In the Elite Action Series, we explore proven strategies elite athletes have used to reach the pinnacle of their sports and how we can apply them to our lives beyond the playing field. Last time, we explored the strategy of focus. This time, it’s about healing’s role in elite performance.

Strategy 4. Treat Your Injuries

20090312 - Clint - foot x-ray - right (bad foot)
Photo by ClintJCL

Treating our injuries is part of the plan. It’s not the fun part. It sucks to be in pain. And yet we don’t heal if we bail on our treatment. We stay in pain longer and risk bigger setbacks.

When we push our limits in sports, setbacks are inevitable. We plateau. We get injured.

In 2004 I tore my ACL four months before the world championships. I treated it, recovered and won.

In the months leading into this year’s world championships, I had injuries in my shoulder and foot. The injuries affected the ambitions of my training plan, but the only way to bring my best available game for my teams was to adapt. I slowed down and got proper treatment. I sacrificed my desire level of overall fitness for the larger goal of showing up healed and healthy at the worlds.

By the time the world championships started, two cortisone shots had eliminated all shoulder pain while physical therapy had kept my upper body strong. Switching from running to the stationary cycle had reduced my foot pain while keeping me aerobically fit. I was agile and focused enough to win two world championship titles.

Injuries need attention beyond sports too. If we’re working ourselves ragged, we are injured. It’s a rare person who can train constantly without breaking down. Recovery time can be as valuable as high intensity workouts, especially for the brain. In our current atmosphere of 24 hour media stimulation, one of the best training advantages we can embrace is sleep. The mental breakthroughs and focus from a well-rested brain can close the gap between us and our rivals.

Relationships can also be injured. How many broken relationships in the office and at home are holding us back? How much more effective could we be if those relationships were healed?

Where are you injured right now, and what’s your treatment plan?