by Kris Pitcher
Dealing with the setbacks of an injury are frustrating at best. You're managing both the physiological and the psychological aspects of your limitations. These are both real, and managing through sports injuries is no time to put your head in the sand.
Whether you have experienced an acute injury, or an over-use injury, either way you may be down for the count. Most people begin with denial, "It's not that bad, I can work through the pain." In most cases, this is what got you where you are. Injured.
Let's assume you've taken care of your situation by consulting a professional, a physician of some specialty, and worked through your course of immediate care and recovery. Now what?
Foremost, you're not who you think you are. What I mean is, an injury changes you. Injuries to tissues and joints change the way you are able to carry out the things you "used" to do. You need to approach your workouts differently.
Knowing this is an important starting point. If you think you can go right back to the very things which caused your injury, without getting hurt...well, that's just crazy talk. For instance, if you've been nursing a shoulder injury and you continue to flat bench with poor form - you're never going to rehab that shoulder.
But if you go back into the gym and work some different movements, protecting the joint instead of chasing big numbers, you'll eventually get the joint in good health. There comes a time in our lives when we can't keep up with the Jones' in the weight room.
Just because everyone else is squatting, if we have a back injury, we need to consider our own situation rather than just do what everyone else is doing. The point is, we have to work out smarter, not harder.
When we are coming back from an injury we have to start slow. One of the frustrating things for people is we loose the gains we made. Well, that may be a reality. But guess what, we can control certain things.
Control your diet so you don't gain excess weight while you're out of commission. Maybe you can't run, but can you walk? Or swim? You may not be released to do EXACTLY what you want, but chances are, those are the things that led to your injury in the first place.
Do what you can. Take advantage of physical therapy, massage therapy, do the things your doctor has told you to do in order to recover. Don't come back too soon. More isn't better. Remember that recovery requires good nutrition.
Sitting home eating pints of ice cream because you are sad you're injured isn't going to help you recover. Eat the nutrients you need to repair your tissues, and control your weight gain while you aren't expending as many calories. Do yourself a favor here.
Knowing there are as many psychological hurdles to be overcome as physiological when coming back from an injury is half the battle. Give yourself a break. Know you need to do what YOU are capable of right now. Not what you could do a year ago, or what your friends at the gym are doing.
Also know that you might need to learn a few things. Your chosen activities might be a little hard on your body, your form might be less than great, and you might be neglecting good form for big lifts. You may be over training leading to over-use, and not recovering properly...leading to injury.
Be gentle with yourself as you are coming back from an injury. You are not who you used to be, and that's OK. You are going to have to change your mindset to meet yourself where you are. Stop being mad about that. It is what it is. In plenty of time, you'll heal.