The Keys to Quicker Injury Recovery

The Keys to Quicker Injury Recovery

- Rachel Sovka

If you’re looking for a list of injuries, Erin Smith, 2016 AUS 1st team volleyball all-star, has sustained a few during her career on the court:

  • Sprained ankle (left, 6 times)
  • Dislocated shoulders (both, twice)
  • Bruised retina (blocking accident)
  • Split chin (diving accident)
  • Sprained thumb (left, every season)
  • Strained bicep tendon (right arm)
  • Concussion (high school)
  • Lots and lots of knots
  • Lots and lots of bruises

At this point, her head coach has threatened to get her one of those human-sized hamster balls to keep her safe, or some form of bubble wrap suit of armour.

Many athletes say the worst part of being injured is missing out on games. But so far, Erin has been lucky with her myriad of mishaps; only missing out on a few crucial games.

Depending on the injury, recovery can be anywhere from weeks to months. According to Erin, the best ways to hasten healthy recovery is lots of rehab, ice, stretching, being gentle with yourself, and listening to your body.

“Learning to listen to my body has been key,” Erin explains, “when you’re injured, trying to go the gym and push through it only puts you further behind.”

Not pushing it too early is easy to say, but there’s a fine line between getting back on your feet and doing more harm than good. Particularly, when you’re eager to move forward. However, patience - being a challenge for most, is what Erin claims to make rehab most effective.

“I’m more conscious of icing and stretching after practice to try and prevent any more injuries than necessary,” she says, “we also have access to our athletic therapists if there’s anything that needs to be examined, massaged, or maintained.”

While the additional effort required to care for an injury can be a hassle, the highs and lows of the injury/rehab experience often causes athletes to rethink their sport and place in it.

“Spraining my ankle the night before playing in my hometown during my first year felt devastating at the time. I felt like I let everyone down by being clumsy,” Erin says, “But the highs come when you’re finally healed and can play through an entire game without worrying about your injury or being limited by it.”

In this effort some volleyball players wear ankle braces to prevent ankle sprains. It seems to work for most people on her team, Erin herself is just an exception.

With her list of injuries, maybe bubble wrap or a hamster ball wouldn’t be such a bad idea after all!