Emotionally Recovering from a Physical Injury

by Sally Andersen

It was raining and rush hour, but that shouldn’t matter. I was following the rules of the road and staying in the bike lane. I was even wearing a neon pink helmet, reflective shirt and had my lights on. Regardless of the lengths that I went to insure my safety on my commute from track practice to teaching Pilates, I found a fate that far too many city bikers are seeing: I was run over by a careless driver.
I am one of the more fortunate ones: I survived, and without any broken bones. But that doesn’t mean that the accident is behind me now, even two years later. Aside from the chronic pain, there are a lot of emotional issues that come into play after a major accident – anxiety over getting back on the road, anger at the person that ended your season and made your hard training count for nil. Healing emotionally is something that I have struggled with.

The turning point for me, when I stopped being a victim of my circumstances and got back on track to being the athlete I know I can be, happened in yoga class. “How are you today?” asked the owner as I signed in. Such a simple, everyday question. “Ugh. I’m having a bad day,” I sighed back. Then, something clicked and I quickly changed my answer: “No, it’s my hip that’s having a bad day. I’m doing ok.”

It was that moment, that sudden realization that I am not my injuries, that changed everything. My injuries no longer defined me. They were simply a road bump in my training that I need to create a plan of attack for. After writing out and following a detailed training plan for myself that included injury and pain management techniques such as stretching, foam rolling and myofascial release, I am excited to say that I hit the road running again this month, taking third in my age group in a local 5k and first in a NYC mud run (which I did with 15 lbs of bricks on my back!).

It takes conscience effort not to compare my times and performance to my pre-accident ones, but every day, with every one of these choices to only look forward, I get one step closer to putting the emotional struggle behind me

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