May Day!! May Day!! It’s Coach Tip Tuesday!! (See what I did there?? :) )
This week I’m talking to all of you folks who are out on the Injured Reserved List, and to those who have been recently cleared from it. I’m here to tell you that it IS possible for you to come back from being injured and to run a marathon, finish a triathlon, or ride that 100 miles for charity. What I am also here to tell you is something that you might not want to hear/admit: that you might not get to your goal in the timeline that you originally wanted to.
I’ve worked with many athletes over the years who are dealing with injuries of various forms. Some of them have been currently injured, others are dealing with past injuries that still aren’t 100% resolved or that like to pop back up again at times.
Many age-group athletes I work with are constantly flirting with what I like to call the “line of injury.” What I mean when I refer to this line is the boundary between being healthy and injured; there are wide ranges on either side of the line, but many athletes end up constantly hovering at or around this line. From what I’ve observed, this is the cycle that athletes go through: they sustain an injury, exist in a state of denial about said injury for awhile, finally get a diagnosis when they realize that they can’t wish away their pain, modify or restrict their activities, heal up enough to begin activities again, and then jump back in where they left off when they first started feeling the injury so they can “make up for lost time.”
Sound familiar?? Don’t you shake your heads at me...I know this is familiar to 90% of you. :) I’ve walked that path myself. The problem with this line of thinking is simple: it is impossible to pick up right where you left off after an injury. Yes, you can jump right back in, but then you’ll likely also be jumping right back into injury. It is important to *gradually* reintroduce movement and load so that you can strengthen up and NOT get injured again. If you do this, and address and work to correct the underlying issues that caused your injury in the first place, then you will actually come back as a much stronger athlete. You won’t be flirting with that line of injury; you’ll be existing well on the other side of it in the “healthy” zone.
I know it’s tempting to just go all out when you are cleared to resume activity. I know that you probably gained a few pounds while you were on that Injured Reserve List and that you want to see them gone. I know you had your heart set on that goal race in a month. But I want to encourage you to take the time to heal yourself COMPLETELY, not just a little bit. I want you all to be active and chasing dreams for as long as you want to in your life; I don’t want that for you just for this year. Think big picture. Still pursue that goal, but consider adjusting timelines so that you can chase your goals as a strong, HEALTHY athlete. Don’t settle for simply surviving your goal event; desire to THRIVE during it.