Everything is black, I can’t see. I try to move but I am strapped to something. Where am I? What has happened? I can’t remember a thing… I hear a familiar voice of a friend that I go riding with and then the voice of the girl I know works with paramedics at a bike park. I realize that I must have had a pretty bad crash. “She still thinks she lives in her old flat” my friend says to the paramedic. My heart starts racing, my head is spinning and I think to myself: “Oh shit… this is bad…”
My name is Helena Werner and work with mental training and stress management, mostly coaching and inspire how to set healthy goals and to perform during extreme situations. My background is coaching within the Swedish police and athletes. I love the mountains, training my bird dog Luci, van life, and living simply.
Loving an extreme sport or lifestyle means that life can be thrown in a completely different direction at any time. Injuries can happen to anyone and can be minor or massive. Either way, it will probably change your life for a period of time. I have broken a couple of bones in my body due to riding bikes and lived with chronic back pain most of my adult life. To keep the fire going, I have used my knowledge as a mental trainer, so in this article I´ll share with you some ways to deal with injuries. And remember, injuries can be more than broken bones, it can also be an illness, burnout, or the loss of someone you love.
Let your body heal.
When something is broken your body will do everything to fix it. For your body, this is a stressful mode that is going to take a lot of energy and you will probably be very tired during the first days/weeks of your recovery. This type of stress needs to be treated the same as a very hard day at work or a tough workout; you need to rest, eat and drink well! Resting doesn´t only mean staying in bed, but you for sure will need to sleep well, but also do things that make you happy.
Acceptance – “this is the situation right now”
If you are an active person, resting for longer than normal is probably not your favorite thing. Being in the moment, here and now, is much easier when things are great. Being stuck in a rough moment with only your thoughts can be hard.
If being injured means that life sucks, hurting yourself is going to be something you dread. Highs and lows, they are both a part of life. It is ok to feel low and sad about it, but still, it is a part of life and everything passes. Imagine when you are all well again and look back at your time as injured, how do want to have spent it? Self-loading, or making the best out of it? In every low and high, there is a moment to grow. Set a new goal, how can this experience benefit you on your way to reach your higher goal?
Fear of missing out.
I might have been a hell of a lot better rider by now if I had not missed out on so many rides and seasons due to injuries. But I would probably not have been as mentally strong as I am now. I´ve cancelled trips, work, and lots of fun things. But I´ve had some fantastic moments during my injuries too and experienced love and support beyond my imagination. I wouldn´t want to be without that! Focus on what you have and what you gain, instead of what you lose. It will help you come back stronger!
Stay with your team.
If you can, keep showing up for practice and do what you can. We all have a need to feel part of something and others. Isolation should not be a part of recovery. So as much as you can, stay with your riding buddies, even if it is just for a coffee after the ride or the chat before.
Ask for help.
You are not a burden! If you are used to doing most things by yourself it can be very hard not being able to function like before. If a friend was injured, would you not want them to ask you for help instead of struggling? Remember, your body is busy fixing you, so save your energy and let people help.
If you notice that you have a tendency to crash on “the last ride” or right before lunch, maybe try to take a step back and chill, or eat. Get to know your limits and needs!
… After a couple of hours, my memories started to come back. The back of my head took a big hit on the bed rocks, which led to temporary memory loss. Poor Sandra who had to listen to me loop the same sentence over and over again for 3 hours! (Thank you!!). All good in the end, maybe I need a punch in the right direction to get back on track!
Last but not least… get a good helmet and insurance!
Photos: Jason Shill, Helena Werner