Injury: what *not* to do

Photo by Matthew Wiebe.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; these are 5 stages of grieving and they equally apply to injury.

It’s taken roughly 7 weeks to recover from a torn ligament in my left ankle. Fortunately I’ve learnt many lessons along the way and it’s been a learning curve that I’m incredibly grateful for.

At some point in your life you’re likely to experience an injury, so I hope these lessons help you to avoid the same mistakes I made.

#1. Avoid talking to a Professional.

Unless you’ve spent 7 years at Medical School studying sports medicine, physiotherapy or rehabilitation, I suggest you talk to a professional.

A physical therapist will identify what’s wrong and prescribe the right medication, exercises and alternative therapies for a speedy recovery.

Yes, it’s an inconvenient out-of-pocket expense but it will save you weeks of discomfort and frustration.

A physical therapist will help you to understand:

a. What is wrong.

b. How you’ve injured yourself.

c. How to make it better.

d. How to prevent it from happening again.

Book an appointment within 2–3 days of your injury and you’ll cut your recovery time in half.

#2. Live in denial.

I ignored my injury. I wasn’t ready to accept that I was broken.

I started training far too early which resulted in further damage to my ankle joint. This consequently prolonged my recovery by 3–4 weeks.

It’s important to accept your circumstances and be patient. Don’t ignore the swelling, the aching or the sharp pains. Accept that it might take months to regain your strength or to make a full recovery.

It’s better to take 1 month off now, than to take 12 months off later.

If you’re craving activity, find ways to exercise that won’t aggravate your injury. I chose spin classes over running. Your physio/doctor will be able to advise when to start exercising and what to avoid.

#3. Ignore rehab.

Rehabilitation is the process to regain full function after an injury. It involves restoring strength, flexibility, endurance and power.

Once you’ve booked an appointment with your physical therapist, you’ll receive a rehabilitation program. Be diligent and patient whilst accepting recovery won’t happen overnight.

“The pain of recovery is often greater than the pain of injury but healing is worth it, don’t give up” — Christine Caine.

Without rehab it’s easy to re-aggravate soft tissue injuries. Aggravation triples the time it takes for your injury to heal. I learnt this lesson the hard way.

Whether it’s stretching, massage, strength training or alternative therapies, adherence is key. Practice your exercises as often as possible (you can even set a reminder on your iPhone) and you’ll notice remarkable results.

#4. Push yourself over the edge.

You may have goals. You may have booked an event or set a date to achieve a great milestone but if you’re not healthy, both physically and mentally — you have nothing.

“When a woman becomes her own best friend, life becomes easier” — Diane Von Furstenburg

The most profound lesson I’ve learnt from the last 7 weeks is to stop being so hard on myself.

I set crazy expectations which — in hindsight — are almost unachievable.

I push and I push and I push, until something eventually breaks.

Slow down, take time for rest. Listen to your body. Because if you don’t, an injury or illness will happen when you least expect it.

The beauty of injury is that it forces you to stop.

It’s incredible what you notice when you slow down. Take time out; even if it’s just 10 minutes a day to listen to what’s really going on.


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About the author: @ChelcieP is the Head of Comms and Marketing at Zova. She loves running, sunshine and eating pizza.

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