Every athlete dreads the thought of getting injured.
Many injuries are often preventable and things like warming up and strength training are important ways to reduce the risk of injury even further. But unfortunately, injuries still sometimes rear their ugly head.
The first major injury that I overcame certainly came with many challenges but ultimately taught me a great deal about overcoming adversity in sport. On January 3rd 2017, I broke my ankle while training. The next day, I received a plate and screws to aid in my journey to recovery. For 3 months, I was using crutches and it was about 6 months before I could set foot on a wrestling mat.
That time was not all smooth sailing. I struggled with loneliness due to no longer spending time with teammates. More than that, my biggest fear was that I would not be able to return to wrestling.
But ultimately, I can say that my injury experience was a beneficial one that gave me knowledge just like all of the many ups and downs on the journey of life. Here are some of those lessons.
TAKE YOUR TIME GETTING BACK
The urge to fire a double again may be strong but the best thing that you can do for yourself is to take your time. I’m not blameless in trying to rush my recovery and admit to doing a few push-ups in a cast. In time though, I realized I needed to slow down and give my body time. Our bodies are amazing and have unbelievable capacity to heal. With diligent rehab and patience they will do just that - heal. So be patient, you will be fine.
GOT TIME? USE IT
Wrestling needs discipline . Between after school practice and morning workouts, wrestlers can get a little busy. And while the busyness of something you love isn’t an issue, it is a cool thing to be given time to try new things. Challenge yourself to make the extra time you have meaningful to you. Whether that means straight As, conquering a monster list of must see movies, or making new friends, make it a priority.
FIND YOUR SILVER LININGS
There is yin in every yang and there is a rainbow in your cloud. It is okay to not feel great about your injury but push yourself to recognize what the experience has given you. For me, it was more time with my family and time to reevaluate the pressure I often put on myself. So keep your chin up, you won’t find a rainbow if you’re looking down.
LET GO OF YOUR FEARS
Lastly, but most importantly, LET GO OF YOUR FEARS. Your thoughts make or break you. The good new is that your thoughts do not control you, you control them. So let go of your anxieties about not being able to return or not being as good. Think instead about what you can love about your current moment and how strong and able you will soon be again. Once you do return to the mat, let go of the fear of getting hurt again. When I began wrestling the summer and fall after my injury, I was constrained by the fear of getting hurt. This fear and the guarded wrestling it produced worsened my performance and ironically put me more at risk of injury. Fear like that will never help you. As hard as it may be, forget what happened and move forward.