Last weekend, about two hours into a trail clearing frenzy using a swing blade, I misfired and swung the blade directly into the inside of my left ankle. The skin split right open and the pain was intense. Three stitches later my ankle swelled to the size of a grapefruit and I could not step down on my foot. Is it strange that what immediately goes through my head is, ok, what can I do with this? Maybe, but also essential to keeping my goals where they are and doing my best to achieve them.
Getting hurt is no fun. Injuries come in all kinds of ways, from dumb landscaping mishaps, to overuse, to incorrect movements, to bad shoes.
Prevention is key, but what to do if you find yourself in the unlucky position of a game stopping injury?
1. Get professional attention. It is faster to schedule a quick visit to a PT or a doctor for confirmation than to try continuing to train, which may be extending or worsening the problem.
2. Be creative. Once you’ve determined the issue, figure out what you CAN do while it is healing. Work AROUND the injury. I am a specialist in this department. After breaking an arm in a snowboarding accident, my very understanding physician cut ‘sweat holes’ in my cast so the moisture could drip out while I was killing it on the trainer. Don’t take ‘do nothing’ as an answer. You can almost always do something!
3. Be badass. If you have a foot injury that means you can’t run, you may be able to win the spin class down the street, become super flexible with a rock hard core in yoga class, or step up a lane in masters swim group.
4. Think positive! Every injury is an OPPORTUNITY! That’s right people! An injury means change. Change can be good. Become better while you are injured. Say to yourself, what am I going to get out of this injury? I’m going to get stronger.
5. Adapt. OK, sometimes with all of the work and creativity and strength you still can’t toe the line at your event. It’s a drag, but it happens. Move on! There are more races. Get on Google and start searching! Reconfigure your calendar and know that you’ll get there.
6. Enlist help. A good coach can help you through this time period. They are often masters of developing different pathways for athletes. No coach? Tap your friends. Join a group that is doing things you can do too. Adjust your world.
7. Remember. You’ll be back, stronger, fitter, and fired up!