Overcoming Injuries and Discouragement
by Susan Arruda
6 Time Figure/Fitness Champion and mom of 2
If you're an athlete, an avid fitness enthusiast, and/or trying to figure out how to exercise on our own, you've undoubtedly experienced it - INJURIES. It plagues most athletes (and then some) and the recurrence and flare up of those injuries can be an area of contention!
Yes, it's discouraging and it can serve to knock the wind out of your sails if you let it! The tough part is not letting it!
The initial disappointment is inevitable but there are some key things you can do to minimize the impact, get on the road to recovery immediately and to help resist discouragement (All things I must always keep before me.)
1. STOP immediately doing whatever you were doing that triggered it! I had a much harder time at this when I was in my teens, twenties, and even thirties. Experience and wisdom now prevail. I don't recover as quickly as I used to and it's simply not worth the risk of a greater setback. I now ask myself before I do a 'risky' exercise move, "do the risks outweigh the benefits?" Do I really need to attempt and learn to balance on my head or stand on a swiss ball? Hmmm... perhaps not.
2. View it as an OPPORTUNITY to explore a different activity. We can get stuck in our personal bubble of doing what we know, what we're comfortable doing and what we're good at. Don't want to give up running altogether due to a knee or ankle injury? I don't blame you. Ever consider water running in shallow or deep water (wearing a buoyancy belt), or a combination of both. This transforms the high impact activity to low and no impact. It's not only a challenge for the core and working muscles but also a great change and challenge for your cardiovascular system. Low impact doesn't have to mean low intensity!
3. SWITCH from trying to make progress, and instead flip your thinking and training into MAINTENANCE MODE. Stay in the habit of exercise, but switch from jumping (if your injury involves a knee injury) and try a yoga class. Work to improve your flexibility, weight train the body parts that you can train and work around the injury. Avoid any exercise that triggers sharp pain. It may be the perfect time to try that new belly dancing class you were meaning to try and/or enroll in a healthy cooking workshop.
4. STAY POSITIVE! It's easy to get discouraged and look at the disappointing setback, succumbing to negative talk and a negative attitude; DON'T. Resist the negative spiral by keeping your eyes and focus on what you can do! A shoulder injury is not a broken arm and you can work around it. Refrain from the obvious; push-ups and and pull ups and anything that aggravates it and do what you can do. It could always be worse, so take a moment to reflect on the more serious health situations of others who may not be so fortunate and learn to count your blessings.
5. DONT STOP EXERCISING! You can always do something! As already mentioned, it is vital to stay in the habit of doing something physical. Even ten minutes of focused exercise keeps you maintaining the healthy lifestyle habits you've established. Get rid of the all or nothing mentality. That thinking will only serve to sabotage all your hard earned progress. It all counts for something. Remember; it is easier to keep it going than it is to stop completely and to have to start again later on from scratch. That will help you avoid the discouragement that comes with starting all over again later on. For us fitness enthusiasts who live the lifestyle, the mind, mood and mental connection is very real! Physical activity is directly tied to releasing 'feel good' endorphins which are a must for helping you feel joy, confidence, is a natural medicine for combatting depression and keeping emotions in check. Enough said; stopping is not an option!
Back injuries are among the worst, as the whole body can be affected. Food for thought: Practice isometrics, improving your posture technique and work on some basic traditional abdominal exercises, especially activation of the TVA, - our Abs Core Galore workout in our Powerpack DVD goes into greater detail about what could be the missing link in development of a stronger, healthy back.
Take account of Newton's Laws of Motion which reinforces this: An object (in this case, body) at rest will stay at rest until an external force acts on it (the decision to move). Hence, a body at rest will remain at rest, while a body in motion will remain in motion.
6. Don't be so quick to return to regular training until you get the okay from your sports specialist. Returning to full out training can lead to increased and recurring setbacks. One step forward in progress and two steps back in regression is equally discouraging. Take heed, listen, and trust your specialists as they have your best interests at heart and are working to get you to optimal recovery. Any ailment that does not get better within a week's time requires that you seek a professional; a sports specialist is highly recommended, not your GP.
7. Remind yourself that this is a short season and it won't last forever. Surround yourself with positive minded and supportive people (like those at GetFitFaster.ca) and do your best to keep an attitude of gratitude! This is easier said than done and requires conscious effort and verbal practice. Nobody's perfect, so don't get down on yourself and beat yourself up mentally, or verbally, for missing the mark.
Tomorrow is always a new day and a chance to make the adjustments needed to get it right. Strive for continual improvement and try to encourage yourself as you would your best friend. A good rule of thumb is: if you wouldn't talk to someone you care that way, you certainly shouldn't talk to yourself that way! Life's tough enough without being your own worst enemy.
Our overall goal should be to enjoy everyday life and appreciate and cherish what we have and focus more on what we CAN do.