Leverage Self-Care to Deal with Injuries and Setbacks

4 ways to reclaim your well-being

Shira Miller
In Fitness And In Health
6 min readJul 29, 2021

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Photo by Yogendra Singh on Unsplash

It’s not upsetting on the level of a Zombie invasion or a full-blown pandemic. But when I sprained my ankle last week after tripping down two stairs, just 20 minutes before a moving truck showed up to cart our possessions away, it sucked. The pain was intense, as was my frustration.

Sure, I rolled with the jokes that ensued about the lengths people go to get out of moving. But all day I kept vacillating between blurting out curse words and tears, feeling useless while my awesome husband worked his butt off.

When getting my ankle checked out the next day, I learned the sprain was worse than anticipated and received the lovely immobilization boot you see here as a party favor. The doctor advised me to stay off my feet and eliminate most of the fitness activities that bring me joy and reduce stress. Just as my stress levels were feeling out of control.

Self-portrait, Shira Miller

But instead of giving up, I realized that making self-care my top priority would help. Like, a lot. Here are 4 ways I’ve found to reclaim your well-being when dealing with injuries or other unexpected setbacks:

Exercise your power of choice.

I could have sunk deep into a pity party. But that would have only made me feel worse while annoying everyone else I encountered. We all have the power to choose our reactions to life situations — and I decided to look for the upside whenever possible. There’s the fact that a podiatrist I trust had a cancellation which allowed me to see him the next day, which rarely happens, instead of having to go to an urgent care facility. Or that I wouldn’t have to deal with crutches, a scooter, or other complications, which would help me be more mobile. Heck, I could still drive and stomp around, albeit slowly. All of which are wins considering how this could have gone.

Let me be clear; this isn’t some mental whitewash I’m trying to pull over on myself. While the sense of yuck was still present, I could see the positive factors too and decided to give those more emphasis. Choosing to find ways to care for myself despite facing some new obstacles provided me with a greater sense of strength and purpose.

“You can make an empowered choice to point yourself towards self-care,” said nationally recognized life coach Michelle Goss, CPCC. “That choice gives you the fuel to do whatever is next. Otherwise, working from an empty tank makes you feel powerless and creates resentment.”

Focus on what you can do.

Instead of dwelling on the limitations you are experiencing, consider what is possible. For example, here’s how my initial conversation went with the podiatrist about working out:

Me: So what can I do when it comes to exercise?

Him: Well, you can focus on things that people don’t often prioritize that are important. Core work, and upper body strength.

Me: How about cardio?

Him: You can swim or try to use an exercise cycle wearing the full boot when you feel better. But you really need to stay off your feet.

Me: I don’t swim. So can I lift weights with my personal trainer? Anything with the lower body using kettlebells, etc.?

Him: That’s not a great idea to try squats and what you are used to with this kind of injury. We can reassess during our check-up in two weeks.

Suddenly a light bulb of an idea went off in my head. Like a cheesy lawyer in a courtroom drama, I paused dramatically and asked my final question.

Me: So how about Pilates? If I’m working out 1:1 with an instructor who has a physical therapy background?

Him: Yes, that’s a good idea.

Bingo! Suddenly I had a plan of action. Booked a couple of Pilates training sessions for this week and next week to keep me active. And these sessions have been hard. Ended up using almost every part of my body except anything that put direct pressure on my injured ankle/foot.

Have to admit that it has felt glorious to move and sweat, focusing on what I could do to promote healing and well-being. When I go back to my normal, much more intense schedule post-injury, bet I’ll be stronger than before.

Take responsibility for your healing.

As I mentioned earlier, getting into the podiatrist quickly was a huge win. But I was not just going to rely solely on his medical advice. I kept my pre-existing appointment with my chiropractor. That adjustment helped my entire body, as my left hip and glute were in pain from trying to balance out the injured right foot.

Saw my massage therapist, who has a strong background working with injured athletes. Between lymphatic massage and lot of ice to get the swelling down, she gave me K-tape, different compression wraps and a less cumbersome ankle brace to use when I was just at home.

I knew that eating healthy would go a long way to supporting my healing too. Haven’t had any refined sugar since March 1, so it has been easy to avoid sugary treats that I may have turned to previously for comfort — the kind of stuff that increases inflammation in your body. Been trying to increase my sleep each night as well.

All of those actions have helped. The same self-competitive drive that causes me to push harder in spin classes or lift more weights at the gym has been channeled into a new, singular goal — to break-up with the bulky walking boot.

The podiatrist told me I’d be in it for 2–4 weeks. During my check-up with him next week at the 2-week mark, I want to see such strong progress with healing that we kick the boot to the curb and open me up to officially do more movement. Please keep your fingers crossed for me if you don’t mind!

Build a new routine.

Routines are a beautiful thing. Build one that supports your well-being, add constant repetition, and suddenly exercise because as normal as breathing or brushing my teeth.

Before this injury, I would start most days with a meditative recording and then exercise, writing a quick journal entry before heading off to work. Now, I’ve moved that exercise to Pilates sessions at lunchtime or the end of the workday in the interim.

Am still listening to the recording right before rolling out of bed, but I’m giving myself more time to journal, think and contemplate life before hitting the shower or checking any of my digital devices. This new routine will get me through the next few weeks until I can add morning fitness back into my life, and I appreciate it.

How have you used self-care to deal with injuries and setbacks?

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Shira Miller
In Fitness And In Health

2x TEDx Speaker, Executive Coach, Chief Communications Officer and Writer with a strong passion for well-being and self-improvement www.shiramiller.com