So as part of our job as exercise physiologists we work really hard to try and keep athletes injury free. This comes in many forms, specifically education around recovery strategies, injury prevention training and strength and conditioning. However, sometimes things just happen, and when they do it’s important to remember that this is not the universe spiting you. It’s usually an accumulation of variables. At the time, each of these variables seem uniquely unlinked but as you start to process these in hindsight (the god of all reflection) you start to see how you managed to get that injury.
So today I thought it prudent to talk about the toughest part of being an athlete… being injured. As I am injured at the moment, most of what I am about to say really rings true, I can honestly say I am speaking from experience. So for all those athletes out there who are going through injuries, this is my 5 point guide to surviving!
(1) YOU ARE NOT DEAD!
One of the hardest parts of being injured for an athlete is the inability to do what they love, mainly training for their chosen sport. What I have learnt over the last 6 weeks is that this is a great opportunity to find the joy in other areas of your life. Although nothing will fill the void of training for what you love, sometimes you may find a variety of new things that bring you joy. I am a big believer in everything happening for a reason, so I have taken this time out to find balance in my life. Who knows what that means for you, but for me I started a range of new activities that I will continue once I am back jumping at my best!
(2) BE IN EACH DAY!
One of the things I have really struggled with is pre-planning and forethought. ‘When I get back to training I’ll do this…’ The key to surviving injury is to remind yourself that you can only perform with the skills and capacity you have on that day in that moment. If that means 60min in the pool is what I can do, then I will do that will all the gusto I can! Thinking too far ahead at the road back can become overwhelming, so best to do what you can in each day and focus on doing that with all your energy!
(3) SEE POSITIVES IN NEGATIVES
Something that my newfound skills in improvisation acting has taught me is that sometimes when life throws something at you, all you can do is put a smile on your face and just go with it! I am not saying this is easy, trust me I have had my fair share of moping moments. However, this doesn’t help anyone, least of all you! Take the time to be sad and process the fact you are injured but remind yourself that out of something bad can always come something good. For me I have really taken this time to rekindle my love for the sport. I have never been so excited to get back to jumping. Seeing the positives really helps remind you that although it may feel like it, the world is not collapsing around you and the sun will come up tomorrow! Oh, and let’s be honest it will probably be a cracker of a sunrise so get out of bed and enjoy it!
(4) SURROUND YOURSELF WITH THE RIGHT PEOPLE
Injury is more mentally taxing than anything else! You are constantly reminded of how much you can’t do things you really want to! So, it’s important to really lean on your team in these periods. These are the people who remind you how awesome you are and importantly how you don’t forget how to run, jump, play cricket and do backflips in 6 weeks. These are the same people who remind you to get up off the couch and go and watch the sunset rather than watching repeats of pole vault meets over and over again. Injury is not easy, don’t feel like you have to do it on your own, lean on your team because even in the moments when you don’t love yourself, they will remind you to embrace your awesomeness.
(5) TRAIN LIKE A DEMON!
This one is my favourite, although you can’t do what you love, you can do a multitude of other things that are just as hard, maybe even harder. You may even surprise yourself and find something you really love! If I’m honest, I haven’t found something amazing, turns out bike and swimming is not my cup of tea but I challenge anyone to enjoy an hour on the bike as a runner! In saying that though, at least the weather is good for swimming, this is how you take the positives. 😊 Everything you do today, every experience, every injury is just making you a better athlete. When you are injured you are building mental resilience, so go hard, do the right things and you will be back better than ever in no time!
Shout out to all my awesome athlete friends who are currently injured, can’t wait to see everyone back on the track!
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By Lisa Campbell
Australian National Champion 2019
Commonwealth Games Representative 2018
Accredited Exercise Physiologist
World Cup Representative 2018
Oceania Representative 2019