As athletes, there are a few things that we become accustomed to. 1.) the extreme amounts of food we eat, 2.) the fact that we could literally fall asleep any time, any place, and 3.) our susceptibility to injuries. Whether it’s an elbow injury to a tennis player, or a shoulder injury to a swimmer, injuries can be scary because of the setbacks they can cause. As a swimmer, I have suffered tons of shoulder injuries, as well as a recent ankle injury. I had never been completely out of the pool until my PT told me to take a full week off due to my ankle injury. When I first heard this, I was angry, sad and scared.
I immediately began to think about all the training I would be missing, and how out of shape I would get. The next couple of days brought curiosity and fear. To make sure I didn’t get too out of shape, I was hitting the gym everyday, working on my core and upper body. I stressed out about not being in the water, so I sent an email to my coach from California asking what I should do, knowing that my summer training program with him would be starting in a few weeks. He told me that I should stop worrying about my temporary setback and focus on what I could do. He told me that I should continue working on my upper body strength but also focus on school and using this situation as a mental learning experience. I learned fairly quickly that if I continued to stress about my injury, then I would never get better.
So I began to focus on my school work and my mental strength. To stay in shape, I really began to watch what I ate, and did a little bit of upper body strength work every day. I am now in the healing process and hope to be back in the water in a few days. The biggest lesson I’ve learned from this scary experience is that injuries are only temporary setbacks. You are not going to have to quit your sport because you are out for a week. Learning to overcome these hurdles only makes your stronger both mentally and physically. So whatever you are going through right now, just know that you will get through it; and you will come out stronger than ever!