouldn’t be placing unrealistic expectations on ourselves.
I also don’t think we need to use this time to be insanely productive, learn a new skill, read our book list for the year or feel like we need to be doing all of the things we “didn’t have time for” previously. We don’t need to spend 2 hours a day working out.
And this is because we are dealing with so much more than what’s on the surface. As if the global pandemic wasn’t enough, we’re dealing with every level that is affected as this lockdown trickles down into each aspect of our lives.
We can’t see our loved ones. We can’t work. We can’t express ourselves how we normally do. Our days are filled with excessive screen-time and excessive food. Our minds are filled with excessive anxiety and excessive worries. This is so much happening that most of us have never experienced, and all of these changes are ok.
It is OK to not be motivated, have direction, or be happy every day. It is more than OK to forego your normal structured routine and adjust your goals.
why set yourself up for failure?
Instead of locking in on your crazy weight loss goal, maybe lock in on your ability to maintain, to break that mental barrier and get stronger. Instead of restricting your calories to nonexistent, maybe accept this time to have fun trying new recipes and experimenting in the kitchen. There is no reason to keep these once (semi) realistic goals that have now become nearly impossible, just so that we see ourselves fail.
This isn’t to say that it’s impossible to reach your goals right now. But take into consideration how intensely you’ve been affected by this historic event. And set goals that cater to your current situation.
so what does this have to do with motivation?
Instead of searching high and low (there’s only so many spots in the house for it to hide) for motivation, search for the desire to be a better you.
This doesn’t mean a skinnier, stronger, bigger bootier you, but a happier you.
How do you feel after a workout? For me, I am exhilarated. I feel all of the endorphins. I feel strong, powerful, and more confident in myself and what I can do.
Even when it’s a shitty workout, I tell myself that I’m awesome for trying and at least moving my body for a bit, and I move on.
I try to move my body daily because it keeps my body and mind happy. My whole mood shifts when I have a good workout and it allows me to return to the present without worrying about anything else. I can get lost in my music, focus on my form and how my body is moving, and feel the energy within me. This is what really allows me to stay motivated.
just do it for you
Stop searching for motivation, because possibly more days than not, it won’t be sitting next to you on the couch & easily accessible.
Pick yourself up, grab some water and throw on a bomb playlist for you, your mental health, and your body that is craving to be challenged.
Dedicate the time for yourself, even if it’s only 10 minutes! Just make yourself start and do what you can. Each day you will be surprised at how much you can do. And on days that you REALLY don’t want to do anything, you’ll be even more surprised when your dedication to yourself overrides your lack of motivation. Because you are stronger than you think you are.
tips for showing up for yourself
- Make a to-do list
If you write out a list of things you want/need to accomplish that day, you’ll eventually get tired of not being able to cross them off if you don’t do them. So write down what you really want for yourself to do – to workout, to cook, to catch up on work.
2. Set an alarm
Plan out when you want to get your workout in. If you know you like to have your mornings to relax and wake up – don’t expect yourself to workout first thing in the AM. Set an alarm for a reasonable time that works for your schedule. When the timer goes off, don’t think about it. Stand up, grab your 8-week plan, put on your music and just start.
3. Have an accountability partner
Tell someone you’re going to do my 8-week plan. If you voice your goals to others, you are much more likely to accomplish them. And if your accountability partner is a good one – they won’t let you fail. Make a friend do my plan with you if you want! That way you can check in with them after each workout and congratulate each other for completing it. Don’t have an accountability partner? Use me! I’m always happy to check in on you and keep you going.
4. Use a program that lays out your workouts for you
If you don’t already have a plan that tells you what workout to do each day, you should get one. Half the battle of working out, especially without access to equipment & studio classes, is figuring out what to do. Use a plan (ideally my free 8-week home guide ;)) to set you up for success. You wake up and you know exactly what you’re doing that day. All you have to do is set the alarm and get it done. Don’t think about it, just do it!
5. Track your progress
This does not have to be on a scale (and I’d say it’s probably better, especially right now, if it’s not). Notice how you can do an extra round of a circuit as you go through the plan. Notice how the push ups become easier, your body is less sore, and you have more energy. Take note of all of this, and appreciate how your workouts are changing the way you feel. Hold onto this because all of these reasons will keep you going on the days that you have zero motivation, I promise.
6. Show yourself all the love
Please be kind to yourself. You are going through so much. It’s easy to say others are going through more than you are, that maybe you shouldn’t feel so affected. While others may have it worse, it doesn’t invalidate your own feelings. Allow yourself to adjust the areas of your life that need it to cope with this time period. We are all in this together and you are most definitely not alone. Be kind to yourself and your body (the workouts will make your body so happy) and take it all one day at a time.
magic motivation? nope
I don’t want anyone to feel like everyone else has some sort of magic motivation that they can’t seem to find. We don’t, no one does. At the end of the day, we just want to show up for ourselves and stay happy/sane.
When your lack of motivation is telling you that you don’t need a workout, shut it out. Instead, tell yourself that your best you is waiting on the other side of that Cardio & Core session. Stop thinking, shut off the brain and move your body. You will feel so good after, I promise. After all, working out is one of the best forms of therapy.
SO, I hope you are all ready to kick some ass during this 8-week workout plan!
Let’s lift each other up, cheer each other on, and show up for ourselves.