Being an athlete, or an active individual who enjoys time outside, there is always the risk of sustaining injuries. Some will be worse than others, with most involving a small about time of rest but some injuries can be serious and involve many months, sometimes years of rehabilitation.
I was unfortunate enough to have two very serious injuries within a 14 month period, one being a fractured and dislocated elbow which required an operation to repair and then I fully ruptured my ACL whilst skiing. Below I share some of the ways I dealt with those injuries.
- It is ok to feel angry and think “why me” but after a while you need to re-focus, make a plan and have the aim of making small gains every day. Treat re-hab as a competition. You can’t change what you did so you have to make the best recovery as you can and just get on with it.
- The mind is very powerful. Staying positive and having positive people around is very important. The last thing you want to hear is someone saying “you won’t be able to do that again”.
- Get back active as soon as you can and into a routine. Low level aerobic work, or time on the static turbo if you can. Just getting the blood pumping will have a beneficial effect on your overall mood and will aid recovery whilst maintaining some level of fitness. This is something I could have done better from an early stage.
- Get strong- this was the advice I was given with both injuries, but especially with my elbow. As soon as you can and within reason, get your injury strong. Don’t be afraid to push boundaries and a little pain is ok!
- Get in the swimming pool- For both injuries I used the swimming pool as a great re-hab tool. The water provides a natural resistance which will build back strength. You can add in specific exercises with specific floats that can really help build more strength. I also used the sauna a lot in the early days to help improve my range of movement for my elbow.
- Build a small team of professionals who you trust and know what they are talking about. I did this, and it made a massive difference.
- Don’t always think you need to have an operation. Some injuries of course need an urgent operation- such as my elbow which needed reconstructed. However, with my ACL, because I had to wait so long for an operation I just got on with rehab to get it as strong as possible. In the end we decided that an operation wasn’t for me and I was making good progress. The key thing was getting as strong and stable as possible. I have no issues 16 months after the accident and can do everything I want to do, which is key.
- Remember, things will get better. Have faith, do the work and stay patient.