Okay, You’re Injured. Now What?
Let’s stop sugarcoating this and say it like it is: injuries suck.
Whether you’re suffering from a minor sprain or a torn ACL, recovery time can seem to drag on. It’s frustrating, to say the least, when your body can’t work the way you need it to, and for hikers especially, it can be maddening to temporarily be forced away from winding trails and mountain air.
It’s easy to wallow away into despair and dwell on the current limitations of your body, but recovery time can be used as a tool to actually set yourself up for success on your “post injury” adventures. Instead of binge watching every documentary about hiking and the outdoors you can find on Netflix, staying as active and busy as possible, while still allowing your body time to heal, is the best way to make your recovery time fly by.
So, for all you injured hikers and adventurers out there, take a week to allow yourself to be upset, get your R.I.C.E. on, and then get busy setting your “post injury” self up for success:
Perfect Your Gear List
Even the most dedicated gear junkie can sometimes find it hard to chalk out the time to go through the ritual of weighing all their gear on a kitchen scale, logging the numbers on a spread sheet, and then researching ways to lighten the load. If you’re finding it hard to sit still for a few weeks while letting your body heal, take an afternoon to really nail down your gear setup. This is also a great time to dig through the internet looking for a really good deal on that new pack or sleeping bag you’ve been eyeing up.
Learn A New Outdoor Skill
Taking a class at your local REI, community center, or hiking club is a great way to stay involved in the outdoor community, and get you thinking about your next “post-injury” adventure! Have you been trying to get better at capturing those beautiful sunsets you see while out on the trail? Take an outdoor photography class! Trying to keep backpacking in your life year-round? Look for informative classes on winter camping and hiking basics. There are tons of outdoor classes that are offered in a classroom setting so that you can enhance your skill set while still taking it easy.
Plan Your Next Trip
You know that 14 day backpacking trip through the Canadian Rockies, or the thru hike of the Appalachian Trail that you can’t seem to shake from your mind? Now is the time to start planning. Take advantage of your mandatory R&R to do a ton of research, read a few books, and nail out all the details of your next big trip. Not only will this keep your mind off the injury and current lack of hiking in your life, but you will now have something to look forward to once your injury has fully healed!
Explore A New Hobby
So, you may be sidelined from participating in your favorite activities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still get in your fix of adventure. If you injured your upper body, try biking. Injured your lower body? Try kayaking at your local lake. Although activities that use your whole body, such as backpacking or climbing, may have to be put on hold, there are tons of ways to still get outside and get your body moving.
Take Some Time To Breathe
Many people in the hiking and outdoor communities like to live a relatively active lifestyle. This often translates into a constant state of running straight from work, to the woods / rock gym / ski slope, and then waking up to do it all over again. Use your injury as a chance to take a break and let your body soak up some well deserved rest. You may not come back quite as strong as you were before the injury, but your body will feel rested, refreshed, and (most importantly) fully healed for you to hopefully continue skipping down the trail for years to come.
Above everything else, listen to your doctor’s advice and try to learn the art of patience. Recovery time may seem to drag on, but jumping back onto the trail too soon can cause more issues down the road than it’s worth. The more time you give your body to heal, the less likely your injury will become a permanent issue on future adventures.
What do you do to stay active and busy while recovering from an injury? Let me know what else I should do while I let my stress fracture heal in the comments below!
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