Every athlete will tell you they’ve had injuries. They’re a fact of life. CrossFit sometimes gets a bad rap because people on the outside feel the amount of lifts and gymnastics movements will cause serious injuries. I’ve been a CrossFit athlete for years and have never suffered a serious injury from our sport.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t had major injuries, however. During a rock climbing trip, I dislocated my shoulder and had a hell of a time getting back down the mountain. A few years later, I was in a motorcycle accident where I herniated a disc in my lower back. Those injuries were the price I paid for being active, competitive, and living life to the fullest. They also didn’t slow me down.
Injuries are going to happen. It’s how you deal with injuries and recover from them that make the difference between being a champion and a runner-up. There are a few things I’ve learned in my years as an athlete that have helped me during recovery, and they can help anyone else in the same spot:
- Get a second opinion, (or a third!)
When I suffered the herniated disc in my back, the first doctor I saw immediately recommended surgery. I wasn’t so sure. So I consulted with a few other doctors and eventually settled on a combination of non-invasive procedures like hot stone massage therapy and cupping, as well as acupuncture. I used the same treatments to heal my dislocated shoulder without surgery. Now, I’m not saying you should ignore your doctor’s advice, I’m just recommending that you get as much information as possible before you undergo a serious medical procedure.
- Stay positive
During the recovery process for both of my major injuries, and especially my minor ones, I didn’t stay at home feeling sorry for myself. I used those opportunities to work on other weaknesses. For example, when my shoulder was weak, it gave me time to concentrate and improve my squat. I turned a negative into a positive. Once I was healed, I was far stronger than before, because I had used that recovery time wisely.
- Have patience
I know I just mentioned that an injury to one body part gives you an opportunity to improve another, but you still have to use common sense. Listen to your body. Follow your recovery plan and don’t jump back in full throttle the minute you feel better, because you might injure yourself again and go back where you started. Take your time.
- Cassio Olivera