Injuries happen: What you can learn from getting hurt
While I can’t say that I’m an adrenaline junkie, for whatever reason, being on vacation makes me want to experience adventure that I wouldn’t otherwise consider. Maybe that’s why on a recent trip to Costa Rica I couldn’t resist the brochures promising breathtaking views and beautiful waterfalls, just an ATV ride away. Along with that ATV ride was a life-changing experience – I had an accident and sustained a serious injury.
One bad turn led to a lengthy recovery
My injury occurred a couple hours into the ATV experience. One bad turn and I remember hitting the dirt with such velocity that if the searing pain weren't enough, the bone protruding from my arm convinced me this wouldn't be speedy recovery.
As a fitness professional, and a driven individual who loves a challenge, I wasn't prepared for it to come in the form of a long-term recovery. But 12 weeks later I'm happy to report that injuries can be an unexpected blessing. If you don't believe me, read on.
Lessons learned from getting hurt
One day you're doing plank work and developing a chiseled core to die for, and two months later you're having serious doubts you'll ever be capable of that position again. It's humbling, but here's the upside: As you make your way back to your pre-injury state, you appreciate how hard your body works to achieve the simplest movements. Every ounce of strength you gain and increase in ROM is a success you can celebrate. Yesterday you may have bragged about your 10 one-armed push-ups; now, suddenly, being able to lift your arm above your head is enough to make you cry tears of joy.
Every day I want to go out and push it, as we all do when we get injured. But the chance of getting re-injured and starting over again has stood as a deterrent. If that's not true for you, talk to a physical therapist about some of the things they've experienced in their line of work -- you'll realize that your recovery is relative compared to the lady who fell off the elephant in Africa. Working through the process one day at a time may be more than you bargained for. But recognizing how far you've come should convince you that patience really is a virtue.
Post-injury, I have greater empathy for the frustration my clients feel when they can't overcome a plateau or execute a movement properly. But even if you don't do downward dog for a living, you learn that the recovery process comes with fringe benefits. When supervised by a professional, body awareness increases, form improves and proper techniques are learned. Once you understand your body and your injury more clearly, you're no longer a victim, but a person who is in control of her recovery.
Bottom line: Sometimes we take our bodies for granted, and an injury gives us an unexpected wake-up call. The good news is that it can be a blessing as we learn to appreciate the power of humility, the glory of patience and the advantage of new perspective.