My Melbourne marathon bib arrived yesterday and with a sigh I put it aside knowing that this year I will be a DNS (did not start). Small in the scheme of things, missing out on competing in a planned competition or missing an important event due to injury is frustrating.
Having my dominant hand out of action for 2 months now has made me reflect as a physio on the importance of good advice, physical and emotional support and careful planning for managing a prolonged injury and rehabilitation.
The difficulty of putting on mascara with your left hand, or blow drying hair are not first world problems but surprised me how much these daily tasks frustrated me. Not being allowed to run meant missing my daily stress management jog leaving me cranky and irritable.
Here are some simple hints to help you through your injury journey.
Before leaving your doctor, physio or hospital make sure you are clear on what you can and cannot do. As professionals we assume we have spelt out restrictions only to have a client come back and report they have been doing things they shouldn’t.
If you can’t use a body part such as your hand, think about how that impacts on your daily activities. Believe me opening the shampoo bottle with your teeth tastes awful. Getting up a ladder can be downright dangerous. Divide activities into those that you need assistance with and those that you can adapt to yourself.
Ask for help. Team cooking in our house has become the norm although my son doesn’t like being called the apprentice chef! Thank those that help as increased load can put stress on a household and remember others will do things differently to you.
For tasks that you can adapt to, a few things need to be considered. Performing tasks differently can load other parts of your body and create new issues. In the case of a hand injury your shoulder can be abnormally loaded or with a leg injury, the other leg may struggle with increased load. Ask your physio for hints on avoiding this and manage new symptoms quickly.
Keep the rest of your body as active as possible. Maximising your fitness will assist with recovery and keep you positive. Your therapist can develop appropriate exercise programs that protects your injury.
Set goals from day one. An understanding of the length of recovery, the rehabilitation process and long term outcomes are important in planning for the future. Set small short term goals to get you through the early days of your injury. Discuss with your treating professionals where you want to get to in the end. Progress can seem non-existent at times. If frustration creeps in, think back to a week or a month ago and reflect on the small things you can manage now.
Have a support team and discuss your frustrations and fears. Injuries can impact on all facets of our lives including financially, socially, on your self-esteem and relationships. Your treating professionals are a great place to start.
So as I put my race number up on the notice board, I’ve already started seeing myself at the start line in Melbourne in 2017. The goal hasn’t changed, just the time frame.