A fact in the life of every active person is the inevitability of getting injured. While the circumstances that surround the actual injury or how serious the injury is are important that’s not what I want to focus on.
I want to focus on a method that will help you recover and get back on the mat as fast as possible.
1. Make a choice. Commit to not being the person who says, “…I used to be good, before my injury of…” blah blah blah. In a deeper discussion you discover that this guys injury happened years ago and the current issue is the result of him not taking care of it correctly when it happened. Make a choice to come back the same or better than you were.
2. Get help. Recovering is truly a team sport. In my situation I have an Active Release Therapist / Chiropractor who I see 4 times a week and a massage therapist I see weekly. This is even when I’m healthy. So it was logical for me to team up with these guys after an injury. But it goes further than that. I got injured on a Monday class – as soon as I figured out how bad it was the next day – the problem to solve became “what do I need to do to get back on the mat?” Rob (the Chiro), Sophie (the massage therapist) and I (and my wife Kim) each played a role but our mission was the same – get Z back on the mat fast. So Rob did his joint manipulation stuff, Sophie did a her muscle stuff and Kim took care of the dog walks and made it easy for me to conduct my normal life. In 2 weeks I was back on the mat. But the team work didn’t stop. I worked out a plan with Weiner Sensei and my Sempai Brent-san so as to be as conservative as possible. As I saw more of my dojo family, they all realized I am injured and each person has been extraordinarily accommodating. It takes a team to recover effectively.
3. Come back slow and be hyper aware. Although I have teams helping me, my recover is exclusively my responsibility. For me that means if a movement causes any level of discomfort I back off. I’m constantly aware of my threshold – I can do that because I move in out of movements very slowly because I am “seeing how I feel”. The second I perceive pain, I stop, stretch and go to something else.
4. Give yourself more time than you think is necessary. Recovering from an injury is the one time when being a sissy is ok. You can’t allow peer or imagined pressure to modify your thought process and take risk. Save risky stuff for when you’re back 100%.
As I recover from this injury I realized I’ve never been here before. 49 years old, recovered from 100’s of injuries – big and small – over a 40 year athletic career that encompassed both amateur and professional levels.
This time I’m an Aikidoka. I’ve discovered that even in an injured state with my limited range of motion I am “feeling movement”. I’m still doing Aikido. It’s not the same as what I was doing a month ago but what I’m doing right now is truly my Aikido. Then it dawned on me – injured or healthy Aikido may just be what we choose to make it for ourselves at that specific point in time.
How cool is that?