Injury - the word that makes athletes and coaches cringe. Having been an athlete and coach, I have seen and personally experienced my fair share of injuries. From minor bruises and aches to full breaks and torn ligaments, injuries are never fun for all involved. Injuries can have life-shattering effects for those who choose to define themselves through movement. Both mentally and physically, injury places great strain on the athletic individual. 


But injury is not the end. Just because you are hurt doesn’t mean you will never be the same ever again. Nor does it mean that you will never be able to engage in your favorite activities. Injury is as much a state of mind as it is a physical condition. Depression and negative thinking will of course accompany injury. It is perfectly normal to be upset at not being able to perform your usual activities. You must make the difficult choice to accept the injury and become proactive in the healing process. In this way the time spent injured can become a valuable learning experience.


When I was in my early twenties I suffered a nasty knee injury. Because I was too stupid and stubborn to go to the doctor early on, my medial meniscus had frayed into oblivion. Literally the inside of my knee looked like a badly frayed twine rope. Due to the extent of the fray my surgeon actually advised me to avoid surgery, due to the fact that he would have had to cut away a large portion of my meniscus. I remember him telling me, “If I cut you, you will never be a hundred percent ever again. You’ll be able to train but probably not compete.”


 So I didn't take the option of surgery. For the next year and a half I walked with a limp most days. Eight of those months were spent walking with a cane. 


I was extremely depressed. What once defined my entire life was now beyond my grasp. For several months I went though some severe mental turmoil but eventually came to the conclusion that I would heal and become better than ever regardless of the pain and frustration it would require. I embraced my injury, started studying alternative styles of medicine, physical therapy, and nutrition, and started learning cane- and weapon-based styles of martial arts. I even started to amass a good cane collection. In hindsight, the experience of sustaining a serious injury guided me to where I am today as a health professional.


Below are five tips that can help you make the best of a bad injured situation:


1. Accept Your Injury


When you’re injured it’s very important you accept the fact that you can’t train in the manner previously were. Attempting to train with an injury is only going to prolong and even worsen your current condition. Training does not need to be completely removed from your daily routine, but a change needs to be addressed in order for your body to heal.


2. Be Proactive in Recovery


Treat healing yourself as you would practice. Develop a daily routine with your methods of recovery and stick to it. Work with your physical therapist, research your condition, and learn all you can about how to heal your injury and minimize time spent on the bench.


3. Keep Up Your Healthy Habits


Just because you’re hurt doesn’t mean you can never go to the gym. While injured, a great way to keep your skills sharp is to observe your classmates training. Taking notes, watching videos, and talking to your coach are very beneficial when furthering your level of expertise. Consistency is the key to success in any type of physical endeavor, keep showing up to the gym and keep learning.


4. Eat Clean


Eating a clean diet will help minimize weight gain while injured. It can also aid in a speedy recovery by reducing the amount of inflammation in your body. Research what foods can assist you in healing and staying healthy. As mentioned above consistency is the key to success, this also applies to your diet.


5. Pick Up a New Hobby


Being injured generally allows for one to have more free time. Pick up a new hobby that you enjoy to keep yourself happy. Not being able to do what you love sucks but focusing on how terrible it is won’t help the situation one bit. Injuries have the ability to wreak havoc on you mentally, finding something new to focus on can absolutely assist you in staying positive.


Photos courtesy of Shutterstock.

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