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Training & advice

Can you benefit from injury?

For many runners injury-time is the most depressing and frustrating situation they can be in. Not only is your running-goal or target compromised but you have to watch the calories (or face gaining a few pounds) and you have to stay at home instead of meeting up with friends for a run. You may be surprised then, to hear, that some studies suggest that injury-time can be beneficial to you!

A study, carried out at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff, interviewed 10 previously injured athletes to look at how they may have actually benefited from being injured and whether being injured could actually improve their performances in the long-term.  The group chosen were white, male team-sports players, as previous studies indicated that this group are most injury-prone. Running is an individual sport and attracts people from every social, ethnic, age and gender group but there are lessons for each of us in the results of the study.

The researchers split their findings into three areas: immediately (becoming injured), during (rehabilitation) and after (recovery). This is a summary of their findings:

Becoming injured

 

Actions

Benefits

  • Finding out why the injury happened by speaking to others
  • Looking in books and the internet
  • Knowledge of anatomy and injury risks
  • Understanding of emotions
  • Expression of emotions
  • Wider social network

 

During rehabilitation

 

Actions

Benefits

  • Reflecting on previous training
  • Observing others’ training sessions by attending training or assisting the coach (or leader)
  • Learning about nutrition and weight management
  • Working on flexibility, strength, balance, co-ordination, posture
  • Researching injury prevention

 

  • Gaining perspective
  • Better relationship with coach (or leader)
  • Technical and tactical awareness
  • Improved nutritional intake
  • Increased confidence
  • Improved flexibility, strength and conditioning

 

 

After recovery

 

Actions

Benefits

  • Putting things into perspective
  • Coping with adversity
  • Reflecting on the experience
  • Increased mental resilience
  • More caring and unselfish
  • Empathy with other injured athletes

 

The key factor is that running is for the long-term.  It is a journey that isn’t always smooth. You will face adversity and disruption from injury, illness and life in general but this doesn’t have to be a backward step. The study shows that you can turn this into a positive. If your training programme is disrupted and you are unable to meet your targets and goals then you should decide when it would be realistic to get back into training and re-write your goal. You can then move on with your journey and part of that journey  may involve the three stages above. If you become a more robust runner because of learning, training, experience and mind-set developed through being injured then maybe all of us should get injured more often  - only kidding (!) but, seriously, we should perhaps do all of the above whether we are injured or not!