When Being Injured Can Be Good.

A great pic of my Dad with our dog Blackie from 1978.

A great pic of my Dad with our dog Blackie from 1978.

My Dad had a saying – “You never know when you are being lucky”.   Typically he would say it when I was feeling anything BUT lucky.  First boyfriend dumped me?  You never know when you are being lucky kid.  Didn’t get into medical school?  You never know when you are being lucky kid.

I think I pretty much felt like punching my dear Dad in the nose every time he said it, BUT in truth he was always right.

So I have found myself using the same phrase with the athletes I train.  Tore your groin?  You never know when you are being lucky kid.  I am sure they want to punch me too, but here is where the truth lies…

THIS is lucky?

Having an injury sucks, no way around it.  But, you don’t have to wallow in your misery and you don’t have to just sit and wait for it to get better.  Injuries do happen when you are an athlete – we wish they wouldn’t but it is a rare athlete who finishes his or her career without suffering any injuries.

When I worked at the Fowler Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic and now in the Revolution Conditioning gym, I always try to look at an injury as an opportunity to get better.  It might be an opportunity disguised as pain and frustration, but an opportunity nonetheless.

You see an injury forces you to stop ‘doing what you have always done’.  It gives you time away from practice and games.  It forces you to slow down.

Now some athletes slow down to the point where they sit on the sofa, play video games and wait for the pain to go away.

What I mean is slow down and ask ‘what is the next big thing’.  In other words, what is the thing that I can really improve now that will give me the most benefit over the rest of the season?

How To Get Back Quickly…

So here are my steps for getting back as quickly as possible from an injury:

  • Get it assessed by a good sport physiotherapist – find out what is really going on.  How many of you have just taken a few weeks off until the pain goes away only to go back on the ice and re-injure the same area or a related area?
  • Do what the physio says – unless they are one of those physios who just hooks you up to stim and gives you no active rehab to restore the range of motion, strength, etc.
  • Resist the temptation to just ‘test it out’.  Let’s say you have an MCL strain, do not repeatedly try out a butterfly position ‘just to see how it feels’.  You already know it is going to feel bad.  It is sore walking around, why on earth would you think it is going to feel good torquing on it?   This is akin to constantly ripping the scab off a cut – ‘oh look a new scab!’ …..RRRRiiiiiipppp!  Gross.
  • The first thing is to let the pain settle down – rest, ice, compress, elevate
  • The second step is getting back all your range of motion – pain-free
  • Then you start working on strength and stability.
  • The last step is power, speed and agility.

Look For The Silver Lining…

Now for the silver lining – what is the next big thing you can work on?  If you have a lower body injury you can work on:

  • Hand eye coordination
  • Stick handling
  • Watching video of other goalies – learning your position better
  • Reading a biography of great athletes who have overcome injuries
  • Read about sport psychology and practice your mental focus
  • Train you upper body strength
  • Find a cardio exercise you can do pain-free so that may be stationary bike or swimming or deep-water running.
  • Work on stabilizers in your torso, hips, ankles or shoulders – they often get lost in the shuffle and buzz of doing the ‘big’ stuff.

So hopefully you are doing a good job with your off-ice training, so the injury bug comes less frequently, but when it does come, look for the silver lining.  How can you use the time to your advantage? How can the injury make you a better hockey player?

I will be back later in the week with an off-ice exercise for you – no more talk of injuries 🙂

PS – I am using a new system for my Elite Online Training Group.  Before I release it to the current group, I would like some guinea pigs – that’s you.  I will knock $100 off the regular monthly rate, so it will only be $197 rather than $297.  You must be very serious about your training as this is an entirely custom training program for players who are serious about getting to the next level.  Most of the participants are college or junior players – so this is a nice way to get in and save some $$$.  Email info@revolutionconditioning.com with the subject line “ELITE ONLINE TRAINING” if you are interested and tell my why you would be a good fit – I will only take three at this price.  It is open to skaters and goalies.