Coping With Injuries
In order to find “the limit,” you have to step over it. Most of the time it is as simple as “blowing up” due to muscle failure or nutritional meltdown, but sometimes stepping over “the limit” sidelines us with an injury. I have found that injury line many times and sometimes it is a simple month of rest and other times it is a yearlong process.
There are a lot of factors that make a successful comeback, the first and most important is your attitude toward being injured. It sucks being in pain and not being able to do what you love (and for some it is what provides for their family). Yet, moping around is only putting more negative stress on the body, and the body needs positive energy to heal. Below is what has become my methodical approach to recovery and what I try to focus on, while limiting my attention to what I can’t or want to be doing):
#1) Shut it down – When I get injured, I shut everything down cold turkey. As athletes we push our bodies to the absolute limit and when something breaks we need to stop. From years of experience I know that if one thing breaks, there was likely something else that was about to break. So let’s get everything healthy.
#2) Expert Attention – Get into a doctor and get images (X-Rays, MRI’s) of the injury. If there is nothing glaring then schedule an appointment with an orthopedic doctor, and bring your images and a list of your questions. If they recommend surgery get multiple opinions and find the best doctor you can get, this is your body not a car or computer.
#3) Rest – This is often the most painful process, but one that has huge benefits. For me I execute my often neglected to-do list. I usually start with a maintenance marathon of my equipment. I glue any holes in my wetsuits, true bike wheels, lube bearings & chain, and clean & wax the bike frame. Next I start that long list of honey-do’s that builds up during training. I live on my shop chair with castor wheels. It is also important to set aside time for rest, do something that you would never do, like watch a TV series or read a book. I feel that I am busier when I am not training that when I am training. Most importantly, get some sleep.
#4) Recovery – Most injuries have a comeback road that involves therapy. Be honest with the therapist and the Doctor about your goals. Show the therapist that you are determined to get healthy by listening to them and asking questions about what you can and cannot do. Do your exercises and stretching that they ask you to do at home. Communication is important in the recovery process. This is the time where you “do what’s possible” every day.
#5) Building back – Physical Therapist are trained to get you back to phase 3 which is resuming everyday life. If you jump back into training, you are jumping from phase 3 (1-Reaction, 2-Remodeling, 3- Regeneration) to phase 5 (Endurance, Intensity, & Agility). It is important to continue to communicate with your therapist and coach about your training plan so you don’t make this jump too soon and then reinjure yourself. Most of the time I have my coaches talk to the therapist so all parties are on the same page. I usually do 1 to 2 months of base training before I start building in high intensity training.
Again the whole time I am looking forward and asking questions of “what can I do” and then listening. I make sure to write them down because too many times I have found myself getting home with more questions than I went to the appointment with. When they are written down, all questions get answered.
Comeback Mantra –
INCH BY INCH IS A SINCH. YARD BY YARD IS HARD.
Champion is Earned,
PS – Educate yourself using the internet, but do not confuse your Google search for a doctor’s expertise!