How to come back after an injury. Having danced for most of my life, I’ve had the dis-pleasure of suffering a number of injuries. From a torn hamstring (which bothers me to this day), to broken toes which I never even knew were broken, to most recently, a torn calf muscle. I’ve managed to come back each time and the torn hamstring didn’t even slow me down for too long. I have, however, noticed that each time it’s harder to start again and not just from a physical point of view, but a mental one as well.
HOW TO COME BACK AFTER AN INJURY
Start slow. After you get the okay from your doctor or physio, it’s best to take it slow at first. By all means, do your workout, take your class or go for a run, but hold back just a bit. It’s okay to take it easy because you need to build up your strength and endurance. Most importantly, stick to your physiotherapy. While it might be tempting to just jump back in, there’s a reason why you have a program set up for you. There’s a very real science behind small movements and specific strength (or mobility) exercises.
Know how it happened. Some injuries just happen, while others are caused by overuse or poor technique. For example, I was walking across the street and suddenly felt a pop in my calf muscle. I didn’t slip, I didn’t jump and nothing out of the ordinary happened. My hamstring injury, on the other hand, happened while I was dancing, right in the middle of a dynamic movement. When you take a moment to understand why it happened then you have a much better chance for a full recovery and to prevent further injuries.
Self-assessment. You know your body best and you are sure to notice some differences in movement patterns following an injury. Take note of these because you’ll have to also focus on healing the muscles that were overcompensating while you were injured. You will probably have to consciously stretch them out to help re-balance your body, while you work on strengthening the opposite (aka injured) side of your body.
Push through it without pushing. While you might feel like you’ve gone right back to the beginning, know that you haven’t. While it will take some time to get your body back to its pre-injury conditioning, the power of muscle memory will keep them from completely forgetting your sport. This is your perfect opportunity to focus on the why if your injury happened due to poor technique. When you are regaining your strength, make sure that you are balancing out your muscles, working both sides of the body evenly and strengthening the small supporting muscles, not just the big powerful ones.
Don’t let it stop you. For anyone who is very active, you already know that moving plays a huge part in keeping your stress levels under control and does wonders for your self-esteem. In fact, it’s often a big part of who you are. When an injury happens and you find yourself relegated to the couch, it’s important to recognize that you will go through an emotional roller coaster. Take this time to focus on everything you can do. During my recent calf injury I wasn’t able to walk very well, but I could stretch my other muscles, I could ride a stationary bike (on low resistance) and I could swim. While you should be resting, don’t stop moving altogether.
Injuries suck but they do happen and if you are active then it’s likely that you will at some point get injured. Whether it’s a minor injury (like mine, I was only out for 2 weeks) or a major one, the key is to not let it get you down. Instead, try to focus on accepting it and moving forward because the ultimate goal is to come back and be better than before!
Have you ever had an injury that has sidelined you?
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