Sports injuries are almost inevitable amongst athletes. Whether they are small niggles from over training, strained muscles or broken bones from crashes, they can become a debilitating part of every athlete’s career. Sometimes it’s not just the pain of the injury itself, but the frustration of not being able to push yourself in training and the constant reminder of being held back.
I was recently involved in a bike accident where a car pulled across my lane without looking, hitting me head on. I suffered a dislocated shoulder, broken humerus, fractured scapula and lacerations across my shin and knee. Subsequently, I had a shoulder operation a week later and started out on the long road to recovery. After overcoming the initial couple of days of shock and realisation, the first thoughts on my mind were about how I was going to keep my body fit and get back into training as soon as possible.
Speeding up the recovery process
With plenty of spare time on my hands I started researching ways that I could speed up my recovery. There are a number of simple means that I found helpful, which include:
- Drinking plenty of water
- Eating healthily
- Getting plenty of sleep
- Consuming regular protein drinks as well as vital minerals and vitamins such as zinc, magnesium, calcium and vitamin D
- Avoid drinking alcohol as it can slow the recovery process
Maintaining fitness during the recovery process
Staying fit whilst recovering is difficult to achieve without being able to take part in regular training sessions. However, depending on the injury it may be possible to incorporate means of staying fit without aggravating the injury further. This is important as maintaining fitness during recovery will ultimately reduce the amount of time it takes to reach the level of training you were at before sustaining the injury. A number of ways that I found helpful include:
- Taking regular walks to raise heart rate above resting
- Getting plenty of fresh air which can help relax and develop a positive mental attitude
- Focus on strength and conditioning exercises
- Work on core stability
Focusing on areas that may hold you back during training, such as core stability, is a great way to keep active and add productivity to the recovery process. Adding strength and conditioning exercises to your routine can also help to prevent reoccurring injuries in the future. I found that once my knee had healed, I was able to start doing some light strength work (body weight only) which included squats, single leg squats, lunges and calf raises. My next focus was core stability work. This is something that I don’t do enough of during the racing season, so it felt great to be doing something that would benefit me massively in the future.
My coach offered a great piece of advice during my recovery, which was to set a number of targets for myself. Setting and achieving simple goals made me more positive and gave me the determination that I needed to work on my recovery. I’m currently well on the way to recovering now and I’m hoping to get back into racing later on in the season.