Extra Time

Arran Graffin – How to properly recuperate from injury

Cushendall hurler Arran Graffin suffered a terrrible injury last year but was able to recover to play in the All-Ireland club series. Here he gives some advice for those who find themselves injured.

By Arran Graffin

INJURIES can get you down. Injuries can be hard to deal with. I received a card after my knee surgery that read:
“Life can be a bit shit, hang in there.”

That’s such a true statement in many respects.

Serious injuries that include operations and long periods of rigorous rehab can cause self-doubt, pain, anxiety, anger, frustration and in some cases lead to depression.

As a sports person you want to be injury free and out playing and competing as much as possible, but injuries are just part and parcel of the game. That’s life.

When returning from any injury it is important to have the correct support network around you. Friends and family are vital. Regular contact with teammates, work colleagues, team managements and medical personnel (such as consultants, nurses and physios) are all required.

These people are here to help you and are more than happy to assist you in getting better. Sometimes you may feel alone but that is far from true.

Mentally, you have to be very strong, have self-belief, stay positive and be aware of the processes involved during your rehab.

You need to understand that, depending on your injury, it will take a certain amount to time to fully recover e.g. four to six weeks or six to nine months.

People will ask you “how long will you be out for?” or “when will you be back fit” but realistically it is hard to put an exact time-frame on your recovery.

This totally depends on the individual person and how seriously you take your rehab. One important thing is not to rush things. Small steps are essential.

At times you may feel good but don’t overdo it or push things. Slow and steady is key. Listening to advice from physios is vital. They are trained medical professionals who know best.

You may have setbacks and disappointments along the road to recovery but also focus on the end result, trust yourself and never give up. Keep working hard on the small things.

I personally find visualisation very useful – imagining yourself back on the field of play, fully fit and back doing what you love most always helps.

Short-term goal-setting is another useful exercise. It is about trying to make small improvements and gains, bit by bit, to reach certain targets.

It could be as simple as performance an easy exercise post-injury e.g. walking unassisted with no crutches after knee surgery or successfully performing a pain-free box jump after an ankle problem.

These are small achievements and personal wins that show you that you’re on the right track physically. However, they have a much more beneficial impact on your mental state.

Reaching each goal successfully gives confidence and belief to your inner self that your body is recovering and that your rehab is going in the right direction.

In reality, injuries happen. However, stay positive and come back stronger than before. A good saying is that “your body achieves what your mind believes.”

Summary:
1. Stay mentally strong
2. Trust the processes involved
3. Listen to medical advice
4. Use your support network
5. Work hard and do not give up