When serious athletes take up a sport, it becomes part of their identity. The sport is all they want to do, and they feel comfortable in their place on the team. They survive and thrive under the intensity of training, and live for the competition. But when all of this gets ripped out from under them, an athletes’ world can get turned upside down.
Injuries are frustrating for everyone. But for athletes, the healing process coming off an injury is painstaking and arduous when the only thing they want to do is get back on the field. Although the physical healing is very important, the athletes’ mindset needs to be in the right place as well. They need to be focused on getting better and healing their injury, but not rushing through healing in order to play again.
Juliana Villano, a soccer player of about twelve years, has suffered two ACL injuries. “During my first recovery, I was very upset and confused because I kept thinking why it had happened to me. I never thought it would have been me in that situation so once I was cleared and was able to play again I was extremely excited,” she says. “Then when it happened again, I accepted that everything happens for a reason and I just need to work hard to get back to where I was and want to be again.”
For an athlete, an injury can seem like a world-ending catastrophe. Given, sometimes an injury can be career-ending, but often full recovery is a possibility. The first step to recovery is to accept that the injury will prevent participation in sports. Taking a little time off to heal is better than trying to play while injured; the injury could get worse if it is strained during exercise. Sitting out of the sport for a few weeks, maybe even a few months, is better than risking permanent damage and staying off the field forever.
This also means that there is no rushing the healing process. Whatever the injury may need to help it heal- ice, heat, physical therapy- the player cannot put it off because they want to be back on the field. The player needs to take all the time off that the injury needs to heal properly, or they could harm the injury.
Many athletes do not take the time they need to heal because they are worried about the opinions of their teammates or coach. Coaches would rather that a player returns from an injury fully rested and ready to pour one hundred percent of their effort into the game. Although they want their player back in action, coaches respect that their players are taking care of themselves and their injury. In regards to the team, teammates are an athlete’s biggest supporters. They should want their teammate to take all the time they need and get better because if a player comes back and is not healed all the way, it will only drag down the performance of the rest of the team.
“If I were to give advice to someone in the same position I would tell them to work hard because, with no work, they won’t receive their desired results.”
Injuries are frustrating, but they hit athletes harder than anyone else. Athletes need to be patient with themselves during the healing process, because in the end, taking the hiatus is worth it.