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On occasion, I like to reminisce back to a time when I was young and seemingly indestructible. A time when my ligaments felt like elastic bands, my joints like well-oiled bearings and my muscles like pliable plastic. I had endured bumps, bruises and scrapes, but nothing that a couple days of rest wouldn’t cure. Then, at age 19, I experienced my first true injury – a torn ACL. From this point on my perception of risk, reward, physical pain and challenge all changed.

Photo courtesy Anna Segal by Bruno Long.

Photo by Bruno Long

Since this first injury, I’ve become a professional on the topic. Not from the medical point of view, but from the patient’s perspective. After 6 knee surgeries, an ankle reconstruction, multiple metal plates, concussions, broken bones and a variety of other tweaks and spasms, I feel comfortable speaking on the topic. Each injury has taught me something new, not only about my body and how to best physically recover, but also how to get my head head back in the game. Here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Invest in professional help; whether it’s a physiotherapist, sports trainer, sports psychologist all of the above or more. Do some research to find the people that you gel best with. Different personalities work well with different people. Most importantly, once you have found the best fit, stick to the plan they lay out for you!
  2. Meditate. You’re going to have good days and bad days when coming back from an injury. Sometimes you will feel as if you are taking strides forward, other times you will feel you are going backwards. Yet, it’s important to not let these physical ebbs and flows affect you mentally. I’ve found that a daily meditation practice helps to keep my mind on the right track, so that my body can then follow.
  3. Schedule your time accordingly. Recovering well from an injury takes extra time and effort. Ensure you create room in your schedule to allow for these new commitments.
  4. Take it easy. This may mean missing out on a social occasion here or a training session there, but in order to give your body the best chance of recovery, you need to ensure it is getting a minimum of 8 hrs sleep.

Recovering from an injury provides you with opportunity to make more than just a come-back. If you rise to the challenge, it will reveal strengths and weaknesses that you never realised you possessed and inspire you to discover and instil new habits that will benefit your health for the future. As hard as it may be while you’re in the thick of it, try to take a positive outlook on the whole experience.

Photo courtesy Anna Segal by Aga IwanickaPhoto courtesy Anna Segal by Aga Iwanicka

By Anna Segal. Anna is former Olympian and professional freestyle skier who makes her home in beautiful Pemberton, BC.

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