Whether you’re an athlete and suffer a severe training incident. Or you’re just skipping down the sidewalk and your ankle decides to snap in two. *cough cough* Me.
Your body is not indestructible. You are not invincible. But that doesn’t mean you aren’t strong. It doesn’t mean you can’t stay fit.
I did it. You can too. Here’s my advice.
- Listen to your body and accept your injury.
I have always been a very active person. I workout 6 days a week, play several sports, and enjoy other activities like hiking, snowboarding, surfing, skating, etc. And what do all of these things have in common? They involve the use of your legs. Thus, when I broke my ankle back in November, these activities would be out of the realm of possibility for me for months.
Talk about a buzzkill.
I spent a good couple of days in denial and trying to will my ankle to not be broken. (Picture Uma Thurman in Kill Bill Vol. 2) But I soon accepted my hurt and realized I have to allow my body to heal properly in its own time.
So, first lesson: Accept the injury and listen to your body.
Don’t beat yourself up. Don’t get down and discouraged. Don’t force or rush the healing process. Don’t waste any time in denial and definitely don’t make the injury worse by doing anything too soon. Do what the doctors say and give your body time to fix itself.
- Stay on top of your diet.
We’ve all heard that being fit is 80% diet, 20% working out. Whether you practice that ratio or not, it’s undoubtedly true when you’re injured.
Since squats, running the Town Lake Trail, hitting the basketball court for a quick pick-up game, or any other of my preferred workouts were now out of the question, how in the heck would I avoid gaining 30 pounds and turning to mush?
By watching what I ate. More than normal.
It was hard not being able to go to the gym for 6 weeks, but it was even more difficult to maintain my diet. I had to be much more diligent and disciplined with my eating choices now that I was basically immobile. The meal plans and grocery lists I followed before were even more crucial now and I had to follow them more strictly than ever if I was going to remain in shape.
But avoiding a 30 lb weight gain isn’t the only reason for this tip.
More importantly, eating right will also assist in your injury recovery. Fueling your body with the proper nutrients is essential to healing and making sure you get your full mobility and functionality back. Choose your foods carefully, making sure they have the vitamins and minerals and other supplements that will aid in fixing what’s broken.
So, whether you’re on the paleo or keto diet, vegan or gluten free, etc., stay on top of it.
P.S. having tons of Wildway Grain-free Granola and Hot Cereal on hand helps.
- Keep moving. Do what you can.
Contrary to the old saying, one bad apple does not ruin the whole bunch. At least, not when referring to the human body. Just because one bone is broken doesn’t mean you throw the whole skeleton out. In fact, there are like 200 others ready to be used. USE THEM.
Don’t stop moving.
If you have a shoulder injury, work your legs and lower body. If you have an ankle injury- like me- there’s still plenty of ab and upper body workouts to be done. Don’t let the rest of your body atrophy. Don’t get lazy. Sedimentation is your worst enemy. So is the couch.
Even if it’s only a 20-minute walk outside, that’s better than nothing. Just do what you can and keep moving.
- Stay Positive
Being the active person I am, this injury was and has been depressing at times. It’s easy to start thinking negatively.
“Why is it taking so long to heal?”
“Will I even be able to do all the things I could before I broke my ankle?”
“THIS BRACE IS ITCHY!”
These thoughts are a slippery slope and won’t help you or your injury at all. Negativity doesn’t heal, it hinders. Stay positive. Your brain is a powerful thing and your mindset can truly make an impact on the speed of your recovery. So, having a positive outlook can be the difference between 8 weeks and 6 weeks in a brace. And it was for me.
The day I stopped complaining and feeling sorry for myself, was the day I realized I was lucky to have the mobility I do. It was the day I truly understood the privilege of using your legs. So, that was the day I really found the motivation to rehab and recover. When I shut those negative thoughts up, I was able to hear that other voice in my head. The one saying:
“6 weeks isn’t that long.”
“You’ll be back on the basketball court in no time.”
“Okay yeah the brace itches, but it’s holding your ankle together. You can handle it.”
I was off the crutches and back to walking 2 weeks earlier than the doctor said I’d be. I’m back to going to the gym every day and I even shot some hoops the other day. I’m planning a ski trip in a couple months and I’m going hiking in a few weeks.I’m staying positive. I’m remaining confident. I am determined to get back to doing the activities I enjoy and I will.
Whether you lift weights, play sports, hike, cycle, or run, you will encounter injuries. It could be a sprained ankle, a broken arm, pulled hamstring, or a torn rotator cuff. It will happen.
Accept it. Stay on top of your diet. Keep moving in any way you can. Stay positive.
You are strong and you can remain strong... even when you're hurt.