Recovering from Injury
There are benefits to getting older. Clarity. Wisdom. A deeper understanding of the importance of family. AARP Senior Discounts.
There can be a downside to aging as well, particularly on the physical side as Ifbb Figure Pro Kim Blankenship discovered while training this summer for a show.
“It’s true what they say, the older you get the slower you heal,” Kim says, laughing. After an unusual pain began in her lower leg this summer, Kim went to the doctor and discovered that she had somehow picked up a stress fracture to her femur.
“I honestly don’t know how I got it,” Kim says. “But it got more painful as it went along and for a few weeks I couldn’t do any work at all on my lower body.”
For the average person, not being able to work out your lower body would be something of an inconvenience. For an Ifbb Pro neck deep in the brutal diet and exercise paradigm of prepping for a show, it was a potentially career altering injury.
Quitting was never an option. Postponing her show stayed on the table for a brief time but in the end Kim decided to forge ahead and see if she couldn’t find a way to alter some of her favorite leg moves to accommodate the injury and to keep her legs in the shape she would need to do well at a pro fitness competition.
“The doctor told me to go by the old rule: if it hurts stop doing it,” Kim says. “So I started switching out to different moves and different, lighter weights when the pain flared up.” Some favorite exercises she adapted, by doing fewer reps or using lighter weights. Some favorite exercises she had to stop doing entirely.
“For instance I still can’t run sprints and stadium steps which I used to love doing to lean out before a show. Lunges can be hard. Sometimes lunges press my kneecap into the injured area at the top of my femur and it is excruciating! Sometimes I can lunge and it doesn’t hurt I just have to take it day by day.”
In addition to encouraging her to stay active, Kim’s doctor did her one more favor, although she didn’t know it at the time. “They didn’t put me in a leg brace because they said it would actually weaken my muscles.”
In the end Kim feels that not being confined to a leg brace was a positive and that she was able to experiment with different weights and movements that she might not have been able to try with a brace on.
In addition to directly affecting muscle growth and definition, the injury strongly affected her ability to do cardio. “I couldn’t do any running,” she says. “Even walking down an incline would start to hurt. I have finally settled on walking on a slight incline on a treadmill. It’s not as fun as stadium sprints but it’s effective in helping me burn fat and in maintaining muscle mass in my legs.”
The modifications worked. Kim recently placed second in the 50 Plus Division and 13th in Open figure at the Ifbb Florida Victory Pro in Boca Raton. She will continue training with and around her injury as it continues to heal and she heads in to the off season.
“Injuries can happen to anyone,” Kim says in closing. “The older you get the longer it takes to heal, so, yeah, slower to heal, slower to everything.
“But to me being fit should be a way of life, not just getting ready for a show. I never thought it would be easy but I was raised with the belief that anything worth having is worth doing the work it takes to get it and, for me, a fit and healthy lifestyle is worth everything it takes.”
Just remember to take it slow when your body tells you to. Oh, and Wednesdays at the Blue Plate Cafe, ten percent off for senior citizens, their chicken salad sandwich is amazing.
KIM’S LEG WORKOUTS
Throughout her recovery, Kim has maintained a rigorous workout schedule including hitting legs twice a week (once her doctor had given her the okay).
She tends to split the leg workouts front and back, that is, workout one targets the quads and the second is aimed more toward her hamstrings and glutes.
“I need more definition where the glutes tie in to the hamstring,” Kim says. She feels that extra work for a problem muscle group is the best approach and so, even on her non leg days, Kim tends to do at least a few sets, at lighter weights, that target her glutes.
A typical set list for her two ‘regular’ leg days, goes something like this:
DAY ONE – QUADS
Warm up: Walking lunges around the gym, always depending on how her injured leg is feeling.
Squats: 3 sets of 15 reps each. Start with 25 lbs. per side (of the bar) and add 5 lbs. per side each set.
Leg Extensions: Here she breaks up her normal 3 sets of 15 reps. She starts with 80 lbs. on the machines and adds 5 lbs. per set, but the sets include 10 reps toes in, 10 reps toes out, ten reps toes straight. “This will absolutely set your quads on fire!” Kim says.
Leg curls: with curls Kim gets back to 3 sets of 15 reps each with one small hitch. The first set is bilateral (using both legs) with 80 lbs. on the machines. The second and third sets she does one leg at a time, with 40 pounds and then 50 lbs. on the machine.
Smith Machine Good Mornings: 3 sets of 15. Start with 5 lbs. per side and add 5 lbs. for each new set.
DAY TWO – GLUTES & HAMSTRINGS
Again she usually warms up with lunges depending on how her leg feels.
Then, working off a low step or box, 3 sets of fifteen reps, step back lunge immediately in to a side lunge. First set body weight only, second and third sets holding 15 lb. Dumbbells.
Bulgarian Split Squats. 3 sets 15 reps, all done holding 15 lb. Dumbbells.
Cable Sumo Squats: 3 sets of 15 reps. 100 lbs. First set. Add 10 pounds each succeeding set.
Cable Kickbacks: 3 sets of 15 reps. 40 lbs. first set, 50 lbs. For the last two sets.
Hip Thrusts. 3 sets of 15 reps. 100 lbs. Per set.
Kim is quick to point out that these are general outlines of her workouts and that she is liable to add kettlebell swings or deadlifts or any number of different moves at any time.R