For anyone who likes sport, training or general exercise there is always the possibility of picking up an injury of some kind. This doesn’t automatically mean that ‘exercise is bad for you’. Sometimes we can push ourselves harder than we might have done in the past and as a consequence injure our bodies. From time to time a freak accident happens that is out of our control.
As I write this article I have just come out the other side of (yet!) another injury, the latest debacle being a run-in with a Muntjac deer on my bike and subsequent broken collar bone! (No deer were hurt!) On the face of this it sounds humorous and I appreciate that, but it was actually a little bit painful, completely out of my control and most importantly put my own training plans on hold.
So what have I learnt from the last x8 weeks of inactivity and also the previous 20 years of serious and less serious injuries?
Address the problem
In many cases we know our bodies very well, and recognise the difference between a general ‘ache or pain’ and something that feels very different. This is when it is vital to do something about it…waiting and hoping something will go away isn’t a method I personally subscribe to. Conditions can be minor but if not diagnosed result in conversations such as – “I never got this problem addressed when I was younger and now I can’t…..” Be wise and seek professional advice, use your medical insurance if you are fortunate enough to have it!
Don’t Dwell in the Dark Places
In previous articles I have spoken about ‘endorphins’ and the benefits they provide us both physically and mentally in our daily lives, and I know that I need them in abundance to function effectively.
Delving a little deeper into this subject; if you have always been known as ‘the footballer’ or ‘the swimmer’, you can end up feeling like you are defined by your ability to do an activity. For me, this was when the ‘dark places’ were the worst, as you can consciously or sub-consciously place your identity in your particular skill. Personal self-worth or value can hit some real lows during this time.
Fortunately I have only had one very serious injury (Back discectomy) which put me out of action for 8 months. Before I was diagnosed I found myself in a week long residential training camp where I was unable to participate. For someone who loves sport, there couldn’t have been anywhere worse to be, just watching others do what you can’t do!
So how do you get through this and come out the other side?
Embrace the Rehab
Embracing the rehab was one of the most important ways to exit those dark places. Thinking logically, most rehab programmes are exercise based (box ticked!) so you are already on the path back to doing exercise. Think about it:
Each day you rehab, your time to full recovery is < the day before
Do exercises you wouldn’t normally have done…
Football, rugby or running might be your passion, so when you damage your ankle and can’t do those things, what’s the plan? Do you mope about and think that nothing else will compare to it or do you think creatively and find exercise which will keep you fit whilst you continue your recovery? I know people who have participated in Ironman events and have done huge chunks of run training on X-trainers to protect themselves. In my own circumstances, when I couldn’t play football, I swam, I rowed, I cycled all to help me get back as quickly as possible. Let’s open our minds to different options that can ultimately get you back on track.
Being injured is part of sport, but we can bounce back quicker than we expect on most occasions by preparing ourselves physically and mentally for the return journey.