There is one thing that every sportsperson dreads and that is injuries.
As an athlete, injuries are inevitable. It's simply impossible to place your body under the kind of stress that we athletes must endure on a day to day basis and not have some sort of backlash every once in a while. For the most part this will be in the form of minor aches, muscle strains, bumps and bruises. But the problem is when you sustain an injury that prevents you from partaking in your sport for an extended period of time. This is obviously a major problem, especially for professional athletes as not being able to compete in your sport means a loss in earnings. There is also the issue of regression as a result of the lack of training. And then there's the phycological aspect of suddenly having all this free time and no out let.
How do you cope with this set back?
The loss of earnings I have no idea what to do about. For me and the majority of Muay Thai fighters in the UK, the money earned from competition is not anywhere close to being enough to live on, especially if you live in London where rent alone can set you back over a grand a month. So i'm sure, for the majority at least, we all have jobs that give us our main income outside of Muay Thai. There is an extra problem here for me however as my main income comes from teaching Muay Thai and so any injury which effects my ability to compete can also have the potential to effect my ability to teach. This is something I have had to deal with a lot over the last two and a bit years and I've developed various coping methods such as learning to hold pads with just one hand and learning how to instruct verbally without a visual demonstration as a result. Neither of which are ideal but they have kept me working and earning.
I am currently recovering from a torn hamstring and a ACJ sprain which have kept me out of action for the last 5 months. For me one of the main concerns I have is the lack of progression and the opportunity for regression which could occur if I can't practise my art. Muay Thai is a competitive sport and the idea of standing still while every one else is making waves is grinding. I myself, like every competitive athlete, want to be the best and even more so I want to be the best that I can be, so not being able to train hard and compete is horrible. What I have learned to do is to focus on what I can train and develop those areas rather than worry about what I can't do. In truth the weapons you can't train will only regress slightly and will not take long to bring back up to speed once you have recovered and are training them again. The areas you focus on in the mean time, however, will receive an unprecedented amount of attention and time devoted to them and will improve more quickly than you would have thought possible. So in reality you can actually improve your skill and overall technique as a result of being injured. I know this through experience. Many of us are very stuck in our ways when it comes to training and don't change much or work on many new things, which is not necessarily bad because good basics make good fighters, but doing something different can never make you worse. It can in fact change everything making you a better athlete than you were before.
So not being able to fight for the last 5 months has left me with more free time than I can remember having since my days as a would be RnB singer. For the last two years I think I can count the amount of times i've been on a night out on one hand. But, suddenly, I've found myself with nothing to train for and very little training I can actually do. Inevitably I've needed to find things to occupy my time and also take my mind off of my injuries, so partying on the weekends, drinking and hanging out with friends has become part of my routine. The danger is when this becomes a lifestyle you start to feel accustomed to and the idea of 'train, eat, sleep, repeat' seems like a very unappealing prospect. The key is to find balance. Yes you should relax while you can and let your hair down a bit but don't forget that ultimately you are an athlete and you need to treat your body with respect. Also its good to keep some sort of routine with your training otherwise the lack of discipline will make it very hard for you when you are recovered and suddenly thrust back into full time training again.
Try to enjoy life and don't let being injured get you down. Remember as long as you're improving thats the most important thing. So keep working on what you can and when you are back on form you'll be shining even more brightly. I know I am looking forward to being fighting fit again and doing what I was born to do!
Hope you enjoyed reading this post and found it helpful.