I did my ACL, I bet you’re jealous. This phrase came to me last week when I was thinking over all the good things that have come from my injury. As I was in the gym (my home away from home) I thought back to all the things I have learnt about my body and my mind; and it doesn’t stop there.
I’ve learnt so many new exercises to enhance my balance, strength, power, coordination. My awareness of my body has improved. I’m sure that when I put my skis back on I will be very conscious of my new knee but eventually I will probably forget that it is any different to my other knee. However, the awareness of what my legs are doing all the time will stay with me, even though it may be subconscious. Given that I ski (most of the time) on two legs, it could make a big difference. Through spending so much time with physios they have of course discovered plenty of other parts of my body that can be improved. Primarily the alignment of my hips that I can now work on with stretching and strengthening exercises. It may not make a difference but in a sport where every hundredth counts, why not try?
As I move onto the final stages of my rehab I have learnt the importance of eccentric strength in skiing. For example, when you come into a skiing turn you “sink” into the turn by bending your legs and this is a controlled descent that is vital to ensure you can then power back up out of the turn. When I crashed and tore my ACL I was pushed down into the turn and then catapulted out after the gate. Maybe if my eccentric strength was improved I could have had more control coming out of the turn.
Mentally what have I learnt about myself? Firstly, that perseverance does pay off. I take great pride in knowing that my knee wouldn’t be looking as good as it does today if it wasn’t for all the hard work I put in. Secondly, you really do have to hit rock bottom to see how far you can push yourself, it’s hard to beat someone that never gives up.
So, despite adding a little bit more determination to my personality I’ve also had to improve my patience skills (which were basically non existant to begin with…!). The three things that annoy me most are: being told I can’t do something, being told to slow down and not knowing what my next step is; give me an injury and you get all of those! I’ve had to adjust and learn new coping methods that I think have helped me grow into a better person.
But I think that biggest thing that I’ve learnt is appreciation. It’s small things like jumping, kneeling or being able to shower without a plastic bag on, to the bigger things like being in the mountains and of course skiing. Do sports get any more awesome than skiing?! “What do you do? I get to spend every day in the most incredible places skiing, enjoying myself and occasionally winning some medals”. Ok so it may not be everyone’s cup of tea when you add that you also spend over 10 hours a week in a gym, injury is a risk and it’s always cold... it still sounds pretty perfect to me. You really do have to lose something to realise how much you miss it. Every day I get to spend on my skis counts.
All I’m saying is that if I was you I’d be pretty jealous I hadn’t done my ACL.