Overcoming Injury

June 28th, 2024 by JoAnn Cranson

By:  Olivia Perrine

Nearly all athletes will face an injury at some point in their athletic career. Perhaps even multiple injuries. Injuries that keep you from competing at your best are not fun to say the least. At separate times during my junior year, I experienced two stress fractures in my right foot while running track, cross country and playing club soccer. It took me around 4-5 months each to return to my previous level of competition. During this time, I had to adjust my training and lifestyle to recover. Here are 5 tips I found helpful in overcoming injury:

Seek out Professional Medical Help

  • This may seem like an obvious step, but often people avoid the doctor because they think their injury isn’t serious. However, it is imperative to seek out professional advice if the injury is persistent and prevents you from competing or training at your best. Doctors can help keep you from making the injury worse and can provide insight into the root cause of the injury (if it isn’t obvious already). Doctors can also refer you to specialists or physical therapists to help meet your specific needs. Doctors also have access to equipment such as MRIs or X-Rays that determine the severity of the injury. 

Physical Therapy

  • Personally, I have a love-hate relationship with physical therapy. It is helpful for building your strength back up, however it can be difficult, even frustrating, when you do not see results right away. PT is often a slow process that requires patience, but staying consistent pays off. Also, when you go to PT, you have a Physical Therapist who will monitor your progress to ensure you recover  as quickly as possible from your injury. PT is also helpful for the mental side of injuries. When I was dealing with my stress fractures, it was encouraging to be doing something about my injury. For me, PT was one of the most important steps in overcoming injury. 

Cross Train 

  • Like PT, cross training was helpful for staying positive during recovery. While PT is more injury specific exercises, cross training can help with general strength. Exercise is shown to improve mood, cognitive function, sleep quality, etc. Even if you cannot do your sport, there are low impact options like swimming, biking, or weight lifting that may allow you to be active during injury. Before starting any cross training however, it is important to talk with your doctor about which exercises you can do without upsetting recovery. If you experience discomfort with your injury even in cross training, it is important to stop. It is not worth prolonging an injury.

Stay Active in Team Events

  • Even though you might not be able to compete, you can still show up for your teammates! One silver lining with having an injury meant that I could now cheer on my teammates that I normally was racing with. Even though you want to be competing, if you are faced with an injury outside of your control, you should focus on what you can control such as using energy to support the team. Athletic Mentors has countless volunteer events to partake in where you can spend some energy for the team’s sake. This kind of support is important in establishing a positive team environment. Also, if it were the other way around, you would likely want your teammates cheering you on too. 


  • Rest is not always what we want to do as athletes but when dealing with an injury, it is the most important thing. Your body cannot heal if you continue to break it down by training or competing. You may think that it isn’t a big deal if you just push through the pain, but when making the decision to race or rest, you need to think about the long term impact. Serious athletes need to remember that just because the short term self might be fine if you ignore the pain, your long term self may end up dealing with a worse injury. The only way you can heal is if you give your body the time to heal. Some of the most common injuries that athletes face are caused by overuse. Getting an overuse injury is your body telling you that it needs rest. Listen to it! 

It is discouraging when injuries prevent us from taking part in the sport we love, but implementing each of these steps can help you focus on what you can control (getting rest, doing PT, going to team events, etc.). Remember that the injury and pain is temporary. Your body will heal itself, it just needs you to look out for it. Choosing to take care of the long-term athlete by following each of these steps will help you make a full recovery. 


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