Coping with Injury
Injury can be taxing physically and emotionally. We all know it is a part of the game when we do sport,. Injuries happen. Here are a few tips to help you handle injury a little better when they pop up on you.
Stop waiting for it to feel the same as it did before. Accept it’s never going to be exactly the same again. Coming to this acceptance is the first step to getting better. The longer you sit on the couch waiting, the further behind you are. Deal with what’s in front of you and carry on with what you’ve got.
Be proactive in rebuilding back. How you come back is 100% up to you. I see athletes go one of two ways here: they either go overboard on rehab, causing more harm and not allowing the injury the time required to settle down, OR I see athletes get in a depressed slump and do nothing at all to help themselves get better.
Watch your weight. It’s likely for a period of time that things will be different in your day-to-day activity level. This is when I see a lot of people throw in the towel and cave to poor eating habits. They stack on a ton of weight. This doesn't help the injury heal quickly, nor does it make the process of getting back any easier as you heal. Adjust your nutrition to focus on healing and maintain your current weight. Nutrition plays a large role in recovery. Eat to heal!
Surround yourself with people who don’t second guess what you are doing. There are always going to be a ton of people who are going to tell you that what you are doing is wrong and have another solution. Everyone will have advice on how you should be doing things. If you have a solid plan that is proactive, stick with it. Surround yourself with a team that supports you and helps keep you on track.
Expect there will be some pains coming back. Coming back from injury isn’t completely pain free. Of course you are not looking for the injury to get worse, but, for example, if you had surgery or a major injury, the rehab and retraining will result in some normal pains as you come back. Regaining range of motion, lost strength and function can be uncomfortable. Be willing to do things at a slow enough pace to keep you under any pain threshold. I've had 2:50 Ironman marathon guys walk for their run sessions when coming back from injuries.
Be willing to retrain things gradually. Be patient with the process back. You are going to need to retrain the details. A huge mistake I see is people going from injured to expecting to go right back to full normal activity. There is a rebuilding process that requires attending to each detail: range of motion, stability, firing pattern, strength, and so on. Details are important!
Stop being scared of the “What ifs?” It can be tough mentally. What if I tear it again? Will it hold up? Can I really do this again? At some point, you need to trust and decide. I look at it like this: I can chose to sit on the couch and those “What ifs?” will be safe and secure, or I can live the life I love, trust I pay attention to detail, and I’ll deal with the “What ifs?” when they come. I’d rather live the life I love than die bored and scared.
Don’t always listen to the “rules.” If every time someone told me, “You’ll never do this again,” I wouldn’t have half the experiences I do in my life. Not all rules apply to every situation. Each situation is unique. If someone doesn’t know the answer, keep looking!
Injuries come and go. How you deal with them will determine the outcome of the athlete you will become. Managing injuries is never easy, but neither is anything worth fighting for.