If you play sport to any sort of competitive level, or do a decent amount of training, it is highly likely that at some point you are going to get injured. Whilst this is especially frustrating, it is part of sport. What is important is how you react to the injury, what you do about it, and how you come back. Below are some of my top tips.
1) Being depressed doesn’t help.
The natural reaction to the frustrating nature of injury is to want to lock yourself in a room and just be depressed. But doing this does not achieve anything. Recognise now that you need to do something about it, and be proactive. In 2008, I tore my hamstring 6 weeks before the Trials. I could have accepted that my Olympic dream was over, or do something about it. I chose the later, and made the team.
2) Knowledge is power
Learn everything about your injury. The key to getting better is improving recovery and doing corrective exercise – know how to do this. The key to not losing too much fitness is to exercise that don’t aggravate your injury but provide stimulus for fitness maintenance – find out what these are. The key to not getting injured again is to find out why the injury happened, and what you can do to correct this – find out what these factors are.
3) Do ALL your rehab
Rehab is very boring, and very long. No one enjoys it. But it has to be done. Find some distraction techniques (music, TV) to take your mind off it. But whatever you do, make sure you get it done, as it is what is required to get better.
4) Understand pain
Things are going to hurt. Depending on where your injury is depends on how much pain you are allowed to experience before you can stop. With a spinal disc injury, pain is generally avoided. With a hamstring injury, you are allowed a greater level of pain. It is important to recognise what I term “injury pain”, and pain that is allowed. When I was coming back from my 2008 hamstring tear, for my first race my hamstring really hurt. However, I knew that it was allowed to hurt at this level, so I could just ignore it and carry on.
5) Be mentally strong
There are going to more set backs, and you are not going to achieve all your goals on your comeback. Staying positive and bouncing back is important.
6) Make whatever sacrifices you need to in order to get back.
I don’t like needles, but to come back from injury I have had 12 injections into my hamstring. I’ve had an injection into my spine. I have had 36 acupuncture needles into my back. I did this because I knew that is what it took to make myself better. When I injured my spinal disc, I wasn’t allowed to sit down for two weeks – so I didn’t. Imagine what impact this has on your day-to-day life – but I made that sacrifice to get better.
7) Injury Nutrition
As you wont be training quite as much, you might need to consume slightly less calories. Upping your fish oil intake may also be a good idea in order to reduce inflammation. MSM, glucosamine and chrondritin may help with degenerative joint and disc injury repair. Creatine may help attenuate muscle loss associated with injury. Higher protein levels may be required to help repair. Vitamins and minerals may also improve injury recovery. Attempting to boost testosterone and HGH through nutritional means should also improve recovery time.
So there you go. As I alluded to earlier, you are going to get injured. That’s a fact of sport. But how you deal with this injury, what you do to get back, and how you stop getting re-injured, all matter. It is important to do the right things, and hopefully this article will give you a better idea of what you can do.