As an athlete chances are you have been injured more than once throughout your triathlon career. Some athletes handle being sidelined better than others. We all want to recover and return to doing what we love as soon as possible. Before you do anything you will regret, take your time to get back on your feet. Strive to stay healthy for the long term.
Returning from an injury is as much a mental game as a physical one. There are general stages we pass through on the road back to recovery.
In this phase an athlete grieves and feels sympathy. The injury is new and everyone notices and offers kind words. An athlete can feel a loss of identity and isolation. They are no longer who they thought they once were.
I have personally been working through a more recent injury. I actually started this blog as I was waiting at the hospital for X-rays. The initial shock of the injury set in quick, it was followed very quickly with thoughts of what am I going to do. I felt lost without my training.
Transitioning to movement
The rawness of the injury has passed and it’s not acknowledged any more. You are healing. But you need to be patient. Re-injury is high as the healing process is still on going.
I signed up to race the 10 Mile Tri but my injury was not going to heal in time. I decided to attend anyway to cheer on the athletes. Walking into the venue I was clouded with feelings that took me off guard. Initially I was disappointed that I was not participating. As athletes checked in, I sat back and took in the venue and honestly felt a bit sad. I was finally off crutches so my mobility was better so I could assist and watch the racers but I wasn’t going to be participating.
As the morning progressed to the race start, my feelings changed. It was inspiring to watch the racers and share in their experiences. I was glad to have my feet to stand on again and it reinforced my motivation to take this injury slowly. My motivation is to be along side them racing next year.
Progression back to training
This is from basic movement to training.
Athletes remember who they were and are often excited. There is a high risk phase of re injury or other injures occurring. We need to rein in the excitement and gradually get back to where we left off. Fitness feels off to start, time is needed to build back.
As I was feeling better I started with swimming. I opted to pull and flip turn with one foot to start, thinking I was ready. I quickly discovered the pressure of the water on my foot created soreness so I had to stop flip turning. As I settled in I realized I had lost conditioning. My new focus was short slow swims so I wouldn’t all of a sudden develop shoulder injuries.
I was excited to feel movement again but had to continually remind myself this was not going to be a quick fix.
Full recovery is reached and new levels of fitness are on the horizon. Your body is full of energy and mentally ready to take on a full training load. Best performance levels are attainable.
We have to watch what “full recovery” really means. Although I am feeling better and one more buckle on my bike shoe is fastened, I am not 100%. Mentally the excitement is present but the physical injury still exists. I am focusing on the gains I feel everyday and excited to build to my race season.
As we pass through each phase we need to focus on what we CAN do not what we CAN’T.
I started a strength program to maximize performance potential as I recover. My goal is to become more athletically aware and have a better overall understanding of my body as I build back.
The process can be slow and drag on. Lets make it a positive one by setting ourselves up for success after injury.
For the love of sport