How To Injure Yourself While Exercising In Four Easy Steps

I don’t love to exercise, but it finally got to the point where I had no choice. I wasn’t handling stress well and my blood pressure was high. I was getting uncomfortably fat, none of my clothes fit, and I was listless, stiff and sore. I was a chubby statue. A fatute if you will. 

So I put on my runners and started exercising 3-4 times a week at a gym called Orange Theory Fitness. I’ve been at it for nearly nine months so you’d think I’d be pretty skilled at it by now, right? Not so much. I still fall off equipment, drop things, and generally do exercises completely wrong. 

When I spot the coach heading toward us, I know she’s coming straight for me. Most likely to correct my technique or just to shake her head in bewilderment at my level of uncoordinatedness.

Despite all my klutz, outside of a few pulled muscles, I been physically okay. Until now. 

This month I was a walking (barely) talking ad for “How Not To Workout.” 

I pulled a groin muscle running on the treadmill.

That was injury number one.

Apparently I run like a rusty tin man. I’ve been told I need to bend my knees instead of my range of motion emanating solely from my hip sockets. Until I can figure out that situation, I’ve been power walking on the treadmill. At first it felt like a fail. As though power walking at 4.2 mph at a 12% incline is easy. It is not. 

In fact, I’ve noticed my heart rate gets higher and stays that way longer when I walk instead of run. And yes, I swivel my hips and pump my arms like a determined soldier marching off to battle, to the tune of Despacito. 


Also, I added some other embarrassing (but screw it, it works for me) arm moves to amp things up. During the slower portions of the walk I stick my arms out horizontally and rotate them in quick little circles. My tread neighbours sometimes give me the “wtf and don’t touch me weirdo” side-eye, but I persist nonetheless. Try rotating your arms, fast, repeatedly for two minutes without stopping and then try giving me your judgey horse eye. It burns I tell ya. 

Thanks to my sister-in-law and niece for introducing me to the Boho Beautiful You Tube channel. I love it. The workouts and meditations and vegan recipes are free and fantastic. Also, the creators are Canadian. 🙂 And this 5 minute arm workout is the worst. But in the best possible way. ??

Anyway, since switching from running to walking, my hip/groin pain has gone away so HIP HIP hooray to that.

Things were looking good. Until my bum cracked…

One day we were given a seven minute series of core exercises. I decided in my infinite wisdom (idiot) that I didn’t require a mat for such a short stint. I figured I had enough rump padding to forgo a foamy mat. But I didn’t factor in my protrusive tailbone. The same tailbone that when the hot water from my post workout shower trickled over it, exploded into flames. At first I thought thong friction was the culprit. But it turned out tailbone-to-floor rubbing was the cause of this raw bruisy sore on my butt.

That was injury number two. 

Then came the blister to rival all blisters. Mister. 

I showed up for class minus my socks. They had rolled out of my gym bag. There should be a sign that reads, “No shirt, no socks, no treadmill.” Because as you can imagine, sweaty runners are not only vile, they are very, very rubby. By the end of the treadmill portion of my class, my right heel was swiss cheese. 

The following class, the flimsy Dora the Explorer Bandaid covering my blister was no match for my brisk walking pace. ACDC “Thunder” came on and I was really booking it. 

When I felt the blood soaking through my sock I knew Dora had given up. 

That was injury number three. 

Then yesterday, despite my husband’s warnings, the day before I was scheduled to race a 5km mud run for charity, I went for an eaaassssyyyy workout. 

It was easy until I broke my neck. Well, I didn’t actually break it. Clearly. Since I’m typing. But it hurt. 

I was tired, and I wasn’t paying attention, so when it was time to do an exercise on an apparatus called an ab dolly (an oval disc with handles and wheels) my technique was all wrong. My sloppy execution caused me to hyper-extended my back. I knew it as soon as I did it. I felt a pop in my neck—near the vertebrae where your spine connects to the base of your skull. As I tried to stand, the pain was so intense that I lost my breath. 

I hobbled out of the class in the direction of home and an ice pack. I’d have hung my head in shame, but I couldn’t move my neck more than 2mm without stabbing pain. 

This was injury number four. *curtseys* 

I iced the area. My husband massaged it. I rubbed Tiger Balm and Icy Heat on it. I took some muscle relaxants. I iced it some more. And I tried to sleep. You don’t appreciate how much pressure there is on your neck until you lie on it. Your neck is a flimsy bridge between your head and your body. When the bridge is out, you’re gonna feel it. All night. 

So today was the Mudmoiselle race. I had signed up months ago. I made a commitment and the thought of missing it and letting down my team hurt nearly as much as my neck (actually, that’s totally not true. My neck hurt like a sonofabitch). I decided to take a hot shower and go to the race. Not to run, but to show my support and to cheer my team on. 

When I got there and looked around I spotted teams of women who had given up one of their last days of summer to race for a cause. Cancer. A cause too near to most of our hearts. 

They had left their families to participate. Some were older than me. Some were much more out of shape than me. By the looks of knee braces, some were also injured. And some looked to have/had cancer. 

I merely had a sore neck. 

My friend Shelley, who was not only on my team, but who also organized the race, assured me that running was off the table. The terrain was too rocky. It was a walk. 

So I did. 

And though I skipped the crawling and the climbing, I walked the 5km, while keeping my head and neck stable. There was little pain. But lots of gain. 

When I got home to my family, my husband hugged me (after my shower because I stunk like poopy sulphur dead bug snake skin mud) and said he was proud of me for sending such a positive message to our kids—they saw how much pain I was in, but they also saw me honour a commitment. 

Well, that’s really nice. I’d gladly take the kudos, but I didn’t do it for them. That was a sideways inadvertent parenting bonus win I guess. 

To be totally honest, I simply can’t stand the way I feel when I bail on someone else or even myself. My neck was sore but it would heal and I could go at my own pace. 

And there are worse things than an hour of hiking in the woods, through meadows, and over streams with like-minded friends who want nothing more than to see cancer GONE sooner rather than later. 

I’m glad I raced. 

Mind you, in the twenty minutes it’s taken to type this, my neck has stiffened to the point where I can’t move my left shoulder. Sleeping on ol’ neck bridge tonight is guaranteed to be all kinds of whimpering. 

– cracks open box of muscle relaxants and jar of tiger balm – 

Huge thanks to the friends and family who donated to my race today. I appreciate it and YOU so much. 

And thank you to Shelley Frank, my awesome friend who fights cancer for a living. You’re a good person. 

And thank you to my husband who doesn’t know it yet, but who will be rubbing my neck and shoulders on repeat for the next 2-4 days. 


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