Battling back from injury is probably the most universal athlete experience. What athlete, regardless of sport, location, ability level, age, or gender, hasn’t suffered at least a minor setback because of a physical ailment? Still, there’s something about it that can feel so isolating. This may be exacerbated because I’m both an individual sport athlete and because of the timing of the injury, it’s our post-nationals lull after all. Despite knowing this, I feel like it should somehow feel different. I haven’t been given this much space to just “relax and let it heal”. It feels weird. It’s not intuitive. Usually it’s a ‘jump back on the horse and keep training for the next big thing’ and there’s a coordinated effort from everyone, the doctor, the physiotherapist, my strength and conditioning coach, the massage therapist, my training partners, and my wrestling coach, to get me back in top form as quickly as possible. Being given this much time and space feels kind of lonely. It’s also extremely frustrating. I’ve spent the last month trying to recover from this injury and it sucks!
There’s no point sugar coating it… I feel like, as athletes, we take advantage of how well our bodies move when we’re healthy. Introduce an injury and all that goes out the window; but, introduce a lower body, mobility inhibiting injury and my world feels like it’s fallen apart. I hurt my elbow in Sweden, a month away from nationals. It wasn’t fun and it hurt a lot, it altered my training a great deal, but I was still able to go about my routine with minimal disruption. My team and support staff were awesome and I came back from it quickly. The healing time was supposed to be 4-6 weeks and I was on the lowest end of that projection, my elbow didn’t even hurt when I was competing at nationals. It helped that I could still run, lift weights (with modifications), and wrestle during my rehab time. Arm injuries seem easier to cope with.
At nationals I hurt my knee. An LCL-ligament strain and a sprained – possibly subluxed – fibular head. Now, those are non-weight-bearing injuries, so I could still walk but that was about all I could do. I spent the first week doing my regularly scheduled lazing around and eating all the food I never get to eat. Yeah my knee hurt in certain positions but it didn’t get too much in the way of my Netflix binge watching and marathon pizza eating. I would have taken this break regardless of injury. It was a week to just chill and recuperate having just peaked for the biggest tournament of our domestic season. Then came week two… I had enough of couch surfing and was ready to get moving again. That was short-lived as I saw the doctor and physiotherapist and received the “relax and let it heal” prescription from everyone. As someone who is very active and used to being extremely busy and on-the-go, this was really challenging. I decided to spend week two listening to my health care professionals, but I found myself restless and irritable. After what seemed like two weeks of nothingness, I couldn’t stand it anymore. If there was no wrestling and I couldn’t lift weights I could at least try to do yoga! So at the end of week two that’s what I did. I took solace in being able to get a great workout with Amy downtown at Yogagrow. It was a relief to be back to doing something that made me sweat and my muscles work! Despite not being able to do pigeon pose, I was having a great time. After a few classes I was thinking, “this isn’t so bad, I can move pretty well. I think I’ll try to get back in the gym”. I thought, this is great, I’m slowly easing back into a normal routine. In week three I tried to take on yoga classes and my reintroduction to the gym. My body was like, “nah! This isn’t the rest and relax we were supposed to do!” and I experienced some more debilitating pain reminding me that I should be taking things easy. So I did. The latter half of week three and all of week four has been spent sitting around on my butt twiddling my thumbs and it has been a test in patience. I think I’ve had enough rest. It’s been a month and I think it’s time to jump back on the horse and start training for the next big thing. My mind is definitely eager to get back, I hope my body is just as ready.