Written by: Amelia Kirby @Oatmealia
In cycling, it is a common refrain to hear that “crashing is a part of racing”; that being said, there is only way to learn that- the hard way. While crashing is inevitable, proper recovery and treatment is not. Recovering from an injury is a skill as important as training and nutrition. Messing up your recovery can mean jeopardizing the rest of your season, which as we all know is a worse-case scenario. This was not my first crash of the season, but going down the last day of racing at Intelligentsia Cup would be the one to take me off the bike and force me to face proper recovery.
I'm sharing my current recovery strategy and 'off the bike' lessons to help other athletes manage their own injury in a more positive and healthful way. These are tried and true methods to stay sane and get back to racing asap.
Do what your doctor says. To people outside of sport, this may seem like a no-brainer, but getting on the bike is never more tempting than when you’ve been laid up for an extended period of time. If the doctor says 6 weeks until activity, it's probably not a good idea to wrap yourself in athletic tape and go for a long ride the day after your injury (we've all tried that and it NEVER works out well!!). Especially in cycling, a sport that cherishes grit above all and you're expected to jump right back in the race even with blood gushing from your knee... Sitting it out is a tough concept for athletes, but the big picture and long term health is more important.
Eat well. Being injured makes it hard to maintain a desired weight, and the angst with that will only impede your mental state. Even more importantly, continuing to eat healthy will help you physically recover faster. Focusing on your complete nutrition routine, including supplements can be extra beneficial during this time. I've found adding iron (because women, especially athletes struggle with getting enough) and Swisse Ultiboost Glucosamine Sulfate to help support joint/ cartilage flexibility and overall health to help heal my current injury and prep my body for less damage in the future. While injured, the body is firing on all cylinders to try to heal as fast as possible so give it an extra boost through supplements & healthy food.
Keep routines. Even something as simple as making coffee in the morning can be beneficial in keeping you moving forward through the day. Having things that make life feel normal will make everything smoother in the process. If allowed, light movement and exercise during the time of day that used to be filled with training will also help to keep “feeling like yourself”. Being an athlete is a factor of identity, and being without those training routines can feel very difficult.
Stay positive and patient. Perhaps the easiest tenant to tell others but not self-practice; patience is a key to recovery. Regardless if the recovery is two weeks or two months, being patient with the body and process of healing is the ultimate test. Longevity in the sport is goal (along with health and happiness), and keeping mentally buoyant is imperative for this. Meditation, therapy, and other brain exercises can substantially improve recovery. Always remember that happy athletes perform better and if you've met me, I'm always smiling! A broken body does not have to equal a broken spirit!
While by no means is this the definitive list for getting through an injury, if any bit can help, pursue it. I'm finding the most important factor is to keep energized and motivated to get back at it. Being smart about your injury will help you come back stronger than ever!!