Are you Injured? Read this and recover faster.

Are you Injured? Read this and recover faster.

Are you Injured? Read this and recover faster.

Clap your hands together as loudly as you can – anyone recognise the sound that a ligament makes when it snaps?  Maybe you’ve lost a bicep, maybe an ankle. Maybe a wrist.  With luck, its been minimal for most of us.  Sometimes we don’t have much luck.    

For older athletes injured in competition or in training, the stakes are a lot higher than getting injured in your teens and twenties.  The recovery times are longer, the physio painful and inconvenient in terms of schedules, the ability to work and earn an income gets affected, and you start to wonder whether all of this discomfort was really worth the enjoyment and satisfaction that sport provided.  

Getting through a time of injury and rehab takes mindfulness and patience – both tough to achieve when you’re so annoyed.  There is a great saying that which we find helpful– it says that anything created by someone else is impermanent.  We are born, we get older, we die, sometimes we gain weight, sometimes we lose weight, sometimes we are up and sometimes we are down.  Feelings arise and they dissipate just as quickly.  Skin cells live for a few weeks, red blood cells live for around four months, white blood cells live for around a year, and colon cells live only four days. Brain cells last an entire lifetime.  Our bodies, by the way, are the last object that we should have any faith in, because, in 100% of cases, they will let us down.  Eventually, they will fail and we will die.  

What this means is that everything, every situation, every emotion, every setback, every challenge, is impermanent.  It will arise and it will end. Sure, we may be out of the gym for a while, but we know that as soon as we are able to return, and our rehab is complete, we will be back and improving and good feelings will arise as quickly as these current bad feelings will leave us.  Even those who are permanently injured climb what is called the “hedonic treadmill” – in the same way, that lottery winners don’t become suddenly and perpetually happy, those who have been permanently injured don’t become instantly or perpetually sad.  After a time, we return to our long term average.  So, relax, even in the worst-case scenario, that feeling you have right now is impermanent.  

Secondly, our view of ourselves.  As people, we take to rest a lot of our self-confidence in our view of ourselves as defined by words such as fathers, sons, husbands, protectors, warriors, lifters, fighters, or wrestlers.  When events occur, such as a serious injury, our ability to live up to these words is affected.  We ask ourselves – am I really able to live up to my idea of myself as a father if I can’t instantly leap out of bed and protect my household? Am I a lifter if I can’t squat?  

These questions are natural but wrong.  What makes you who you are has nothing to do with whether right now, this week, this month, this year, you can shrimp, or squat or throw a three punch combination.  For those that will never heal, or simply can’t return to the sport they love, this doesn’t change what you are.  Muhammad Ali was defined by much more than the speed of his right cross.  

For those that can heal, remember that your body is impermanent, for good and ill.  Jack Newton was one of the world’s most successful golfers before walking into a propeller at the height of his professional career and losing an arm and one eye.  He rehabbed and taught himself to play one-handed, swinging the club with his left hand in a right-handed stance.  He typically plays 18 holes scoring in the ’80s.    

So, if you’re sitting at home waiting for surgery, or in hospital post-op, or rehabbing, or maybe just nursing an old injury wondering if this is it, take a moment and have a think about two things.  Firstly, you have time on your hands and these negative feelings will pass.  Most injuries in sports are impermanent, as are you.  Secondly, time away from training won’t make you anything other than what you were the day you got injured.  You are following in the footsteps of a whole lot of people in history who saw their bodies as accompaniments to their fighting spirit.  So be smart, take the right amount of time to heal, start slow and keep your spirits high.  Old man strength is around the corner.  

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