What to do after an injury

So….I ran today. For the first time in over 6 weeks, I ran. It wasn’t pretty. It was short. It was slow. I couldn’t breathe. I had a cramp in my side and my ankle was aching. In fact, I’m pretty sure this applied to me today.

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We’ve all suffered injuries. I did six weeks ago. I trained all summer for a 5K. Then I sprained my ankle and couldn’t run. I could hardly move. I had just gotten to the place where I liked running. I actually enjoyed it. (That was a shock to me.) And then….nothing.

Not all injuries are physical. Some are internal and emotional, caused by family or friends or pastors or churches.

Whether it’s a physical injury or an emotional one, there are a few things we need to do after an injury.

  • Recognize It
  • Rest It
  • Recover
  • Reconnect

Recognize It

Usually this isn’t the hard part. Pain is an indicator. It’s the first sign that something is wrong, usually followed by other symptoms like swelling and bruising.

This injury was easy to recognize. One second I was running the XC course with my daughter, and the next I was limping and crying my way back to the car.

Several years ago, however, I broke my other foot, and I walked on it for 5 weeks because the symptoms weren’t as dramatic. It wasn’t as easy to recognize. But the longer I walked on it, the more it hurt, so I finally went in to get it checked. Sure enough….it was broken.

For some reason, when we’re hurt emotionally, we try to hide it. Deny it. We pretend it didn’t happen and try to go on with life like normal, like I did with my broken foot. That’s a train wreck waiting to happen.

Recognize it. Call it what it is. You can never heal properly until you do.

Rest It

Rest. I don’t do that well. Sitting still and doing nothing is not my cup of tea. Especially with three very active teenagers. But if I wanted to heal and heal quickly, I had to rest it. I had to sit still and do nothing with my foot propped on a pillow with an ice pack. I had to stop all strenuous activity.

Give your self permission to rest. It does wonders for recovery, physically and emotionally. Just like it’s okay to sit still for weeks with your foot up and an ice pack after spraining your ankle, it’s okay to slow down and stop doing normal activity when you’re recovering from an emotional injury.

He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. (Psalm 23:2)

We have to slow down enough to let him restore. Restore our souls. Restore our emotions. Heal the broken heart and make us whole again.

Recover

Recovery includes rest, but it’s so much more than that. Once you’ve rested and let it heal, the real process to recovery begins. And the more serious the injury is the longer it take to recover. A cut takes days. A bruise takes weeks. A sprain takes a month or two. A torn ACL can take a LONG time and require surgery and months of physical therapy.

And recovery can be painful. P.A.I.N.F.U.L. (Did I say painful?) And experiencing that pain can cause a lot of people to back away from the recovery process. They stop the PT and just stay where they are. Stuck. They never get back full strength and full use of what was injured.

Why?

Nobody likes pain. No one enjoys it. The natural reaction to pain is to back away from what’s causing it. In most cases this is a good thing. You want to pull your hand back from a hot stove so you don’t get burned. That would harm you.

But this kind of pain doesn’t harm you. It actually helps you. Helps get your strength back. Helps get full range of motion back.

The same is true with emotional recovery. There is pain in recovery. You bump up against what we call “triggers,” which are reminders of what caused the pain. And triggers make you want to draw back and stay away.

Don’t stop. Look those triggers dead in the eye and face them. Work through them. Get past them. They will stop hurting eventually if you do the work of healing.

Recovery isn’t easy. But it’s so worth it to get strong and healthy again.

Reconnect

The last step is to reconnect. Get back to doing what you were doing before the injury. Today, for me, it was running. It wasn’t pretty or as fast or as strong as when I had to stop, but at least I got back at it. I’ll get to where I was eventually and even go beyond that, but the first step is to start.

When I was in 6th grade, I broke my arm doing a back handspring. Both bones of my left forearm snapped in half. After 4 weeks, they took an x-ray and it wasn’t healing properly. So, they had to re-break it and cast it again. You heard me. Re-break it. 🙁 I spent six more weeks in a cast. Fun, right? Ummm….no!

It was traumatizing. And I never went back. I never tried another back handspring again. I regret it now, but fear of breaking it again gripped me, and I let that hold me back from doing something I enjoyed.

Don’t let fear of getting hurt again keep you back. Don’t let it keep you from living your life and doing something you love. Real life is this: You will get hurt. You’re going to get some bumps and bruises along the way. But God will be with you the entire way. He’ll buffer the pain and help you to heal.

If you’ll let Him, He’ll take you through the painful process of recovery and help you overcome the fear. He’ll use what you’ve gone through to help someone else. And there’s nothing like that feeling.

I’ve gone through some pretty painful things in my life. Things that took my breath away. Things that I wondered at times, “Will I survive this?” But I did. And so will you. Press into Him. Let Him walk you through the process. It’s worth it. Trust me.

Trust Him.

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