Have you ever given up the sport you love because the physical toll has become too much? In September 2009 I tweaked my knee and I thought I would have to give up soccer permanently. I took about 4 months off of soccer, running, and cross training.
Prior to my injury, I was working out 3x per week with a trainer. I was the strongest I had ever been and certainly the most fit. After about 2 years I decided I could work out on my own. I signed up for a gym membership and after about 1 month I fell off the wagon. Two months later, soccer season started up and I figured I could jump right in as normal. Wrong. In the second game of the season I tweaked my knee and by the third game I was limping around. I realized that all the work I had done to stay fit and strong was what kept me from getting injured sooner.
I got an MRI and was able to see an orthopaedic surgeon who delivered the good news: I didn’t have to give up soccer or running, but I needed to do physical therapy to strengthen certain muscles. I worked with Sandra Knudsen, a physical therapist over at NM Orthopaedics, and she was fantastic. She understood my problem, my fear of injuring it worse, my desire to continue with the sports that I loved, and how to get my legs back in working order. She explained how the muscles and ligaments around my knees worked and what I needed to do to maintain them. “Maintenance!” – that thing you have to do if you want to keep playing strenuous sports as you age.
Luckily for me, I had not seriously damaged my knee. After that 4 month break and several weeks of physical therapy (including an awesome boot camp at XPAC Fit with Marsha Gonzales), I ran a half marathon and felt great. Yes, my muscles ached and my knees were sort of swollen. But I took care of them with elevation, stretching, massage, heat, and ice. Ever since, I constantly remind myself that if I want to keep playing soccer, tennis, and running I absolutely must maintain my fitness (strength, cardio, and not least of all, flexibility).
That experience was a huge wake-up call. I’ve also scaled back my intensity on the soccer field. I satisfy my competitive drive in other ways – I push myself in spin class, run races, and now I’m coaching soccer too. This way I get to participate in the team sport that I’ve always loved without trashing my joints.
Have you had to give up something you love because your body couldn’t take it anymore? How did you cope with it?