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    • It took several years to fully recover from a back injury that ended my participation in a recreational sport I enjoyed.  It was definitely the hardest sports injury to recover from compared to the sprained thumbs, stitches and leg injuries I’ve dealt with in the past.

      What was/is your sport and what was the hardest injury you’ve had to recover from?  

      Why?  

      Did it affect your self-image as an athlete while you were on the mend?

    • I love to run because I think it's core to so many things I love to do: playing with kids, hiking, tennis, skateboarding, triathlon... It makes me feel fit, I think it helps keep the weight off, and I love doing it.

      But I developed chronic achilles tendon issues with small tears, thickening of the tendons, and constant soreness. I consulted physical therapists, trainers and coaches. I tried strengthening exercises, ice, elevation, anti inflammatories and finally had to give up running. One famous coach said, "some people just have glass legs."

      It did affect my self image because I felt awkward and slow when playing with the kids.

      Then on a message forum someone suggested I try orthotics. The issue, they said, is my achilles was bending laterally as I ran because my ankles turn in. Orthotics would restore them to the neutral position — mostly straight.

      And just like that I was able to run again, pain and injury-free. I even did the Comrades Marathon in Africa (56 miles). Once I showed up at a marathon without the orthotics and was injured again by mile 13.

      So while the eventual solution was simple, the years leading up to it were very hard.

    • Thanks for inviting me to the panel. I am not entirely sure I have much to contribute beyond anecdotal things - I have only ever had two injuries to speak of, both in showjumping (that [Olympic] equestrian sport where you have to jump obstacles over a preset trajectory laid out within a 20x40m rectangle), and both were pretty minor, but one more funny than another one.

      The less funny one was breaking my left arm just above the wrist - the "standard" break that people get when they slip on ice and put their hand to the side to catch themselves - one bone broken, the other slightly fractured; contrary to the more reasonable way of doing it by falling on it, I broke it by making a bad approach to the obstacle, getting out of phase with the horse and then not letting rein slide fast enough - whiplash broke the arm, then I slid off onto the other side (I had a video so I was able to analyse). That was unpleasant but only cost me about 6 weeks in a plastic cast and some physio to recover (which was the most painful part, to be honest)

      The funnier one was when I was only learning to ride properly, and maybe jump over some sticks lying on the ground. It was a winter lesson. Under the riding jacket I was wearing a flannel shirt, in the chest pocket of which I had my passport for some reason (the internal Soviet one which serves as id, probably needed to do some bureaucracy that day, or something). It was in a leatherette cover which had tin corner coverings. I fell off (which was perfectly normal) and that tin corner went in between ribs and crushed a muscle in there. Took 7-ish months to heal properly and all that time I couldn't deep breath properly, and sneezing or coughing would cause tears to literally sprinkle from my eyes. It wasn't awful but quite embarrassing, of sorts.

      Did nothing to my self-image as an athlete because I never had one :D and my sports always were non-team ones (largest team was in equestrian sport - me and the horse).

      I just very recently found that I have a burst meniscus in my left knee, which for now denies me any chance to run or do other impact things; this is a bit bothersome/inconvenient, but I'm considering my options to get it fixed so I could possibly do some martial arts without much explicit impact-based legwork.

    • Endurance racing injuries... where to start?

      Anytime the body is pushed beyond the rational limits of normal endurance (just what is "normal" anyway?) we find the inherent weaknesses. If you're a touch on the masochistic side; you continue pushing those limits with subtle changes to the inputs and variables in an ever-elusive attempt to mitigate the wear and tear on the body. The elusive part being the ability to recognize what and when something changed to affect those weaknesses... be that in a positive or negative way.

      I've had the traditional injuries of bruises, tears, ligament and muscle damage, and one or two bones either bruised or broken (though I didn't know it was broken until after the fact). Those injuries are somewhat expected and really not preventable. Racing endurance and ultra-endurance bicycles off-pavement brings with it a plethora of physical challenges in the way of riding through, around, and over rocks, roots, trees, loose gravel, leaves, pine needles, etc... Combine those variables with fatigue, both mental and physical; and the risk level for injury skyrockets.

      My most difficult and personally debilitating endurance injuries stem predominantly from nutritional challenges, deficits, and my own inability to stop when the body isn't performing at peak form and output.

      The worst, to date, has definitely been an acute case of Anemia from my 2016 DirtyKanza 200 race. I cannot say what specifically triggered that response, but it took me over a year to fully recover from and feel confident enough to tackle another endurance race beyond about 4 hours in length.

      To this day, I still take an Iron supplement every day to offset that period in my racing career.

    • A single moment changed my life. It happened two years ago and is still fresh in my memory. I wrote about my accident and recovery here:

      After two years, I'm still climbing back to the fitness level when it happened. It takes time.

      Going through this recovery process, I've learned that broken bones become stronger when healed. The scars are permanent, but with time become less noticeable. They have stories to tell and lessons to teach. 

      The most important thing when overcoming injuries is to focus on healing and adaptation until fully recovered. There is always a silver lining in any life-changing event. Focusing on the positives is hard, but it is the most critical aspect of recovery.

      In the accident, my collar bone was broken in half in two places and flipped 180 degrees. The orthopedic surgeon told me that she didn't even know how to put a plate and screws to make it work, so she advised to wait and see if the bone heals itself. It was unnerving to hear that, but I also didn't want to go through surgery. So we waited...

      While healing, I tried to take care of my arm so that the collarbone heals properly. That meant diligently wearing a sling and monitoring my sleeping position to relieve any pressure. Every 3 weeks, I had an X-Ray to check in on the progress, and after 8 weeks, the collarbone actually healed itself. Even though there is now a visible bump and my range of arm motion is at 90%, I'm happy with that.

      The leg scars also healed faster with the advice that @Chris gave me: "Circulate the blood through the leg." So I did some light spinning on the trainer for a few weeks. My doctor was impressed at how well the scars healed.

      Here is a photo of me being released from the hospital after the accident. It was a very dark day inside my mind, and the pain made it very difficult to focus on the path to recovery. I didn't want to take any pain killers, and every step hurt like hell. I wouldn't recommend this to everyone. Still, it helped me be aware of the progress of healing and careful with specific physical motions.

    • Vilen,

      My collarbone is also the one I broke, but I did not know it was broken until long after I was released from the hospital, and the ER staff must have missed it. Luckily it healed on its own without any need to re-break but, like you; I now have a noiticeable bump where the bones mended and I also luckily still have full ROM with that shoulder.

    • Then on a message forum someone suggested I try orthotics. The issue, they said, is my achilles was bending laterally as I ran because my ankles turn in. Orthotics would restore them to the neutral position — mostly straight.

      One of my ankles turns out, not in. It was causing hip pain and back issues when I hiked more than four miles. I’m now more mindful of turning in during the beginning of a trail hike, but after a couple hours I can get distracted and suffer the consequences. Definitely will check out that option. Helpful tip!

    • I’m late to this conversation, but will add what I can.

      I can’t say I’ve had anything as serious as @Vilen and others. I did half ironmans for a while and would always get the nagging hamstring or groin strain here and there.

      But the worst injury I’ve had in my adulthood was an ankle injury. I played on a recreational hardball team (baseball) in Oakland and one day was running for a ball and completely folded my ankle over. But not the typical way. Most roll their ankle and tear on the outside. I did it the other way, so the tear as on the inside of the ankle.

      It didn’t need surgery (unless I wanted it), and so I embarked on the months long physical therapy schedule.

      I couldn’t run but in a straight line for almost 8 months. Any change in direction, or variance in the terrain would aggravate it. It took an entire year and a half before I was back to 100%.

      Ankle sprains are the worst!

    • Do you mean your toe turns out, as in being duck-footed as opposed to pigeon-toed?

      What I was referring to has to do with being bow-legged versus having knock knees. The key is having the center of the knee mass travel directly over the center of the foot mass.

      Bow legs is a very big risk factor because the shock-absorbing spring that is your arch doesn’t compress and absorb shock, so the shock gets fully transmitted to the knee, hips and spine.

      Not only that, if the knee is either inside or outside the foot mass, it takes side-to-side force, which the knee is not designed to take.

    • I’m not sure of the technical terminology, but my right foot tends to point more to the right than straight when 🚶 . Since this was pointed out to me on a day of hiking, I’ve been mindful to turn my right foot in when exercising or hiking. It’s not a perfect solution: I often forget after awhile of hiking or at the end of the day when my brain is mush. That’s why having orthotics make the correction for me sounds promising. Or did I misunderstand you?

    • It’s like alignment on a car. In car terms it’s toe in and toe out, which refers to whether the wheels are pointed straight ahead and parallel to each other. That’s what I think you have, some toe out. Orthotics won’t affect that.

      Camber is whether the wheel is vertical. If it’s not, your tires wear out on the inside or outside. They use so-called shims to fix camber.

      Orthotics are like those shims They fix the vertical alignment of your ankle.

    • Well, that’s good to know that orthotics won’t be of much help. I can say that there’s been a huge improvement from a year ago since I’ve adjusted my walking mechanics. Hoping to do some hiking in Arizona next month so we’ll see how many miles I can get in comfortably each day.