Danielle Kent running

Being a Beginner Again

Posted on Tuesday, August 9, 2016 by UVM Health Network - CVMC

‘This can’t be that hard, this can’t be that hard….’

Those are the words that echoed through my brain as I was running through a series of simple balance and strengthening exercises a few weeks ago with physical therapy. Let me back up for just a minute…

I am a speech language pathologist and also a fitness instructor. My world revolves around helping, motivating, and encouraging others, as well as taking great pride in my fitness. I relieve stress via running and instructing, two great areas of fulfillment and solitude. They are my outlet for decompression after a long working day, or taking a quick focus moment away from one of my favorite jobs (being a mom!).

You’ll begin to see why, about two months ago, my world entered a different spin pattern when I severely sprained my ankle doing an all too familiar jump box twist move in class. I felt strong, steady, and capable as I executed each movement with precision and focus. As I picked up speed, things still felt great.  It was only a split second later that I came over the bench and something was off. My landing was uneven, my balance just a second off, and before I knew it, my ankle had twisted and I was on the floor.

Although I have chronically weak ankles, my focus on cross training and weight training had made a noticeable difference in my overall coordination and strength over the last several years. My familiarity with ankle sprains immediately sent the message to my brain saying ‘this is not good.’

Fast forward several hours, a pair of crutches, a boot, ice, ibuprofen, and one confused toddler later (‘why mommy got a big boo boo?’) and sitting alone on the couch (I don’t ever really sit)…and I had a lot of time to think. I knew I was going to have to work hard in therapy, listen to my body, and be smart about recovery. I was lucky to quickly connect with physical therapy and have my ankle taped early (K-tape, an amazing product!) and recommendations made for early recovery.  

I was told to get into physical therapy as quickly as possible.

I was into therapy within five days of my sprain. The therapists helped to manage swelling and improve my range of motion and flexibility. I discovered that therapy was AMAZING for recovery. I have never had my ankle improve so rapidly after a sprain or injury, or the swelling back off so quickly.  Once the swelling was down, we focused on coordinating balance and flexibility with strength, something that I thought was my area of expertise.

Cue the thoughts of ‘This can’t be that hard.’

Each session was challenging for different reasons, but so incredibly informative. As an SLP I know a lot about anatomy and brain functioning, but I learned something new each session. It was incredible.  I went home with homework each week (functional tasks to improve overall functioning) and a new focus on where I was going.  Information was delivered to me at a pace that was just right, and in a way I could manage and translate to my own understanding.

Just in the last two weeks I have slowly started to get back to running. I introduced myself by starting the run-walk program, and then progressing to just running. Some runs I have those same thoughts ‘this can’t be that hard’ but I’m not afraid of things being hard at first. I’ve learned it’s okay to be a beginner again. 

Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on how to rehab ankle sprains.