The Psychology of Minor Injuries

If you’ve been following this blog (or Facebook) for any amount of time, you’re probably aware that I’m notorious for getting injured.

(SIDE NOTE: I haven’t ever pinpointed exactly why I get injured so frequently. I’m not a particularly dangerous player. I cross train and take care of myself. But I think it’s partially related to damage I did playing other sports when I was much younger. I also have some interesting anatomical anomalies from those times, which makes things worse.)

Well guess what! I’m injured again. Kind of.

On Monday night, this happened to me:

So now I’m facing a dilemma.

Tomorrow I have a bout.

And, the truth is, I’ll probably play in it. Even knowing that I’m injured. That the injury will cause compensations in other parts of my body. That I’m increasing my risk of not only making my current injury worse, but also causing an entirely new one.

Still. I’ll probably play.

Even though I know I shouldn’t. Even though I know it could extend the time I’m out for. Even though it’s just some random home game that means nothing. (All games are awesome and important, but you know what I mean. It’s not champs or anything.)

I’ll probably play.

And if you found yourself in the same situation, chances are good that you’d probably play too. Am I right?

When I’m dealing with an injury, my brain doesn’t have the mental bandwidth to determine WHY I feel and react the way I do. And when I’m not dealing with an injury, I skate along blissfully imagining that my body will work optimally forevermore.

So today, I’m taking the time to sit down and unpack the reasons why I (and so many others) have a hard time with injuries.

I’m going to speak specifically from where I’m at TODAY — which is a place where I am still functionally playable, but in some pain and with some limitations.

These minor injuries are the worst.

the worse

  • They don’t take you off your skates completely. Not that anyone would ever wish for that, but it certainly takes the decision of rest and recovery out of your hands.
  • They aren’t just hurts. Meaning it’s not a “twingy” ankle that only mildly bothers you, but doesn’t really affect your play in anyway. It’s a legitimate injury that impacts how you move and feel.
  • They force you to decide how you’ll proceed. Ugh. Decisions. Most skaters won’t decide to rest it — ahem, like me — and then feel guilty if the injury gets worse and turns from minor to major.

Why would I risk playing knowing what I know about my body?Knowing what I know about the mechanics of movement and injuries? Knowing what I know about how I’ll feel if I get seriously injured?

Because the alternative feels even worse.

1) “I’m letting my team down.”

Isn’t this a narcissistic and selfish thought?

But the reality of most team sports is that the team relies on each other. My team operates with relatively distinct defensive lines on the floor at any given time. The lines are designed to play to each skaters’ individual strengths. And also designed so that each skaters’ weaknesses are compensated for by the strengths of everyone else.

It’s true that my absence from the game would negatively impact my lines. Probably not as much as I like to imagine, but it certainly puts a strain on our bench coach to reorganize our line-ups. And it puts a strain on any other skaters that fill the same role I do in their wall because they have to step up and play more.

My team will adapt. Your team will adapt. But it’s nice to feel needed and that narrative keeps us from resting when we feel like we should.

2) “I’ll fall behind.” OR “I’ll lose my roster spot.” OR “I won’t be as good anymore.”

This is a real, legit fear that anyone suffering from an injury has. So…if I can still skate, I should. Because THEN I won’t lose my skills.

It’s true that if you stop skating, your skills will diminish somewhat. It’s also true that you’ve built in a fair amount of muscle memory that will allow you to regain those skills pretty quickly.

Last, it’s true that practicing skills when your mobility is limited due to an injury is a bad idea.

3) “Everyone will think I’m sandbagging.”

I’ve said this a million times. But I’ll repeat it because, quite frankly, I don’t listen to myself when I say it either.

At practice, no one is worried about you. They’re all worried about themselves.

Think back to the last time that you legitimately shook yourself out of your practice mindset to consider what another skater was doing. Chances are good that it’s not very often. (However, if the answer is “frequently” please read this.)

Whenever I’m worried that someone else on my team is thinking I’m faking it or sandbagging, they usually prove me wrong. Mostly by checking in with me.

It takes a certain level of trust to play a team sport. My teammates trust me to know what’s up with what I’m doing. And I trust them to know and do the same.

4) “No one will spend time with me anymore.”

Your roller derby team is a community that you’re a part of. And the tie that binds is skating. If you’re not skating, will you get cut loose?

In a word. Yes.

As much as your team will try to include you, they have other things to do: practices, league work, DIY uniforms, real life (What’s that?). And, if you aren’t skating, you won’t be doing those things anymore.

Here’s the thing though: it goes both ways. I guarantee you that, even if you decide not to skate, your league needs you. There’s a lot of work to be done and attending practices when you’re off-skates can be just as good of a learning opportunity.

5) “I want to.”

This is the meat of it. I’m injured. But want to keep skating.

I’m an adult. I make my own decisions. I forge my own path. I choose my own destiny. Even when it’s a stupid choice.

And in the end, I’ll accept the consequences.

Want more?

If you’re interested in more exclusive content, access to my FREE resource library, and the slightly weird workings of my inner mind, you can sign up for the Iron Octopus Fitness email list HERE. Wherein I harass you weekly with all things intelligent cross training, mindset, and…other.

Special shout-out to Cuban Miss Elle from the Chicago Red Hots for putting the thoughts for this article in my head!


About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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