Updated: Apr 14
Injury is a bit of boogeyman in sport. It's an evil spirit that ties you to your sofa when all you want to do is head out and train. It's a curse that undoes months of hard work. It's the universe telling you it hates you. Or is it? It sounds like a really corny cliché but injury can also be an opportunity to finally sit still for a minute, break out of the tunnel vision of routine and reflect, learn and move forward. Sometimes, injury is just the thing you need to get to the next level. Allow us to explain.
When in full training, good athletes focus on sustainable growth by embracing their rest days, keeping the overall load under control and doing all the little things right. Bad athletes just smash themselves as hard as they can day in, day out without much thought for the bigger picture. In either scenario, there is an ever-present risk of injury. When it eventually strikes, the difference between the good and the bad athlete lies in how they react to it. If handled well, there are 3 main ways that injury can make you better than you were.
Physiotherapy/Sports Therapy to the rescue
For many athletes, the physio can be like the dentist. They hate going because the mean doctor is just going to tell them off for not doing the stretches and S&C they're supposed to be doing. But what if we flipped that perspective and instead saw it as an opportunity to find out more about where our weaknesses lie and where we could improve?
It could be something as simple as just incorporating a few activation drills into our training sessions - just 5mins of lunges and leg swings before we hop on the bike, for example. It could be a bit more time-consuming and require a bit more equipment and thought. All in all, understanding how our body works and where the knots lie in our kinetic chain can only do us good. Head to the physio's office with a notepad and jot some stuff down next time.
Let's get philosophical
You like clichés? Here's another one: sport is all about mentality. If you're going through an injury right now, you're no doubt being very brave about it. But there are deeper lessons to be learned in all of this frustration. Patience! Your body won't heal any faster simply because you want it to. When you're eventually cleared to ease back into training again, your fitness won't come back quicker if you jump the gun and start smashing yourself like you did before injury struck - on the contrary! Patience is a virtue, in sport like anywhere else.
It's a lesson in humility, too. Nobody is above the laws of physics, and nobody is immune to ouchies. That's a lesson Becky Lynne learned the hard way. Injury can be a good reminder to trust your body, the process and the experts guiding you through your training. Learn to control what you can control and let go of what you can't. It just might save you and your coach a boatload of stress and allow you to make huge jumps forward by compounding marginal gains.
A bit of perspective
Injury is a reality check. Athletes tend to put blinders on themselves to get into the groove of consistent training. Taking training seriously often means sacrificing other things and carving out significant time in the schedule that could have gone to other things. Injury smacks those blinders straight off. Suddenly, we can hear the birds chirping again. We have time for that lie-in, we have a spare hour at lunch to catch up with the missus/hubby, we've got an hour in the evening to call our mum.
This is a good thing. The vast majority of us are not professional athletes, and even if we are, it can't hurt to have some perspective on the place sport holds in our lives. Realising it's not the be all, end all of our personal fulfilment could take significant pressure off of training sessions and races. Hell, it might even make them twice as enjoyable! We can easily lose touch with the social aspect of sport, and that's a real shame.
Easier said than done
We hear ya. You're probably thinking something like "well, that's easy for you to say!" and you're right. The best thing to do is still to avoid injury and we sincerely hope you never get injured ever again. All we're saying is that injury doesn't have to be a forced pause in the training journey - it can be a part of it. You might not be able to lace up the trainers or get in the saddle, but that doesn't mean you can't still improve as an athlete.
Most importantly, it doesn't mean you're not still a part of the community. Don't fear the FOMO to the point of shutting yourself off from what you love. If you're injured and can't join the SUMMAT club runs, why not still show up for a coffee with the group at the end? We'd love to see you and we're great listeners. Let's vent and laugh about it.