How I Try to Stay Out of Trouble While Exercising (Part 2)

My middle child, my son, seemed to be the one around each time I had a fall. He had to rush some 90 miles when I landed in the hospital after my big bike crash. So it was understandable that he said, “Please, please, don’t get back on that bike.”

I took his plea literally. I didn’t get back on THAT bike – it got quarantined at the house of the friend who was riding with me – but I did get back on ANOTHER bike. I loved the feeling of riding so much that I wasn’t ready to give it up.

Not ready to give up biking

I got a so-called “step-through bike,” which I jokingly called my granny bike. These have a low or absent top tube or crossbar and were originally made so women could wear a dress while riding.

The advantage was that I could get off more easily and stop more easily in case of an emergency. You see these bikes around a lot these days and they’re not really granny bikes.

You might think this would keep me out of trouble, but no. I was riding along a bike path with my boyfriend on a trip to Cape Cod and fell off when I stopped to get off at a stop sign. My toe caught in the crook of the bar. I lost my balance. I landed on my side. The front brake up on the handlebar cut into my shin. This misadventure earned me a trip to urgent care and a dozen stitches.

What went wrong?

In one way, it was a fluke accident. In another way, it was because I wasn’t paying attention. We had stopped in the town where my high school boyfriend’s family had a summer house. I was daydreaming about our time there. If I had focused more on the here and now, maybe that wouldn’t have happened.

Also, maybe I hadn’t stretched enough. If I had, maybe my leg would have been higher away from the frame. Ever since then, when biking, I have stretched first, so that I can get on and off without trouble. I have tried to stay more focused. And I tip the bike really far on its side when getting on.

Watching where I’m going has also kept me out of trouble while running. That, and trying to pick my feet up more. NOT watching where I was going, and NOT lifting my feet, led to a big crash when I ran right into a root while going around a lake near me. And I was just hitting my stride...

Learning to prepare for exercise

I stretch a little before, and a lot after, running and tennis. When running for a ball in tennis, if I have stretched enough, I feel that my movements are more fluid. Also, I insist on warming up. Some people like to hit a few balls and start playing, but I just can’t do that. Without warming up, you’re more prone to injuries.

In our regular foursome, two women like to play more quickly than I want to. So the other member of the group meets me 15 minutes early. I’ve heard some people say not to stretch when you’re cold, but I’m not going to stop a tennis match or a run to stretch. So I do a “light” stretch. I stretch more afterward, counting to 20 for each stretch.

Yoga helps with my flexibility. I’m not very flexible, and if I don’t do yoga, it is worse. In addition to the physical benefits, I love how yoga calms me down. It’s not always easy peasy. But at least if I am holding a pose that is harder than I would like and am thinking “when will this be over,” I’m not stuck in the worry cycle about my health. If I need a wall for balance, I remind myself that the wall is my friend.

Finally, if my neuropathy acts up while I’m exercising, I try hard to focus on something else. That is how I came up with the “name game” while running. A sense of humor also comes in handy.

Read Part 1 of this series where Ronni describes how exercise has helped her to feel better.

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