Listen to Your Body
Every athlete will inevitably cope with an injury at some point in their career, and I have been dealing with one this past summer, so I thought I'd share some thoughts on dealing with injuries. I had an abdominal injury this summer that was spurred on by a running race I did in June. It took almost all summer to fully heal.
It seems that injuries are a part of elite sports, and although cross-country skiing is a relatively low-injury sport compared to others, it is still a sport that requires repetitive movements and uses the entire body.
I have learned a lot over the years about dealing with injuries, and the most important thing I've learned is to listen to your body. As athletes, we are wired to keep pushing ourselves, but when injuries arise, you must respect the signs your body is sending you and give yourself the time and rest required to heal. Often, injuries start out as small nagging pains that we tend to ignore, and they gradually become worse and can develop into serious injuries.
To truly heal, you have to take a step back and look at the big picture. For example, missing a week of training now to rest up and recover may save you missing a month of training later on down the road had you not taken the rest required. I took my fair share of time off this summer in order to let the injury heal, and not aggravate it. The same can be said in a larger time frame. Some injuries require you to perhaps miss an entire season, but in the big picture, especially for young athletes, this is only one season in an otherwise long and healthy ski career.
Modifying my training was a big part of my plan this summer. I had to make many adaptations to my training plan in order to accommodate my injury. I was unable to use my abdominals for a long time, so this meant no double-poling. Instead, I discovered I could spend a lot of time striding uphill, both on rollerskis and on foot (ski walking). So, for the majority of the summer, I did uphill striding, and I would say I'm feeling stronger than ever in my Classic stride! It's about continually finding the positives in any situation. Another modification to my training was doing no high-end intensity or speed work. But looking at the positive side, this meant more volume training and Zone Three work to build up a more substantial base of fitness.
Another thing I learned when dealing with my injury is just how lucky I am to have such a great support team. I had so many people helping me return to health, including massage therapists, a physiotherapist, an osteopath, as well as my friends, family, teammates and coaches. They encouraged me to keep looking at the big picture, see the positives and help me to fully recover, for which I am very grateful.
I don't wish injuries upon anyone, but should they occur, I hope you listen to your body, find the positives, see the big picture and heal up quickly!
Wishing you good health!
After having to modify off-season training due to injury, Emily Nishikawa was back in competition at Lillehammer.