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Get Moving: Getting back out there after surgery

by Maria Holee | May 10, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Maria Holee


The only time you are not growing is when you become complacent with your stillness. How do you begin though? You make a plan and add action.

This one is a shout out to every single person who has had a surgery or "setback" of some sort -- a knee replacement, hip replacement, shoulder or back surgery, any physical challenge that may have to make you slow down and try to learn to enjoy the rocky road.

Here I lie 11.5 months post posterior hip replacement -- where they strap you to the table to turn you upside down to cut out the remaining decayed or injured ball and socket joint and replace it with some beautiful titanium and ceramic. Here is to all those going through the first week, first month, first six months, first year post operations who had to start over from ground zero -- the one's who said, "OK, fine, but I am not done yet;" those who said yes to their physical therapy, even though it was not fun or easy, and was often painful; those who may be in their third or fourth surgery.

No one but you will get to make the decision to overcome those first days of mental fortitude not getting to do the things you normally do by yourself, which may include going to the bathroom, showering, walking without assistance or sleeping with quality. And then how about the number of leg raises, lateral, forward and backwards; unilateral calf raises and lowering; or the number of glute bridges, butt clenches, clamshells, hip circles and knee raises; walking for one minute, then two minutes, then 200 meters to a half a mile or more? This is done over hours, days, weeks and months or even into years!

To maintain this recovery, the journey of building strength in range of motion never stops. It's a phrase you have likely heard more than once: No house is built in a day. Also, the foundation may have breaks or setbacks and need to be reconstructed to further build the foundation. No one can do this for you, but you can find support. It is your responsibility to find support. Find a nutrition or health coach or a mentor who has experience and has been there and done that.

I write this 11.5 months after my third hip surgery. I participated in a Masters CrossFit competition at the end of April. It involved barbells, a pull-up rig, jump rope, boxes and a community that lifted my soul into a world of "yes you can" vs. "don't do that." This was not done in one day. I made a commitment to myself more than nine months ago that I would not let this physical surgery put me in the trenches, but I would rise to climb the tallest mountain.

Let's talk about another person I have had the pleasure to get to know: Jincy, a longtime Jefferson City CrossFit family member who had back surgery involving a cage placement between Lumbar 5 and Sacral joint S1 vertebrae for fusion, at the age of 45 in May 2021. She was in a brace for eight weeks after surgery and allowed only to walk. That is exactly what she did. She tried to walk multiple times a day, even getting to where she would make sure to walk every hour on the hour -- even if it was just around her circle driveway. That sounds kind of boring, but the discipline of the not exciting work makes the future journey worth it. With restrictions, she was allowed to start working out again in September. She went back to CrossFit two to three days a week starting very slowly and modifying all movements. She started back to four to five days a week in January. She had a year checkup in April and passed with flying colors. Bone has been growing and healing.

She had set goals to do something wonderful for herself a year after her back surgery. She just finished a hiking vacation, which included a strenuous hike to Angel's Landing in Zion National Park, an of elevation of 5,990 feet. Then, she completed a horseshoe bend obstacle course race in Arizona This involved tire flips, sandbag carries and rope climbs. For those familiar with a CrossFit Gym, this sounds quite like the Workout of the Day.

She said she believes CrossFit prepared her prior to surgery and helped healing and recovery after surgery. After surgery, getting back to working out has helped with bone growth, flexibility, stability and movement. There is the worry about going too fast after surgery. That is why it's beneficial to get a coach who is experienced and knowledgeable and knows to pull back the reigns when needed. Recovery starts with day one and doesn't ever stop.

Her story reminds me of the numerous new mothers at our gym. They were in CrossFit prior to, during and after pregnancy preparing their body every step of the way. It is inspiring to know these people who go through what many see as a set back and make it one of their most impactful experiences in their lives.

It's beautiful to see what some may find a handicap to actually be the strongest piece of armor they wear as they step in front of the next endeavor.

So, this one is written for the ones who have the surgeries, the injuries, the physical and mental challenges -- you can do it because we have seen it over and over again. Just take that step. One step and then another, until you sit on the other side of your next walk, 5K, hike, bike ride, new baby or triathlon. It is your responsibility, and you have a world waiting to cheer you on.

Maria Holee and her husband, Jake Holee, own Jefferson City CrossFit, established in 2012. She is a Level 2 CrossFit Trainer, has conducted multiple seminars in weightlifting, was nominated for Zonta Women of Achievement in 2018, was fifth in nation in the 2016 U.S. Strongman, and is trained in CrossFit Gymnastics.


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