Injuries come with our sport. That is a simple truth. Unfortunately, regardless of how well we take care of ourselves we cannot control whether injury will affect our bodies. Here are a few things that can be done to help cope with the complications of suffering an injury.
Primarily, seek help. For all you know the injury could be worse or better than you may think and the last thing you would wish to do is exaggerate the injury by failing to recognise basic symptoms. As swimmers we have a tendency to believe that when our bodies are hurting we must endure the pain to become better swimmers but in reality we can easily confuse pain for muscle pulls or strains.
Mental difficulties over coping with injuries are perhaps the hardest to overcome. It is frustrating to sit out from practice and competitions while your fellow teammates get to swim fast and utilise all the hard work put in over the course of the season.
It is not in our control over how fast other swimmers race. We can control our rehab process and use this as a time to improve other areas of training including perhaps flexibility, core stability or even nutrition. I firmly believe that getting back in shape in our sport is a much easier thing to do than fix our skills and outside problems. Therefore use this as opportunity to hone in on the skills which will help you in the long term.
Furthermore, when you do return from a long period of rehab do not let the injury affect your practice. It is easy to become fearful of the injury to return. Consequently we may put less effort into main sets or avoid the use of hand paddles and whilst this cautious approach can be wise upon immediate return to the pool, eventually this is simply out of comfort. If we are to truly enjoy our sport, everything must feel free as if nothing can stop yourself from reaching your goals.
Finally, sometimes as athletes we have a necessity to overexagerate our problems. A shoulder injury, whilst aggravating and annoying, is not the end of the world and in our lives there are going to be much bigger problems to deal with. So, let injuries be a test to our character. Do not let injuries demoralise our hopes but instead let injuries make us stronger individuals for life in and out of swimming.