It’s been four months since I tore my hamstring tendons while running. Ouch. It has not been an easy injury to recover from. Though I’m grateful for being as healthy as I am and for being on the mend since the day of the injury. I’ve learned a lot in the process about recovery. While I would never wish an injury upon anyone, if it does happen to you, here are seven lessons that might be useful:
1. You need to listen to your body.
To keep your recovery going in a positive trajectory, you need to become more in tune with your body and listen to it harder than you ever have before. It’s also important to watch, monitor and document your progress. Seeing improvement gives the mind some relief and the heart some hope.
2. You should get multiple opinions.
You've heard it before: Always get a second opinion. But really, get a second opinion or even a third. I saw three surgeons and consulted multiple chiropractors and acupuncturists before deciding not to operate on my hamstring.
The first doctor told me surgery was a must, the second and third told me the opposite. You want to make educated, informed and realistic choices for your body and your situation. That often takes a few different brains to figure out.
3. Build a support team.
Along the same lines as above, seeking care from various practitioners, body workers, healers, therapists, friends, family and whomever else you might need is crucial. Injuries can affect every facet of your life, so having support for treatment of the actual injury, the rest of your body, your mind, your spirit and your heart is so crucial.
I mentioned I saw three doctors, but I also have two acupuncturists, two chiropractors, a physical therapist, a mental health therapist and amazing family and friends. Never underestimate the power of having people who check in on you.
4. Celebrate the small victories.
I live by this theory, but it is especially true when you're working your way back from injury. Get excited about every step of the journey. Not every step will be in the right direction and that's ok. It's part of the process.
I was so excited when I could bend my knees in an attempted squat assisted by the TRX. It was more of a "squat" than I could do the weeks before. Then I squatted unassisted. Then with a little weight. Then with plyo. Then with more weight. These little victories come every day and they make the steps backward easier to deal with.
5. Relish in the chance to start over.
Often, not always, the injury occurs because of some sort of imbalance. Muscular, skeletal, mental or circumstantial. Now is the time to go back and fix movements and patterns. Now is the time to rebuild from the ground up. While an injury is not the most ideal circumstance, you can find the positive in getting to do a little physical and mental reboot.
6. Realize how amazing your body really is.
Whether you broke, tore, strained, pinched, pulled, burned or cut your body, it is healing. Even if you had surgery to help repair it, the body is still healing itself on its own. How cool is that? I was seriously injured and now I can run three months later? The body is an amazing thing.
7. Remember there are no days off in recovery.
That doesn't mean there aren't days of rest. The two are different. Rest is a part of healing; every day is a part of the process of recovery though. You can’t forget that it happened for a day. That is when you risk potentially re-injuring yourself. If a day off or many are needed, take them, but don’t take them without being conscious about it. Ninety-eight percent better is still not 100 percent. Stay diligent, stay humble, stay in tune.