How to Handle Injuries
We all have been there. Doing something we love and all of a sudden we get hurt. Your doctor tells you it will take 4-6 weeks to heal. If you ski, dirt-bike, play basketball, practice Krav Maga, BJJ, wrestle, run or even yoga, the risk of injury is always there, threatening to kill your buzz.
Our hobbies can take their tolls, from muscle soreness to broken bones, from fancy bruises to torn ACLs to concussions. there are so many ways our bodies can get out of whack and it usually happens the exact moment we feel invincible and immortal.
So what do we do? Find a different hobby? Stop training? Accept our mortality? Not train for months and start from scratch?
Not necessarily. An injury can actually be the best thing that happened to your athletic lifestyle. Here are 5 things you should be doing while injured:
1. Get better at your sport
I remember when I was diagnosed with severely torn ligaments on both wrists I thought my Krav Maga and fitness lifestyle was done. But instead of stopping altogether and becoming a chubby accountant I decided to turn this into an opportunity to excel in other areas of my passion. I couldn’t strike which meant I had to make other weapons better. I began sharpening my kicks, elbows and footwork while working towards recovery. By the time my wrists healed the rest of my game has improved dramatically and actually made me a better athlete.
Broken Leg? Train your arms, core and balance.
Broken arm? Time to increase flexibility, range of motion and positioning.
Nasty bruise? Stop being a baby come to the gym
2. Recognize the effects on your mental state
Nothing hurts an active person more than being stationary. To me the realization I couldn’t do something hurt significantly more than the pain of the actual injury. This feeling can have a detrimental effect on your mood and confidence and can prevent you from ever doing the things you love most-again. Before getting back into training take a moment to appreciate your mental fortitude. Make an active and conscious decision to have this injury be only a set-back, a hurdle, a bump-in-the road. Know that an injury does not define you, only challenges you and believe that in the process of healing you will bounce back stronger than you were prior to it.
3. Make sure you have a path to healing
Our body has a passive ability to heal, however the process can be significantly shortened with an active plan. Reach out to the best professionals in your circle. Your coach (who probably have seen it before), your physician (make sure they are sports oriented doctors), your sports physical therapist and your own research. Read about your diagnosis, educate yourself, see who was able to beat it before you and how. To me the biggest game changer was being exposed to experts in myofascial release treatment. Once you plan how to heal – walk the walk. Strengthen the injured areas, regain your mobility and get back in training.
4. Be smarter than your ego
I have seen countless of athletes experiencing a debilitating injury and deciding the best therapy is to ignore it, suck it up and keep going. This is actually worse than doing nothing. If you put more strain on an already injured area you will make it worse. This will set you back longer and might actually push you past the horrible point of no return. Be smarter than that – focus your energy on proper healing and working around the injury without worsening it.
Being slightly less physical can give you the so needed time to nurture your brain. Any athletic field has a physical side as well as a spiritual/theoretical side. Take this time on the bench to know more about your sport. Its origins, philosophy and the different approaches to it. Learn about technological and scientific advancement that can make your experience that much better when you come back. (new snowboard designs, better fitting rash-guards, the latest in running shoe tech). By keeping yourself immersed in the concept of your sport it would be as If you didn’t take a break at all.