Injuries are inevitable in sports. Some are easier to bounce back from than others. Not even two weeks after being on could nine from winning Nationals did I face my first big injury of the season. I was racing in a co-ed madison out in Rochester Hills, Michigan when several riders in front of me collided. I was sitting 3rd wheel and T’d into the rider in front of me which sent me flying off the bike. When I was younger I took tumbling classes and I think they’ve paid off. I somersaulted and then flipped onto my back which caused the side tabs of my vertebrae to fracture.
(Here’s what paying my hospital bill is going to look like)
Having a broken back sounds much more dramatic than it is (or at least in my case) but trying to convince my mom of this over the phone was not so easy. I bruised my kidney’s and had punctured the lower sacks of my lungs as well. My treatment options were as followed: take time off and take it easy, that’s it. There were no other options. As most endurance athletes know, being told to not do anything is almost as harsh as having to work for the first summer post college graduation.
So here are my guidelines for dealing with an injury:
Step 1: Grieving
Coping with your injury: your friends will tell you to stay strong and to stay positive, but they will also take cruel photos of you while you’re in the hospital so what do they know…
Step 2: Deal with your FOMO (Fear of Missing Out)
That’s right, your friends are going to keep training and racing without you. Those bas#%^$%& . All of a sudden that lame race ride you’ve avoided now seems like the coolest event that you desperately wish you could attend….You’ll be fine
Step 3: Catching up on calories
While your friends are out getting fast you’re in fear of getting fat….You’ll be fine.
Step 4: You’re never going to be fast again!
(Slowmo is cool with it, you should be too)
No, that’s not true but that thought will cross your mind an awful lot…. You’ll be fine.
Step 5: Trying to workout despite your injury
Don’t- I know you’re thinking about trying to anyway but it usually leads to muscle compensation and more severe injuries down the road. Ya, you probably won’t be fine if you do this.
Step 6: Coming to terms and then going over board.
Binge watching on Netflix! This is honestly the best part of any injury and in true American fashion I say, ‘go big or go home’. I highly recommend House of Cards and Scandal.You’re welcome.
Step 7: Re-Set Goals
It’s hard to admit that you may lose some of your fitness during your injury but resetting goals is a good way to keep your motivation while still being realistic with your injury…You’ll be fine.
Step 8: De-active your Strava Notifications
Unless you want to get a bunch of emails about how everyone is out stealing your KOMs and how you’ll be getting a bunch of PWs (Personal Worsts). This also takes us back to Step 2, your friends are jerks.
Step 9: Be grateful for technology!
For me the biggest issue with my back was all the muscle spasms. The Marc Pro machine was a great tool for rehabbing my injury. It allowed the muscles to contract and loosen up without putting any strain on the injury.
Rocktape was also a contributor in my road to recovery. It helped expedite the bruising and stabilize the area when I resumed training.
Set 10: The Silver Lining: Trying new things.
Since we know you don’t have any hobbies outside of cycling.
*Huge thank you to Erika Fulk who took such good care of me during my injury and Brian Adams, an amazing PT out in Michigan that helped me create a rehab plan to get me back on the bike. Thank you Adams Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy!