Erin's Guide to Injuries

As a high school athlete, I've had my share of injuries. Since I've been a freshman, I've had tight IT bands, or pulled muscles after a cross country race, but since Nordic skiing and Cross country running are pretty safe sports, none of my injuries were very long term. 

This changed last November, after Thanksgiving.  I was on a distance rollerski with my teammates and tripped over a grate.  I had a shoulder subluxation, meaning it slid out and then back into it's socket. It was a shoulder dislocation to a lesser degree. 
Rollerskiing has it's ups and downs, but I still love it anyway!

In the beginning, I was okay, and while it was painful experience, I used the time afterwards to focus more on my leg strength, and I went easy a couple a weeks. It was a pretty easy recovery, although I was pretty restless. A month later, besides soreness, I couldn't tell anything weird had happened. I pretty much had forgotten about the incident. 

But, 2 months after the first fall, I subluxed the same shoulder again again on a ski. A couple weeks later, I subluxed it again. And then again, and after that I had a dislocation, and I had another incident, and another. 

In the middle of the spring, I had 3 incidents pretty close together. After that, I could tell they were getting a lot worse, so I finally saw a doctor. They said I had extreme multi-directional instability, and I could avoid surgery by tightening and strengthing my shoulder muscles and ligaments. 

I spent the whole summer in Physical Therapy, and I could tell it was working. Not only was I getting stronger, but I could swim comfortably, and train to my heart's desire. I was very proud of my improvement and very excited for my senior year ski season. 

Very excited for race season!

Everything was going perfectly, until the end of September. After an Under-the-Lights track time trial, I had another dislocation. It was the worse I had ever had, and I spent a couple hours in the hospital before I could go home. My whole arm was strapped to my torso, I flinched when anyone bumped into, and I was uncomfortable a lot of the time. I also had a broken heart. At this time, it was hard to consider any type of recovery fast enough to allow me to ski in the winter. 

A sling makes a nice accessory, am I right?

My progress moved very slowly, but I was able to rejoice in small accomplishments. I slowly got out of my sling, and I started a more athletic based physical therapy program, one that was committed to getting me ready to compete this winter. 

And while it seems I may have only made small steps in strength and speed in the past 2 months, I am much better off than I thought I would be at the time of the injury. I am gaining strength in my upper body, and learning how to use my core and legs to take some pressure off of my arms in skiing. I'm excited as I complete small goals everyday, and by taking it day by day, I don't feel too overwhelmed from what is to come in the upcoming months. 

Over the past couple months, I have learned a lot about how to deal with an injury. While I hope that you never have to deal with this, here are some things that have helped me along the way.

5. Keep things in perspective.  Time went by sooo slowly, when I wasn't able to train as much as I wanted to. Two weeks seemed like a whole month, and it made it seem like my progress wasn't as quick as I wanted. I felt like it was the end of the world, but in reality, it most definitely wasn't. Looking back, every injury I have had has had slight setbacks, but long term, they haven't affected me that much. Just see each setback you have as a small bump on your road to greatness!!

Skiing no pole allows you to be the team's official photographer!

4. Find things you can do. For about a month, I couldn't use my arms at all. This prevented me from any type of upper body strength, rollerskiing with poles, dancing, you name it! Although it was frustrating, I now challenge you to a no pole skate race! I channeled my energy into no pole skiing, leg strength workouts, and when my teammates were doing upperbody strength, I did stationary bike intervals. I wasn't about to let my hard work from the summer disappear, so I did practically every workout possible that didn't involve my upper body. 

3. Don't be stupid. This is a big one for me. As a highly competitive person, I tend to do stupid things when related to challenges, bets, dare, etc. After a couple (or possibly, many....) incidents revolving stupid things, I (finally) realized I had to change my mindset. I slowly started to think more and really guarded my shoulder. I am also very stubborn. The bad part about that, is admitting that sometimes, I have to stop. On my road to recovery, I really had to follow my intuition and sometimes going easy was my best bet. It was hard to admit to myself that I am not 100%. I can not do certain workouts, so I shouldn't force it when I start to feel aches and pains come on. Which leads to number 2.....
My friends and family helped remind me to stay positive throughout the past couple hard months

2. Listen to your body. I have heard many coaches say this, and as a high school athlete it's really hard to 'hear' what your body is saying. One of my biggest struggles was finding the line where I could push to get better, and where I needed to stop before getting more injured. It was extremely frustrating because some workouts I would stop early, and then feel like I was cheating myself because I felt like I could've done more. It took a little time to really figure out how to know when my body needed to stop, and that's my advice to all other high schoolers out there. Be patient. Sometimes you have to mess up before you figure out what is really right, but it will be better for you in the long scheme of things. 

1. Keep on doing things you love. I love skiing. It was very hard for me not to be doing it for a while, and I wish I would have remembered quicker that there are other things that made me happy. Right now somedays are harder than others, because I recognize that I'm not exactly where I want to be at the beginning of the season, but I can't really blame myself for that. I'm just chugging through, taking it day by day, rejoicing in all of those small victories. I had to change some of my goals, because realistically, I couldn't meet them that early in the season, but I'm still charging along, ready to do my absolute best in anything that is thrown at me. 

The Race Season will be full of surprises! I can't wait!


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