By Clara Yori
First I should note that I am not a professional of physical therapy or coaching movements. I do have a background in massage therapy and I am a professional at getting injured. Don’t take my words as medical advice. I tend to ride the line between pushing hard and overdoing it, but I’d like to think I have learned from each setback. Injuries happen in all sorts of ways and I have tried them all. A few ways to get injured: don’t listen to your coach, don’t get enough sleep, repeat movements that hurt over and over. Sometimes an accident happens and suddenly you find yourself with a pretty serious pain. A wise chiropractor once told me, “The body has a remarkable way of healing itself” and those words have become my mantra when I am dealing with an injury.
Rest it, but not too much. Immobilizing an injury may be necessary, but usually it’s not. Skip the things that aggravate your injury, but gentle movement is usually better than doing nothing. Your injury needs blood flow to heal so at least move your body. The main thing here is to pay attention to your body. Don’t push it, but complete rest is rarely the answer.
Think about your movement patterns. Sit too much? Maybe that’s tightening your psoas and that’s why your back hurts. Look at your phone a lot? Maybe that’s affecting your wrist or elbow. Sit with your shoulder forward on a laptop scroll pad? Maybe that’s contributing to your shoulder pain.
Seek professional help. I personally think that a skilled massage therapist and a good chiropractor can always help, but you may need an even bigger team on your side. Perhaps a physical therapist can give you specific exercises and help you come up with a plan. Maybe you need to see a doctor for further diagnostics and/or imaging. There is a lot you can do on your own, but you might need another set of eyes and a professional opinion or two. Or three.
Make a plan, actually follow it, and be flexible. Having a plan with exercises, movement patterns to correct, and regular bodywork helps me focus and feel like I am making progress instead of just waiting for the injury to feel better. There is no timeline for injuries so don’t set any deadlines. Do follow the plan and re-evaluate regularly.
Focus on what you CAN do. This is the thing that keeps me going. It’s so easy to focus on all the things you are missing out on, but there are always other things you can do. See this as your chance to work on that accessory work or mobility you have been neglecting. If you hurt your shoulder then take this opportunity to strengthen your squat or run more and work on your endurance. If you hurt your lower back then maybe it’s finally time to get good at strict pullups.
You can get through this. I know it’s discouraging to get an injury and feel like it’s a huge setback in your athletic progress. You will make a comeback and you might even get stronger because of it. The body has a remarkable way of healing itself.