Imagine you are going full tilt in the gym. You have been 100% dedicated to training hard, and even more dedicated to eating clean. Life is good and you feel invincible.....until you're not. You get injured and it completely catches you off guard. You are unable to train as hard as you've been training, and even end up missing a few days of workouts. What are you going to do?
I don't wish ill will on anyone but the truth of the matter is, shit happens. Injuries can be one of our hardest challenges both physically and mentally, and they can either been seen as our demise, or you can take the hits as they come and learn something new that you might have never found if you hadn't been injured. I should know because I have been through injury after injury since I started training from the age of 17. I've fractured my tibia (shin bone) and my foot, sprained my lower back, dislocated my shoulder, tore my hip flexor, quad, and hamstring on the same leg (all in one year), and have had a bulged disc in my spine. What I have learnt from all of these injuries is this; life goes on.
I remember my first injury. I was 19 years old and loved running. I ran everywhere. I would run 3km to the gym, workout for an hour, and finish off with a 12km run. I did this 5 times a week, I was obsessed with running. My mind and my iron will seemed to be able to endure more than my body was capable of enduring though when one day I got off the treadmill and couldn't walk. I thought I just tweaked something, that maybe it would go away after I iced it. I could feel a sharp pain aching through the front of my leg. The next day I got up for my morning run but alas, there was no running to be had. I made an appointment with a physio, my very first physio, and he was a runner. A few tests were done and it had been determined that I had a stress fracture through my tibia. I had no idea what this meant, all I cared about was getting back on the road. Thinking it would be a week or two until I was back at it, I asked what every normal OCD person would ask, "how long until I can run"? His response, "6 months". I remember bursting out into tears right there in his office. He was so good about it too, and because he was a runner, he totally sympathized with me. Nevertheless, I had a choice, give up or push through.
During that 6 months I started weight training. I never really took a liking to it until I had no other choice for means of exercise. Because I was unable to even walk properly for about a month, I literally had no choice but to lift weights. Lifting weights lead to a passion for fitness on multiple levels, which ultimately lead to my career as a personal trainer. That's the Cole's notes version anyway.
I'd like to say I handled myself better when I encountered other injuries after that, but that would be a lie. For years I would cry, feel sorry for myself for a few days...ok for a week, but then something would switch. I would take some kind of good through the bad I was experiencing and just grab on to that, even if it was something tiny. I still get upset when I get injured, but not to the point where I'm literally crying and depressed for a week. Being injured has also taught me to slow down, and it's taught me to respect my bodies limitations. Injuries most often occur from excessive training or negligence, and they teach you when enough is enough.
Every injury will tell you something about yourself and will give you a sense on how you deal with conflict and how you are going to resolve conflict. What silver linings have you experienced through having an injury? These could be mental or physical, or even spiritual. Take the good out of the bad, it's in there somewhere, you just have to look. If you are injured and you're reading this, don't just take a mental note, write this down: What has this injury taught me about myself or my training? Write down your answer. Every time you're frustrated or want to throw in the towel, read your answer and push through. Injuries will come, but they will also pass. Be smart about recovery and rehabilitation exercises and seek professional help from physiotherapists, athletic therapists, or chiropractors and get yourself back on the road to recovery!