The Athlete and the Injury


musculoskeletal_sports_injury

We’ve all seen it. Our favorite athlete, fantasy stud or ourselves falling victim to the injury bug. It is almost a fact of life that at one point or another we all will have some injury through physical activity. Most of the time it’s a sprained ankle or a strained muscle where a little rest and some ice will heal all our pain after a couple of days.

I’d like to talk about the mental aspect of the serious injuries like broken bones, ligament damage or spinal injuries.   These injuries can take months to years to get back to “normal” and even then they still aren’t as good as they were before. Modern medicine has come a long way since the days of Gale Sayers where a knee injury could potentially end a career. Now they can repair the injured knee over a weekend, do rehab programs and be back to almost 100% by the next season, say like an Adrian Peterson for example. What doesn’t get talked about it how mentally the athlete deals with that injury.

Think for a second of something that defines you as a person. This could be anything from being an athlete, a parent or even an expert video game player. Now have that aspect of your life taken away from you and see how you feel. Sure it might be great at first, it’s almost like a mini vacation, but then you start to miss the thing you lost and eventually depression sets in especially if your life revolved around that thing. For a certain amount of time you essentially lost a piece of your identity. You have all the time in the world now and all you can think about is how much you want to be doing what you can’t. Doubt creeps in and then that veil of invincibility is gone.

This is where mental toughness comes in. The quote “Tough times show true character” couldn’t be more applicable. You could take the victim role and wallow in your own tears and snapping at the people around you or you could take this opportunity to better yourself as a person. Read books, learn something new that you just haven’t had time for or just enjoy the little things in life. This not only helps you mentally but your body will respond as well. Use this time to round out your person and focus on things outside your norm. Use this time to step back from the fast paced, high stress life we all lead. Take your dog for a walk and see the enjoyment he has as he sniffs every fire hydrate or enjoy the quietness of the early morning. Since your mind is occupied with other things, you aren’t stressed and releasing stress hormones into your body potentially slowing your recovery. Who knows, maybe this injury could put you on a completely different path than you originally planned.

Being healthy is more than just looking pretty or lifting heavy weights. Being healthy is the whole package, mind and body. You can only get so far without the other.