While injuries in gymnastics are never fun, they are often part of a gymnast's journey.
With gymnastics being not only a high-risk sport but also a highly repetitious sport, it's common to become inured at some point or another along the way.
This might include an injury that comes on suddenly, like a broken bone or torn ligament. Or it might be an injury that worsens over time, like a stress fracture or an overuse injury.
Obviously the goal is to stay as healthy and strong as possible throughout your gymnastics journey, but if you're faced with an injury it's important to approach it with the best mindset possible so that you can heal quickly and return to gymnastics just as strong as ever.
Here are 7 tips for dealing with injuries in gymnastics:
Number 1: Acknowledge Your Feelings
Being injured stinks and it's easy to feel upset, angry, jealous, or like a victim when you first get injured. These feelings are all normal and are part of the process of going through an injury.
You might want to push those feelings down and forget about them but it's important that you acknowledge that you're having them. You might not be able to change them right now, but you can at least let yourself feel validated in that moment.
Number 2: Accept That You're Injured
When you first get injured you might not believe that your injury is as bad as it is or you might think it will all be better by tomorrow. You might deny that you're really injured. You might even think it's all a bad dream!
But being able to accept that you have an injury is an important part of the healing process. You want to be able to make a plan for healing going forward, but you can't do that if you're stuck in denial.
Number 3: Focus On What You CAN Do
It's easy to focus on all the things you can no longer do as an injured gymnast. You might even be still going to practice and for much of it you might feel left out because of your injury. It's hard to deal with these feelings and you might feel lost or sad for what you can no longer do.
Instead, try shifting your thinking to focus on what you CAN do as an injured gymnast. While you might not be able to do your full beam routines, you might still be able to do your dance run-throughs. While you might not be able to work on the high beam, you might be able to do everything on low beam. You might be able to do all your conditioning and then some.
So shifting your focus to what you CAN do while injured will help you stay focused in your healing journey.
Number 4: Keep Pushing - Just Not Too Far
Even though you're injured, it doesn't mean you have to stop pushing yourself from getting stronger or working harder on the things you can still do.
You don't have to take it easy on EVERYTHING, just the things that affect your injury. Make sure you get a list from your physical therapist or doctor that lets you know what you are able to do and what you shouldn't do.
Then make sure you are doing everything you can still do and pushing yourself to get better and stronger at it. This will help to keep you motivated and will allow you to build up those muscles, both physically and mentally.
Number 5: Lean Into Your Support System
When you're injured, you'll want a support system to lean on. Your support system could be your parents, your teammates, your coaches, your physical therapists, your friends, or other gymnasts who are also injured. It doesn't matter who those people are necessarily. It just matters that you lean on them for support.
Getting through an injury can be a long process and you're going to need emotional support. So make sure you don't isolate yourself from others. Instead lean in and find support from those around you to help you through this time. Always remember that the people around you are there for you.
Number 6: Focus On One Day At A Time
Your journey through this injury might be a few days, a few weeks, or even a few months! You have to stay committed to the long haul but at the same time, your focus should be on what you can do each day. You should take each day as it comes and try your best to focus on what you can improve on that day.
If you start focusing on how long of a journey you have ahead of you, you will lose motivation and focus. Keep your focus narrow during this time by taking it day by day.
Number 7: Spend Time Working On Your Mental Game
Injuries present a gift because you often have more time to focus on your mental skills. Yet most gymnasts forget about this when they're injured. They might let their emotions run wild and forget how powerful focused imagery and visualization can be towards helping them heal.
If you've been slacking on your gymnastics mental skills, then consider using your time of injury to put into place a consistent mental practice.
Those are 7 tips for dealing with injuries in gymnastics. Again, no gymnast wants to be injured but sometimes it's not always possible to prevent injuries. Use these tips to help you get through your injury and stay in the best mental state as possible.
If you or your gymnast needs support, in addition to the resources below I also offer one-on-one coaching sessions via Zoom.
- Resources: Get gymnastics downloads to help your gymnast work on her mental skills in gymnastics
- Mental Health Training for Gymnasts: Help your gymnast learn about her brain and the fight-flight-or-freeze response.
- Free Facebook Group for Moms of Gymnasts: Join this group to chat with other gymnastics moms and get tips for how to help your gymnast navigate through the mental ups and downs of gymnastics