Is it the Left Side Improving or is it the Right Side Declining?

While some of the other short cuts posted so far may be humorous and amusing, I find this one hard to laugh at. In fact, it straight out hurts. Time saving may be a worthwhile pursuit but sometimes taking the quick way actually results in short cutting life itself.

This realization hit me hard during my workout this morning. While I have pretty much fully recovered from my left knee surgery well over a year ago, the left leg is still not quite as strong or as big as the right leg. Even though I’m back at sports and doing most activities without restraints, I still have to remind myself to put some extra work on my left side in the weight room so it can eventually catch up, and I can be more balanced with less compensation overall. This, of course, will improve overall performance, health, and reduce risk of further injury.

It’s been a long, arduous process. Often, while in the middle of a set, I hear myself saying out loud “Come on Left!” to give myself some extra motivation and a reminder to focus in on the weakness. No doubt, after all this time, the left has gained in both strength and size. However, it seems that no matter how hard I work, it’s still trailing behind my dominant right. Frustration started to set in and I found myself taking a short cut. In essence, I lowered the bar.

The right side was already doing less reps than the left, but now these reps lost their quality as well. I was almost going through the motions and even caught myself saying just before commencing a set on the right: “Okay, now for just a few quick token reps on the right.” It’s almost as if I’m trying to weaken my right side to make it easier for my left side to catch up! This is sort of like saying one side won because the other side purposely gave up and allowed it.

This short cut is a real punch in the gut for me and a wake up call. It offers a very temporary easy victory, but these kind of shallow victories hurt more than losing in an honest and real fight. Come on left! The right side is not going to pretend anymore.

-Patrick Law



Filed under Short Cuts, Sports and Fitness

4 responses to “Is it the Left Side Improving or is it the Right Side Declining?

  1. Zal

    Kudos to you Pat, for continuing to be so dedicated on strengthening your knee. Although I recently suffered a knee sprain, it’s peanuts compared to what you went through.

    I’d like to get your thougths also on your mental aspect of recovery. I’ve heard that often it’s the mental strain and worry of the injury can cause even more “pain” than the physical ramifications.

    How did you overcome? Which did you find harder to deal with and how did you cope accordingly? Is the mind more powerful than the body?

    As you know, many years ago when I was quite out of shape, I had serious back problems. Fortunately, due to my weight loss and conditioning, my back pain is now a thing of the past. However, dealing with it back then was truly a mental and physical chore.

  2. Zal,
    Thanks for the compliments…I think you make it sound like I’m tougher than I really am. Careful with calling a sprain, “just a sprain”, or referring it as “peanuts.” Take some time off and maybe do some non-high impact stuff for awhile.

    Mentally? Yeh..that’s tough cause you so much want to train and play, but you have to modify the approach or adapt to the current situation. I find what helps is seeing it as an opportunity to work on weaknesses or do exercises that I normally wouldn’t do if completely healthy.

    By going through the physio experience, I learned so much from my therapist, and other patients, and just pick their brains on so much stuff. When healthy, we tend to take for granted a lot, and ignore weak points cause are strengths can dominate and cover it up. But when injured, you are forced to rehab, strengthen certain areas to prevent the injury from happening again, and make yourself more balanced. You can also learn more variety of exercises that keep you mentally sharp.

    Hope that helps..and wish you an invigorating recovery from your injury….

  3. As a person who had a broken left ankle and cast for 4 months last summer, a surgery on the right ankle and cast for 4 months the summer before and multiple sclerosis that makes healing three times harder I will concur on the mental aspects of healing. It is important to keep that positive attitude, but sometimes it is tough. Last year when I got dumped off my horse and broke my ankle I thought…oh, no…here we go again…due to my m.s. I can’t balance on crutches so I was in a wheelchair for months…so, I said, “Okay, old girl, have a five minute pity party and get on with it.” Sometimes a good cry is the best medicine…if it is short…I am now walking on flat surfaces for 40 minutes on good days and thank the Lord each day to be walking at all! Small steps can take you a long way. Keep up the good work, guys!

  4. Sheri,
    Your experiences really help us put things in perspective. Your optimism is amazing and certainly your words are inspiration and will make me consider deeply and remind me to be grateful every time I’m on the verge of complaining.

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