Injuries suck! There I said it. But, let’s be honest, no one expects to go into an average day that ends with their world upside down. In fitness, injuries are bound to happen at some point, and the attitude you have toward these situations can be the determining factor in the length and process of your recovery.
Soon after getting into fitness, the world of injuries introduced itself to me. After returning to college from summer vacation, I vivaciously unpacked my belongings in the dorm, conversed with a few friends, and laced up my running shoes. I ran out the door onto the familiar path that began on the east side of campus and followed the river all the way across. As I approached the stadium, I waved to some friends and felt the weight of humidity hanging on my shoulders. As I rounded the corner, I felt a pull in my knee, unlike anything I had ever experienced. I immediately felt my stomach turn to knots and dizziness swept over my head like the winds of a violent hurricane. I fell to the ground and closed my eyes, gripping at my knee and trying my best to breathe. My mind began to wander. Had I torn my ACL, MCL, PCL? Do I need surgery? What if I never run again?
Then, I realized I could still move my leg, and my knee had not swollen much. I could put pressure on my leg without too much pain. I walked back to the dorm and drove to the doctor’s office. Once there, the doctor moved my leg around, feeling for cracks and pops. He twisted my leg, and I immediately burst into tears.
“Looks like your cartilage is pretty worn down,” he said, setting my leg back on the table.
Admittedly, I was pretty upset when he put my leg into an immobilizer that I would need to wear it for at least three months. The brace stretched all the way from my hip to my ankle and made me walk with a limp. It was devastating to think that I would not be able to run for three months, but I really had no choice. The first week, I found myself sulking but soon realized that pity wasn’t going to get me anywhere.
That afternoon, I went to the gym. I lifted weights and focused on exercises to strengthen my core. I soon found myself in a nice routine and began to see the effects of my new workout. Three months later, I was able to start strengthening my leg again. After an additional month of strength training, I was able to go for my first run.
My injuries did not stop there.
In December of 2015, I faced another injury. Like every other Tuesday, I met my friends at a rock climbing gym in Denver. We climbed a few routes and decided to try climbing “the cave.” Named for its slanted wall. I began on a V2. I strategically tried to maneuver my hands and feet and soon realized I wouldn’t be able to grab the hand-hold above me. I felt myself fall, my legs hitting the mat, and heard a loud crack. Instantly, I felt dizzy and looked down at my left leg, only to find a distorted image beneath me. I didn’t feel any pain, but immediately knew something was wrong. As I began to cry, I fell onto my back. My friends rushed to my side. I could feel my body’s violent shivers. Everything was blurry. An EMT wheeled me into the ambulance. At the hospital, I learned I had broken my femur. I had surgery, which included placing a titanium rod into my leg, and was discharged from the hospital a few days later. The entire process was traumatic, but the recovery was the hardest.
Once again, the thought plagued me: I will never run again. I could barely move, which made it even harder to imagine even trying to run. After a week minimal movement, I decided I needed to stop pitying myself. On Christmas Eve day, I picked up weights and managed to do an entire core circuit. The weeks following, I got stronger and was able to start walking without crutches. By the end of January, I went snowshoeing, and six weeks after my surgery I ran my first mile.
Injuries are preventable, and it’s important to take care of your body. However, when an injury occurs, it’s important to remember that you’re strong. With hard work and a good attitude, full recovery is possible.