At the start of my junior year in high school I tore my A.C.L, M.C.L, and meniscus in my left knee. That season-ending damage was done while warming up for the first pep rally of the year. You see, I grew up in Texas where football is life and everything else is supplemental. I was head cheerleader and played soccer. I’d been to every high school football game as far as I could remember. I cheered and flipped around at every game since freshman year. The moment I heard the infamous pop in my knee I thought, “Game over.”
As a chiropractor to many athletes both amateur and professionals, I’ve seen numerous injuries. I’ve seen injuries that will take you out for three weeks and those that will take a minimum of a year. One of the most challenging tasks for me, as a doctor, is to look at an athlete with so much hope in their eyes and tell them they cannot run for six to eight weeks, or that they cannot back squat for a year, or they cannot throw a baseball for three months.
I know how you feel. I know how it feels to search for the best surgeon. I know how it feels to lay in bed with a passive range of motion machine moving your leg when you wake up after surgery. I know how you feel hobbling around on crutches. I know how you feel sitting on the sidelines. I know how it feels to watch people do the very things that you were so damn good at before your injury.
However, I also know how it feels to unleash that fight in you and not have a pity party for yourself. During my time spent non-weight bearing I read books that I might not have read otherwise. I became immersed in the subjects of nutrition and alternative healing therapies. When my stitches were out, I had my mom take me to a Rolfer twice a week, to a chiropractor weekly, and an acupuncturist. Without realizing it, this is where I started my career.
Injuries happen. They are a part of life. We can complain about them all we want but that doesn’t make the time spent in recovery move any more quickly. People must learn to accept their injuries, learn from them, and be better than they were before. To me, injuries are your body’s way of communicating with you, whether it is through trauma like my knee injury or gradual injury through repetitive stress.
The two biggest life lessons I’ve acquired through injury:
1. Our mind and body are connected.
This connection is so present yet often overlooked. Before I was able to run again, I would visualize myself running. After running, I would visualize myself tumbling, and I tumbled two months ahead of time. The greatest speakers, businessmen and women, and athletes, often visualize themselves in a situation before it actually happens. Michael Jordan once said after a game winning shot, “I practice in my mind being in a pressured situation and making the game winning shot.”
2. The body is designed to move.
Our bodies are designed to move and operate in the most efficient ways possible. Every bone, ligament, and muscle in our bodies is designed for a specific purpose or movement pattern. When not moving or using your body in the most efficient and strongest way possible, you are predisposing yourself to injury.
Below is a short documentary on Chad Jones, a star athlete from LSU. This guy is phenomenal. He experienced a traumatic setback. Not once, however, do you hear him speak negatively about what has happened to him. You do see a passionate, hardworking individual who is determined to come back. He’s so in it that you can almost see it, too.
Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.