Most athletes know what it’s like to suffer some kind of set-back injury. I, my nickname my freshman year of college being “gimpy” for about 3 months, am definitely a huge victim to the injury/recovery process. Also my mom is a physical therapist as I may have already mentioned. So I know a thing or two about getting hurt, letting myself heal, and getting back into it. And let me tell you, it’s not so easy. I did a lot of it through trial and error and with a lot of foolhardiness and injuring myself even further…but I may have finally learned how it’s done.
First: Okay, so you got hurt. I’m a goalkeeper in soccer (which I’ll definitely post about once our fall season starts!), which makes me both brave and stupid. I don’t just fall onto the ground to stop hurdling projectiles…I throw myself to the ground right in their path. And runners are notorious for over-work injuries, especially with knees and ankles. I’ve pretty much seen it all. And it’s good to know which injuries are going to seriously affect your life if you don’t give ’em a little attention and which you can throw a band-aid on and get back in the game.
Minor injuries can stay minor if you know how to deal with them. One of my most famous minor injuries (at least to me, it seems minor) involves broken/sprained/jammed fingers.Broken digits hurt like none other and they prevent you from doing a lot of everyday things. But unless your bones are sticking out in funny directions, you really don’t need to visit the ER for one of these. You can pick up a metal splint at CVS (or use my McGyver method of popsicle sticks taped together over your fingers), ice them, and gradually ease your hand back into normalcy. Immobilizing and icing are the keys here.
R.I.C.E! Athlete’s Bible!
Another minor (ish) injury can be an ankle sprain, but this one can get chronic if you don’t pay it the proper amount of attention. Ice, ice, ice. 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. Elevate. Rest. (Remember R.I.C.E? It’s LEGIT. Ask my mom. ) Also take some ibuprofen. It’ll reduce your pain and swelling. It’s important to do this quickly, wear an ace wrap or heavier duty strap, and ease your way back into motion. If I had been a little slower to let this one heal I might get fewer sprains.
Check out dat sexy knee brace. Not.
Knee Problems: Knee problems are my arch nemesis. It has to do with a whole host of family history and running on harsh terrain and sitting in strange positions for all my life. Knee injuries are a bitch. Because they’re ridiculously persistent and not too easy to specifically identify and treat. And they can get really serious. Surgery serious. I tweaked my miniscus after running my half marathon, mostly because I had some tightness in my right hip that made me walk differently. And I didn’t stop training. Which left me pretty immobilized for the past month or so that I spent at home. And I feel like most of us athletes share that mind numbing mental and physical pain of being out of the game because we hurt something. Don’t be me, let it rest! The icing and elevating and ibuprofen and rest are still important in this case, as are stretching and supporting with straps and bands. If it gets bad, ultrasounds can be helpful. My mom was one of the horribly unlucky victims of the ACL tear, and you don’t wanna be there. Ever.
I’ve also suffered from some pretty major wrist injuries (that still prevent me from doing pushups properly), some hip pain, shoulder (rotator cuff) tightness, and back pain. Surprisingly, a lot of recovery time is spent in the same way. And the most important element is rest. Now if I can just convince myself to do that…
(I’ll be doing a part 2 of this article on my process of getting back into good shape after you’ve healed! Also, if you’ve been reading my posts and enjoy what I have to say, please comment and don’t hesitate to click that follow button! It makes my day!)