One of the worst things to happen to an athlete is an injury. Let’s face it. No one likes to get hurt.
Injuries cause setbacks in sports careers and in some cases, may end an athletic career. Getting hurt will warrant unwanted feelings such as anger, denial, or sadness. What is important is for the athlete to overcome this setback. Most of the time, sports medicine is focused on physical rehab. However, coping with a sports injury requires the athlete to focus on both his/her mental and physical states. Recovery is a long and hard road to endure, but if approached correctly, the athlete will come out as a stronger, more confident, and resilient person.
Are you on the road to recovery? Here are some tips and strategies you can use for a faster and bearable injury recovery.
Start with some RICE!
And we don’t mean the cereal grain (although rice is very delicious!). R.I.C.E. is a mnemonic for a common medical treatment method for soft tissue injuries. The goal of R.I.C.E. is to not cure your injury but to manage the discomfort and possible internal bleeding. Use this method right after you feel pain or discomfort after working out, running, or playing a sport. Don’t forget to take a few days off after you feel pain so your injury doesn’t get worse.
R.I.C.E. stands for:
REST: Rest your injured part. It’s very important to stop using the part to promote effective healing and stop further injury. You’ll be doing yourself a favor by letting your injured muscle, ligament, or other tissue rest.
ICE: Many people believe that you must put a warm compress on a tissue injury rather than ice packs. Ice bags or a cold pack is much better because it helps to stop the swelling and provides short-term pain relief. When icing, use a bag with crushed ice, a cold pack, or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin towel. Never directly apply ice to the skin and never leave the ice on an injury for more than 20 minutes. This could lead to possible frostbite or skin damage.
COMPRESSION: Compression, just like icing, helps to reduce and limit the swelling of the tissues. To compress your injury you can use an ACE bandage. Wrap the bandage around the swollen part. If you feel throbbing or if the bandage is on too loose, remove it and re-wrap the area. An alternative way to apply compression is to use sports medicine compression clothing such as ankle support sleeves, knee sleeves, leg sleeves, etc. Using this type of clothing provides you with the same benefits of a bandage and also more range of motion on your injury. It eliminates the worry of wrapping the bandage on too tight or loose. You just slip on the sleeve. Not to mention, washing compression gear instead of a bandage is much easier!
ELEVATION: Elevation helps to control swelling. The most effective way to elevate your injury is to keep the injured area above the level of the heart. We suggest using pillows to prop up your injury.
Many times, especially when we’re young, we trust our parents or legal guardian to understand our injuries or sickness without understanding them ourselves. This time around, it is key to learn as much as possible about your injury. Educating yourself as to why and how you hurt yourself will help with eliminating feelings of fear or anxiety. So after the diagnosis ask your doctor about the cause, treatment, and prevention.
Here are more ideas on what to ask your doctor:
What type of injury do I have?
What type of treatment will I be given and how long will the recovery take?
What should I expect during rehabilitation?
Can I still work out or participate in sports?
What are some warning signs that I should be looking for to indicate that I am getting worse?
How can I prevent this from happening again?
It will be hard to accept the fact that you are injured; however, in order to move on, you must accept responsibility for your injury (even if it was not your fault). By accepting the responsibility, you will feel a greater sense of control. You are the only person that can determine your outcome. This will help to focus on the recovery and can move past negative feelings you may harbor.
Smile & Talk it Out!
Most injuries require immense amounts of rest. This will give you vast amounts of time to be “thinking” rather than “doing.” Don’t fall into the trap of harboring negative feelings and feeling pessimistic. Maintaining a positive attitude during the recovery process is vital to healing quickly. Positivity will show that you are committed to your treatments. To get the most out of rehab sessions, you need to remain focused on what you need to do and not on self-defeating thoughts.
One way to remain calm is to talk out your feelings with you teammates, coach, family, or friends. Many times, athletes will isolate themselves from the world after an injury due to embarrassment, anger, sadness, loneliness etc. The first step to overcoming this is to know that you are not alone! There are many people out there willing to listen. They may not necessarily understand your pain, but they will be there for you. In addition, maintaining contact with your team and coach during recovery shows that you are still a team member. Bonus points for you!
Depending on what your doctor says and what type of injury you had, you might be able to still work out during recovery. You’d have to modify your training and workout prior to the incident, but you can still continue working on your fitness and health. Consider wearing compression gear that is designed to be used pre, during, and post workout to help with your muscle recovery.
Speak with your doctor, trainer, and physical trainer FIRST before working out. They can help you establish your new workout routine. Beware, if you don’t seek professional advice, you could possibly make the injury worse.
With the right attitude, knowledge, and support a sports injury will not feel like the end of the world. Go in with optimism and realistic goals. You might surprise yourself and come out as a better, more confident and resilient athlete.
To all the Zensah athletes out there, do you have any coping tips for sports injuries? And good luck to any of the Zensah athletes who are on the road to recovery. We wish you a quick and restful rehabilitation.