Bouncing Back after an Injury

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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!