Coping with Injury and Illness

This section is not written by a doctor or physiotherapist but by an athlete who has been unfortunate enough to have plenty of experience of both of injury and illness over the years.

There are a few important things to bear in mind when you are ill or injured. The following is not intended to sound patronising or lecturing, but instead to help you take proactive steps to recovery.

Firstly, most injuries and illnesses can be recovered from relatively quickly. What is important is not to exacerbate the situation by trying to return to training too quickly. In a lot of cases this will only extend the amount of time you are sidelined for.

Not panicking is part of the above. It is important to remain objective and plan a course of action which is going to get you back on track in the quickest sensible amount of time. This may have to be done in conjunction with a doctor or physio. As a general guide I find that it takes me about as long to get back to full training as is took from the start of the problem to the time when I could start low level exercise. This will vary from person to person and ailment to ailment.

When you are ill you can't do any exercise, but I feel when you are injured it is important, as much for your confidence as your fitness, to keep training in whatever way you can. Initially, this will mean only performing exercises that don't involve the injured area. For example, with lower leg injuries it is often possible to swim or cycle perfectly safely. Also upper body circuits and weights are generally okay. If in any doubt about what you can do always ask a professional.

Finally, when you are building back to full training make sure that you increase the intensity slowly and don't risk any re-occurance of the problems. The old adage of ensuring that you can walk before you can run is not only metaphorically true, but also literally so.

Above all, as far as your future in the sport is concerned, getting the problem completely sorted and yourself back to normal is the most important thing.