This video addresses some awesome questions and even some stories from you guys! Thank you so much for your questions, the more you ask, the more you learn about the tools you can develop to help you as an athlete. I am so passionate about sharing with young athletes, and I have often heard stories of athletes quitting sport due to injuries.
This was definitely not an easy video to record. As I am getting more proficient in learning how I should speak in front of the camera, I am also learning how to transfer knowledge I have into something that is clear for you. I beg of you, be patient with me :) Sports has been my life for so long, but most of the time I have been the one asking the professionals the questions. Now, the tables are turned and I am learned how to adapt in a new role.
I have been sharing my personal journey and experiences on injuries through out my career as a professional athlete on the National Team for Wrestling. Immediately upon graduating from college, I started my journey and adventure with a move out to the Olympic Training Center. I had come out already with an injury, a complete tear in my UCL, my very first severe injury I had ever had in my career. I was lucky to have the support and direction of the best medical staff team in the world. Even still, I realized that the rehab process doesn't do the magic it does with out my feedback and collaboration. Once I was able to rehab back to sport specific exercises, if I wasn't digging for problem areas they wouldn't get found. I had to creatively reproduce wrestling movements before I was ready to complete a entire move, and discover the areas that are uncomfortable. From there, I would work with my physical therapist to create a rehab routine that addressed the new areas I found. It was uncomfortable, very very uncomfortable. I continued to get strong and great at an area, and then I would re-assess and find more areas that didn't feel right yet. And the rehab didn't stop once I was back to sport and getting ready to compete. I would continue with movement preparation, which lead into higher-intensity movements or endurance movements. Coming back to sport wasn't good enough for me, I had to retrain my fast-twitch and endurance fibers.
A lot of questions were pertaining to the idea of, "will I ever be the same?" You have to use that as a push of motivation. No, you may not be the same. And guess what? Once you are "fully back to sport," that in no way means that you are the same as before. You will have to continue to train that injured area so that it can be the BEST it can be. Not so it can be like it was before. You have to honestly give it the patience it deserves, because your body is trying to do what you're telling it to do. Ask questions, learn the rehab, do the rehab, re-assess, ask more, repeat.
Since that first surgery I had when I first moved out to the Olympic Training Center in 2010, I have had to repeat this process for (now) 2 more surgeries. A foot surgery in 2015, and my current shoulder surgery. Not to mention the countless little injuries in between. (SIGH) Life of an athlete. Did fear creep in? Yes. Did you feel discouraged? Yes, yes, and yes. But these are the moments where we decide to set ourselves apart from the rest. I couldn't let an injury tell me my future. I refused to let injuries be my fate. And since then have learned so much from the professionals around me about how I can train my body to combat future injuries, as well as how I can support and teach others to do the same.
Our path is our own path. I can't compare my journey to anyone else who wrestles in the U.S, or in the world. I have to travel down the road that makes sense for me, at every stage. My journey has been more surgeries than other athletes, and there are plenty of athletes who have had way more surgeries than I'll ever have. I know that I wasted a lot of energy worried about what others thought about how I was training, or more like how I wasn't training. There were times I wished I had stood up for myself and the things I needed, instead of pushing little injuries because I was worried I would look weak. Finally, I realized that no one owned my career except for myself. I had the power to create my own reality, and my own situation.