Well, it happens to the best of us. It also happens to most of us – if we move. We get a “niggle” or worse – an injury. Either way, we are stopped in our tracks. As an athlete who likes to see what is possible, I have had more than a few of these experiences. As a coach, I have seen what happens to the athlete (as it becomes their reality). Learning to manage the situation, regardless of the severity, will make all the difference in the outcome.
Is your identity wrapped up in your results?
The first issue that must be addressed is the fact that most of us have our identity wrapped up in the results of our sport. When we can’t perform, we are forced to ask the question, “Who am I?” This is a valuable process but also very difficult. We must extract our ego from the result and get clarity on why we do whatever it is that we choose to do. What do we get out of it? How does it feed our soul? What do we really have control over? Is our self worth dependant on results or the process of getting results?
Who are your advocates?
Once we grasp where our value really comes from and what our identity truly is as an athlete, then we can begin to evaluate what we choose as the process of getting back to action. We become aware that our experience really is about the journey rather than the destination and this is just part of the journey. We stop giving attention to the limiter and start focusing on the solution to getting back on the path because we know that the “pat” is just that – a path. When we get out of our own way, the body can get on with its job of healing. I have been told and have experienced the fact that the body is an amazing healing machine. Our job is only to coax it along and get out of the way of that healing. As a coach, I have seen so many athletes trying to “force ” the healing by rushing the process or by ignoring the symptoms all together. This doesn’t allow the body to do what it needs to do and the athlete becomes even more frustrated and a very vicious injury cycle starts. So, at this point in the process, we start asking what the body needs to heal and creating a team of objective advocates for our body. I have a complete team of “healers” and advocates who I trust and know what my goals are, and can remind me of the process while coaxing my body into the healing track. My body’s advocates include my physical therapist at Promotion Physical Therapy, my doctors, my chiropractor and my coach. They all communicate with one another and are on the same page.
Now, we start to ask the best questions:
- What can I do to stay in the game and out of the way?
- Are there modalities that will allow me to be in the game?
- Can I do some of my sport?
- Can I just move?
- Is there technology available to keep me moving?
Studies have shown that movement helps the body heal at a quicker rate than sedentary. It is critical to get moving in the way that supports healing.
How do I return to the game?
Finally, and perhaps the hardest part, is applying the lessons learned from the beginning of the process to what the process looks now. If I can only walk, can I walk with the same excitement and dedication as I did before? Can I still glean the lessons I need to learn, while not working at the same place as I did before the bump in the path? If I am focused on the bigger questions I will get the lessons I need and will return to the game. In that process, I become a more complete person and athlete. I will be able to play again even harder until we come back around to learning the next lesson.