Bouncing Back after an Injury


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  64 comments   :  25,136 Views

Hi, dailySpark readers! I’m Emily from Daily Garnish, and I am excited to write my second guest blog post for the site (read my first one here). Today I'm going to share some tips with you today about bouncing back – both physically and mentally – after being sidelined by an injury.

Over the past few years, I have somewhat defined myself as a runner. From the moment I jogged my first block I was hooked on the exhilaration and sense of accomplishment that running brought to me. I started with my very first 5K, worked my way all the way up to marathons, and raced nearly every distance in between.

On a rainy day last October, I was crossing the street on my way to a haircut when I was suddenly struck at full force by a large SUV. The minute I hit the pavement and felt the burning in my legs, I knew that I had more than a few bumps and bruises. As the ambulance raced me to the hospital, my thoughts drifted to the half-marathon I was scheduled to run that very weekend, and my sixth full marathon that I had trained to run at the end of the month. I was grateful to be alive, but also knew that the damage to my left knee was going to forever change who I was as an athlete.

The next few months brought a range of emotions – from gratitude to depression, anger to sadness, and everything in between. Days that were previously spent running, biking, and lifting weights were suddenly spent laying on the couch feeling sorry for myself. Over the course of the following days, weeks, and months – I discovered that allowing myself to heal emotionally was just as important as the physical healing process.

Now four months later, the memories of the accident are vivid in my mind, but as simple as a scar to the outside world. Throughout my path to healing, I learned several valuable lessons about how to deal with an injury:

Give yourself time to heal – both physically and emotionally, you need to allow yourself to feel everything you are feeling. The most important part of any injury is a complete and thorough recovery. As frustrating as it may be, sidelining yourself temporarily might be the key to getting you back on your feet sooner and stronger. And in the meantime…

Discover new talents and interests – before my accident, I completely defined myself as a runner. But eventually I learned to use the time I used to spend running in new and exciting ways. While I was couch-bound, I finally found the time to start reading more. I worked on new writing projects, and caught up on all the computer work I had backlogged for months. Once I was on my feet, but not quite ready to run, I embraced other forms of fitness that were less stressful on my body. I found solace in yoga, and learned to appreciate the slowness of a nice long walk.

Don’t make comparisons – when I eventually did start running again, I was afraid to see how much fitness I had lost during all of my downtime. It was hard for me to just embrace the fact that I was moving again, and not focus on how much slower and out of shape I felt. I realized that the best thing I could do was celebrate each new success, as dwelling on the past only moved me backwards. Think of yourself as an entirely new athlete – one with new goals and a new appreciation for the sport!

Find the silver lining – while it can be very easy to focus on the negatives of an injury, it is much more productive to search for the positives! While I am a little slower and a bit rustier than I used to be, I appreciate running much more now than I ever did before. I took losing my ability to run to make me realize just how special it makes me feel.

The most important thing when returning from an injury is to make sure you are fully healed and cleared by a doctor to resume activity. Now that I am back on both feet, you can follow the rest of my journey at Daily Garnish!

Have you ever experienced setbacks due to an injury? How did you keep your spirits up?

Editor's Note: Just yesterday Emily announced on her blog that she's expecting her first child in October. Head on over and tell her congratulations!

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  • 14
    Awww...congratulations on the baby news, Emily. Best wishes. Thanks for the inspiring blog. - 3/8/2011   10:42:42 AM
  • 13
    I have ankle/foot and sometimes knee injuries that set me back and I am currently totally frustrated. Thank you for your blog; it has given me encouragement. - 3/8/2011   10:37:28 AM
    The blog is great and I love your spirit! - 3/8/2011   10:28:44 AM
  • 11
    This is so timely. I just found out today that I have the beginnings of a stress fracture and can't run any of the races I had planned on, including one this weekend. I'm SO FRUSTRATED but it's good to see that other people have been through the same thing. - 3/8/2011   10:00:31 AM
  • 10
    I just checked out the Daily Garnish, and had to comment that your dogs are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing your story. - 3/8/2011   9:50:54 AM
  • 9
    I am glad that you are progressing in a satisfying way. I know how you feel. I was on my way to getting back into shape when I had a shoulder injury that sidelined me. I was stuck in a brace for 6 weeks and had to go through months of rehab - slowly. All of the things that I love to do (swimming, running and riding a bike) were off limits for a whole year. I am now getting back into shape and I have lost 21 pounds. Keep it up and you will get there too! - 3/8/2011   9:39:54 AM
  • 8
    I'm glad you are doing well. Although my injury wasn't as dramatic as yours, it sidelined me for 6 months. I 'rolled my foot' a year ago causing major stress to everything inside my foot, but it didn't actually break anything. Walking was painful and I felt like I would never heal; however, limiting stress on the foot and icing to keep down swelling eventually helped all the tendons and muscles heal. I am able to do whatever I want now - running, step classes, etc. - 3/8/2011   9:22:06 AM
  • 7
    Glad you are doing ok!!! - 3/8/2011   9:11:21 AM
  • 6
    I love the blog. . .great information glad you are doing well. - 3/8/2011   8:58:15 AM
  • 5
    I'm a huge Daily Garnish fan and am so excited to see Emily posting at Spark! Hope to see more posts from her in the future! - 3/8/2011   8:55:20 AM
  • 4
    Gosh - all I did was strain or pull a muscle in my ankle, saw the blog and thought, "This might help me!" I was shocked to get to the part about you getting hit! I'm so sorry for your injury, and so thankful you're OK! Thanks for the wise words, and for sharing. - 3/8/2011   8:55:06 AM
  • 3
    My sister was hit by a car while out jogging, too, and broke her back. She's having to deal with the same things.. the doctors told her no running for a year! She is trying to make the most of it, though! - 3/8/2011   7:50:10 AM
    I fell on ice on February 4th and broke my right wrist and dislocated my elbow. I had been introduced to yoga in December and was devastated to learn that there was so little I could do due to the lack of weight-bearing ability. I admit I wallowed and felt very discouraged because I was sidelined. I did however, manage to still lose 2 pounds for a total of 60 so far and the doctor told me at my check-up yesterday that I am making amazing progress, for which I give God and yoga credit! Thanks for your blog, it helped validate my feelings and to see light at the end of the tunnel! - 3/8/2011   7:13:36 AM
  • 1
    Very inspring and insightful! - 3/8/2011   6:20:34 AM

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