It’s almost impossible to imagine a life in sport and fitness that does not, at some point, involve an unfortunately timed injury.
Although the feeling of being injured is quite objectively a bad one, the experience provides us with a unique opportunity to return to sport with a skill set and mindset that we rarely gain from other periods of “time off”.
Here are a few ways to thrive while you recover:
Get better at something else
From a purely physical perspective, our injuries provide us an opportunity to train a new or neglected aspect of our sport (or some other activity we love!).
Climbers with injured fingers can train mobility and power limitations in the legs and hips. Runners with shin splints can build resilience in their joints and bones with a little bit of weightlifting. Gymnasts with back injuries can improve their performance and consistency at competitions with the practice of psychological techniques such as imagery/visualization.
There is always something else you can do to get better at the sport you love. Use the constraints created by your injury to uncover what it is.
Learn how to prevent future injuries
Recurring injuries (such as the ankle we always sprain or a shoulder often tweaked) can tell us an important story about our movement habits and tendencies. If this is the third time you have pulled your groin, it’s quite likely that your current movement strategies could use some evaluation.
Find a knowledgeable movement specialist (such as a personal trainer or physical therapist) who can work with you to address your body’s unique habits. Take the time during your recovery to focus on the simple and the subtle; making changes here is critical for longevity and gives you practice in the art of adaptability.
Face adversity with grace
The more we practice with a mindful self-awareness, the better we get. The way we deal with sport and fitness injuries can tell us a lot about how we handle adversity in life as a whole. If we approach our injury as an opportunity to practice patience, forgiveness, and self-awareness during times of hardship, it primes us to act (and react) with peace and grace during other challenging moments of our lives.
As many of you know, I strive to equip my clients with the tools and skills needed to prevent injury before it happens (and furthermore, to remedy the underlying causes of chronic injury).
Yet it is also a reality that many of us thrive at the edge of our ability. The excitement, joy, and impossible-to-describe things we experience while pushing our limits feels well-worth the risk it carries.
Lucky for us, when we accidentally push a little too far, we simply create the space to find other ways to thrive.