They're what all footballers dread the most. Injuries. Despite serious and intense pre-season preparation, they're sometimes unavoidable. They hit you all of a sudden, out of nowhere. They're almost inevitable.
1. When an injury strikes, don't think, just act: use ice, heat, a strap; the first minutes are crucial.
But it's often easier said than done, because you've already started asking yourself questions like:
- "Did I even hear it break?"
- "It's not that bad, is it?"
- "How long will it take me to recover?
- "Will I be back in time for the quarter finals of the cup?"
You need to avoid these types of questions. Put them to the back of your mind and focus on the present. Because your emotions and your subconscious take over quickly, almost brainwashing us into a state of denial.
When your manager, teammates, colleagues or your missus at home ask about it, you tend to play it down, saying: "No it's not serious don't worry, it'll be OK by tomorrow..." And the worst thing is you start to believe it, convincing yourself it's true.
2. You've got two options. Either mope about it, get depressed, or see it as an opportunity to come back stronger.
Attend a physiotherapy session instead of 5-a-side or go window shopping with the missus instead of that weekend derby. It's not easy and things will change in your absence. You just need to know how to make the most of your time out of the game.
3. Here are a few golden rules I can give you to help make the best of your injury:
- 1 physiotherapy session = 1 session of strength training/abs/push-ups
- Take your name off all your friend's 5-a-side mailing lists
- Go round the house putting away all round objects
4. And here we come to the final stage of this attempt to assassinate your inner footballer
The smell of blood has awakened your player's instinct. "Yes, it's over, I've beaten my injury!" Monumental mistake. Because an injury knows how to go unnoticed, hiding in the shadow so it can come back stronger.
So the last tip is to never, ever start playing again too early and with too much intensity. Try to silence that footballer's voice whispering to you: "You've got a match this weekend, you'll be fine."
Be reasonable, take it gently, join in with a few football games, play a little casual match at lunchtime with your colleagues.
This is the only way you'll beat your injury and safely get back to your peak. And believe me, it's worth it!