The problem in life is that sometimes we focus so much on the goal that we forget we will get there more comfortable and quicker if we remove the obstacles. Obstacles are guaranteed in life but where is not guaranteed is how we handle them. Injuries are an obstacle for all athletes and to get around them, you need an injury and illness prevention program. Most athletes know what they want from their sport, they know where they want the sport to take them, but they are often not prepared for an injury that will block their way. The number 1 obstacle for athletes is injuries because they take you away from doing what you love and stop you from consistently getting better. Here is where the focus should be.
How I Learned I Needed an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
When I got to Iowa State, I was so excited about being a D1 athlete that the only thing I focused on was winning and being great. There is nothing wrong with this, but as I said above you must always be aware of the danger and obstacles or else they will catch you by surprise.
I never once thought about being injury prone or that injury could jump up and strike me at any time. That idea did not even cross my mind. Someone would say that is positive thinking; I would say that is stupid thinking. If you evaluate a situation and prepare for the worst case to happen that does not make you cynical, it makes you realistic and prepared. You can expect the best in life and still qualify for things to go wrong because they do all of the time.
All of my plans in college were quickly dashed away because I had no Injury and Illness Prevention Program
- Freshman Indoor Season – Missed entire season with a back injury
- Freshman Outdoor Season – Had a season-ending back injury after the conference meet
- Sophomore Indoor Season – Hurt hamstring at the conference meet
- Sophomore Outdoor Season – Missed entire season with a hamstring injury
The pattern was not looking great for me. It was at this point that I decided that I had a bit of a problem and my focus on success and results were not helping me. I needed to make a change, and I needed to make one that kept me healthy.
How could I ever be great if I could not be healthy? Every time I got hurt, I missed practices, I missed competitions, my self-esteem was damaged, I was set back, my coach became confused, and none of these things were helping. The most significant obstacle in my life was my ability to stay healthy.
The Cost of Injury When You Don’t Have an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
The injury comes with a high price tag. We never really think about this price tag though because again we focus on coming back. Success is the result of small efforts put in over an extended period. Consistency has always been the key but with injuries, but here is what most peoples career looks like.
- Good training
- Bad Training
- Good Training
- Bad Training
The problem here is that there is no consistency. Every time you get some momentum going, it gets halted with lousy training weeks because you are dealing with a growing injury, and then you get hurt! Then from there, you have to start from square one and work your way back to where you were. When you finally get back, another problem begins to creep in.
Once you get caught in a cycle like this, you have to put 100% of your focus on breaking it. You need consistent training to get better. You need constant reps with new skills and old skills to keep improving, and you can’t get that when you’re limited by an injury.
The other cost of injury that we do not calculate is the mental drain of injury. When I was in college the number 1 reason people quit was an injury. The reason they said they stopped was that they were not improving at all, but the idea they were not developing was that they were hurt all of the time.
Mental Health Needs to Be Accounted for In an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
Mentally injuries have a significant impact on your self-esteem. It is not easy to get up every day and grab a set of crutches and feel good about yourself. It is not comfortable to sit and watch practice on the sideline when you have a boot on your foot. I remember the hardest part was dealing with not being a member of the pack anymore. You can share the pains with your team you feel like everyone is just getting better and leaving you behind. It sucks!
When I was in college these moments made me want to go home. It became so hard to bare. To know I had so much talent that I could not use. All I did for the first two years of my collegiate careers was rehab and try and get healthy.
Injuries Create More Injuries, So You Need an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
The entire body is connected meaning that every injury has a long-term effect on the body. You often see this with ankle sprains. One ankle sprain can cause you to change your gait when you run which can cause a new injury. The ankle roll can create problems for your knees and hips because of your foot compensating when it hits the ground.
Now we are starting to get compound problems here. One injury can create three new injuries, and each of those injuries can create even more injuries, and everything starts to spiral out of control.
When you think of injury, you have ever had, this should scare you a bit because it means that they can all create an infinite amount of problems for you. Sometimes getting healthy means going back in time and rehabbing old issues that you never dealt with the right way.
The New Focus is on an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
It is not that winning or improving not important they are, but they are often a result of many other things. For example, when someone says they plan on making a lot of money, I usually say “that is a great result, but what process are you going to incorporate to make sure that you are on the right track?”
The same goes for being an athlete. Winning is a great result, but it often means you have to stay healthy as well as do a bunch of other things right. If you don’t get those little things right, you will never get to the goal you have set. So instead of just coming into the season focused on the wrong something, we are going to make your number one priority is staying healthy.
Everyone needs something different to stay healthy. What I am going to do is identify some key areas to look at and some essential tools you can use to make this happen.
- Be honest about what is hurting you now
- Develop a realistic plan you will follow will keep each injury at bay
- Be willing to lose some battles but don’t forget the war
- What injuries have you had in the past?
- Do you have injuries that were never appropriately rehabbed?
- Are some of these injuries still problems today?
- Develop an honest plan to make sure these injuries are no problems today.
- What muscles are always tight even though they may have never actually been injured?
Download the Injury App
- Kho Health will help you know what to do with all of this information
- You can ask the app any injury question and get a response from the best local healthcare providers
- 100% free to use
- Pass the word on to injured friends or teammates you have to make sure your squad is staying as healthy as possible.
The Results of Having an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
My head coach came to me after I had my first healthy season and he said: “if you stay healthy two years in a row you will have a breakout season.” I never forgot those words and the next year not only did I stay healthy, I never missed a practice or had to cut training short for any reason. I ended up being an NCAA All-American and making the 2012 Olympic team that season. Those results were the result of having a proper focus on staying healthy instead of one just being the best.
What If You Can’t Create Your Injury and Illness Prevention Program?
Sometimes you can ice all you want, but a muscle is in pain because another area is not working or because it is protecting you. With the hips, for example, your back may be hurting because your psoas is doing too much work and it is also tight. The psoas may be doing too much work because your other hip flexors are not activating correctly. The chain reaction could keep going.
Sometimes you need the help of a sports medicine provider. Sports medicine providers are used to working with athletes that need to get results quickly, to get back on the field. If you are not an athlete, I am sure that you still want quick results.
There are many different options you can go with when looking for a provider. You could get a chiropractor, massage therapist, physical therapist or many other options. The key is finding someone you trust and that you are excited to work with.
How to Find The Best Healthcare Providers for an Injury and Illness Prevention Program
Kho Health is the best place to find the health care providers you need for any injuries. It does not matter where you are hurting; a Kho Health provider will be able to get you healthy again. Kho allows you to find the best local providers and compare them quickly using the Kho Number.
If you have no idea what you need, but you know you need something, Kho Health is an injury guide, and you will get helped through the process. We make it easier for you to find the information and the person you are looking for when you need an injury and illness prevention program.
Skills to Look for in a Healthcare Provider for Injury and Illness Prevention:
- Active Release Technique
- Graston Technique
- Fascial Stretch Therapy
- Corrective exercises
- Dry Needling
- Sports Background
- Functional Movement Screen
- And more