Handling Injury: How to Stay Positive and Come Back Strong

For outdoor enthusiasts and athletes, injury is avoidable but, often, inevitable. Whether it’s a major injury that sidelines you for an entire season or something minor that takes you out of the game for a few weeks, it can be tough to keep an upbeat mindset when you can’t do what you love. Wanna beat the injury blues and return to your sport full-force? Here’s how.

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Don’t Neglect Physical Therapy
Depending on the injury, you may be prescribed a round of physical therapy. Take advantage of this wonderful resource. Think of it as essentially having your very own personal trainer, only they’re training your body to heal instead of perform. If your PT is worth their salt, the performance aspect will come later as you start to progress and build strength.

Can’t afford a ton of PT sessions or your insurance limits your number of visits? That’s okay. Many of the exercises your PT will have you do can be done at home or at your gym. Be straight with them by saying you can only come once a week or once every two weeks, then ask for worksheets and plans to do on your own. They’ll understand and they’ll hold you accountable.

Swim. Seriously, Swim Like It’s Your Job
Particularly therapeutic for knee injuries, swimming is the perfect low-impact cardiovascular workout. Clear it with your doctor and physical therapist first, then buy some goggles and get going.

Not sure where to find a local lap pool? Check out your local recreational centers. They typically have lap swim and their prices (for residents) are usually much lower than more high-end gyms.

Go on Adventures (Even If You Can’t Fully Participate)
Irritated tendon in your hand from climbing? Torn ACL after an epic ski weekend? Shin splints after a big race? It happens. If you’re out of the game for a bit, that doesn’t mean you have to stop attending events or socializing. In fact, continuing to hang with your outdoorsy friends is good for your mental health and will help you to cope.

Friends going away for a ski weekend? While they’re on the slopes, hit the massage parlor and hole up in a cozy coffee shop. Maybe meet them for drinks on the mountain. Just because your body can’t do what you’re use to it doing doesn’t mean you have to become an invalid. Get out and explore all there is to do when you’re not obsessively practicing your sport.

Listen to Your Body First
If you have a major injury, everyone will have advice for you. Your doctor, your best friend, your dirtbag buddies, the dude on the street who notices you have a limp. While well-meaning, these people are not you. Their advice may be good generally speaking but, in the end, all injuries are unique.

That being said, listen to your body, your doctor, and you physical therapist first. You’ll notice that listening to your body comes before your doctor or PT. You know yourself and your body better than anyone. If you think you need more rest, a different treatment, or that you’re ready to go harder, then rest it, seek it, do it. That being said, remember that your doctor and your PT are professionals, committed to getting you the best care they can give.

Your body is smart and miraculous. It knows what it needs. Pay attention to it.

Consider Alternative Medicine
Modern medicine is amazing. Orthopedic surgeons, podiatrists, and a variety of specialists have so much to offer. You should 100 percent be consulting with a specialist, particularly if you have a major injury. However, supplementing your care with less traditional methods may be a good choice for you.

Consider acupuncture, massage, or reflexology as alternative treatment. You may even want to consult a herbalist to see what foods, herbs, and vitamins can help your healing process.