Happy Monday! I couldn’t think of a better way to kick off the week by sharing something I’m so excited about for a multitude of reasons: my fitness routine! As you guys know from my road to recovery posts (you can catch up on all of them in my fitness section!), I got dealt with two injury blows over the past year: one back sprain last September that literally sent my body into shock, followed by another in January. As a very active and athletic person, it could only be described as a truly humbling experience. Clearly, what I thought I knew about my body and its limits was totally wrong, not to mention I wasn’t aware of where I was truly lacking in strength. I’m trying to make an effort to talk about it all here because while talking about pelvic strength, myofascial release and micro muscle strengthening isn’t as sexy as a headline like “SCORE SIX PACK ABS IN A WEEK,” I quickly realized that all those “showy” muscles I always focused on aren’t what’s going to protect my body over the long haul. Not to mention, if you have those really important muscles good and strong, you likely will already score all those more visible muscle benefits along the way and more quickly!
In a weird way, my injury has been a blessing, albeit an extraordinarily painful, expensive and psychologically taxing one. Just to update you quickly, what I’ve finally learned after getting the opinion of different specialists is that I have SI joint dysfunction (so thankfully, not a spinal thing as far as we can tell). It’s pretty common but can be extremely debilitating. It effectively puts your body out of alignment, making some muscles shorten (and sometimes spasm) to compensate, pulling at your myofascial tissue and tendons (and sometimes even your bones – have had to deal with a few popped out ribs!) and really limits your ability to strengthen the muscles that need strengthening. You also have a lot of mechanical things you have to fix, from how you stand to how you sit.
Fortunately, I’ve got a team that’s helped me so much (all the details about my specialists are below), both in treating the injury and in educating me, empowering me with the tools I need to not only manage/reduce pain, but to get stronger than I ever have been before.
What that means is that my routine looks very different than it did a year before, i.e. before this injury happened. I used to do a lot of runs, a lot of spin and some free weights, with some boot camps and the like all thrown in for good measure. I really miss a lot of that (especially running) but before I get back to the workouts that tend to pound my joints a bit more, I’m making sure I’m as strong as I can possibly be.
I’m feeling really great lately – I feel really strong, and not just in the muscle groups that I had to rebuild after needing to take time off when my injury was at its worst, but also in groups I didn’t really work out much if at all before my injury (when I ironically felt “my fittest”). My pelvic muscles, my lower core and the small muscles around my glutes and groin are a major focus these days, but equally important is adding in a lot of muscle release and stretching, things I never did before.
So whether you’re looking to recover from an injury or you just want to take your fitness next level without compromising your body over the longterm, this weekly routine has really helped me and I hope it helps you!
A couple things to keep in mind: I definitely grew up with my athletic training in a mindset that pushing myself to my brink was always the goal. It’s been really hard for me to move past that, but while you want to definitely push yourself a little bit every time you work out, you don’t want to be so sore the next day you can hardly move. This is just sending your body into stress and it makes it hard to have a continuous routine because you’re just compounding muscle stress and minor tears on top of itself.
Also, as mentioned above, I’m not just doing these workouts and calling it a day. I usually have an hour of mobilizations and stretching added in, along with a lot of foam rolling. I’m just sharing my routine as a general guide but if you’re hoping to follow it and don’t have the time to add in quite as much rehabilitative work in your days, cut out 1-2 days and focus on walking, stretching, etc on those days to make sure your muscles are releasing!
My Weekly Routine
Program A Weight Training (45 min) – this is under lock & key with my trainer Kenny Muir (maybe I’ll ask him to create something down the road for you guys if he’s interested!) but either design your own that focuses on 2 muscle groups (legs + booty or core + arms are usually easy pairings) or source workouts from a solid fitness mag or a great fitness blog!
Hatha Yoga – my Program A routine definitely results in some soreness the next day so I like to make sure I really get my steps in the next day to keep my muscles loose (I am for 10K a day but whatever works for your body!) and other than my mobilizations and stretches, I like to do some Hatha yoga as it really releases muscles and builds up strength.
Dailey Barre – with my muscles fully recovered, I love to hit my fave Jen Basa Kazuta’s barre class. I’m guaranteed to usually feel this a little bit the next day! I love that there’s such a focus on pelvic strength and spinal awareness in Dailey – I have the legs & booty Dailey workouts coming soon but if you’re interested, check out the arm and core routine!
Program B Weight Training (35 minutes) + 1.5K Swim – I like to hit the weight room first with my weight training then get some great, supported cardio in at the pool afterwards. I grew up swimming competitively so my big love for it was rekindled when it was literally one of the only things I could safely do early on in my injury. It’s honestly one of my favourite workouts – you build up endurance, you get a really strong core (and shoulders/delts, so definitely good to pair stretching and release in those areas!) and it will make you stronger in everything you do. It’s also super safe for injuries, so on top of being killer cardio, it’s really gentle on your body too. Again, just make sure you’re moving around your weight training to focus on different muscle groups!
Dailey Method – I’m usually not too sore from Program B and swimming actually usually loosens me up quite a bit so all set to go for Dailey the next day. I love closing off the week with a good burn at barre and if you follow me on Snap (tovogueorbust), you know I always bike home so I get some added cardio in!
Saturday & Sunday
So this is where I tune into my body and decide where I’m at – if I’m feeling good that week, I’ll do Program A again followed with a lot of stretches and take Sunday entirely off (just walking lots). If I’m maybe a bit achey though, this is the day I’ll work in a big bike ride or hike with my friends. What I think is sometimes hard to understand is especially for the spine, an active body is better than an inactive one. Yes, you need to recover and take time off (which is why I try to strategically stack my workouts so that there’s some active recovery always following my more intense routines). But I think it’s important to still make “rest” days something, even if it’s a big walk. When I follow this philosophy, I recover better, my back feels totally fine and I feel like I’m still adding to my fitness. On the days I feel truly lazy and decide to “rest” at home and watch TV all day on a particularly dreary Sunday – well, that’s when my back starts aching like crazy.
The beginning and end of it is that I like to make sure my weeks are very carefully planned and then the weekends, it’s a chance to tune in and decide what my body specifically needs on that given week. If it’s good to go for some weight training then that’s ideal as it will help my body strengthen and I know I’ll have a recovery day to look forward to on Sunday. But if it’s a bit off, then yeah, a hike, swim or even just playing at the beach like I did yesterday will be just what it needs so that it’s good to go again!
Just a note that if I can squeeze another weight training session in, I also listen to my body to see what it needs – maybe it can handle Program B this week but Program A will add stress to sore shoulders as an example. Again, making sure it’s not too rigid and that you’re in tune with what your body needs!
So this novel is just about done! To close up, just really want to say that fitness has always been such a big part of my life but ironically, never more so than after experiencing these injuries and having my activity levels dropped lower than ever before for a bit, so if you’re dealing with a frustrating injury, try to see the positive side of it. I’m so grateful that I’ve found resources, studios and support systems to help me get strong again and to really know so much about my body now. I won’t bore you all with my nerdiness now but if any of you have an injury or an inkling that something’s off or just want to get stronger (because really, even if you’re injury-free, there are always ways to treat your body better), mention what you’d like more of in the comments below or shoot me an email!
And if you’re needing any treatment or fitness guidance, these are all my go-to’s below.
Chiropractor: Dr. Joanna MacDonald, Teamworks Health Clinic
Physiotherapy: Leslie Cuddington, Teamworks Health Clinic
RMT: Abby Janzen, Teamworks Health Clinic
Fitness Specialist: Kenny Muir
Barre Studio: The Dailey Method *if recovering from an injury, dealing with chronic pain or new to barre, recommend trying Dailey Basics, ELDOA and The Melt Method classes!
Photos by Alicia Fashionista