Zyaga from Martial Thoughts posted a thought provoking article entitled Tuesday Tip: Fear of Injury. His article struck a chord with me because of my experience with ACL surgery and recovery. After I was diagnosed with a completely torn ACL, I was given two options…surgery or no surgery. I was told that people live happy, healthy lives without an intact ACL. However, there was one very big problem. The surgeon said four words that filled the room “No ACL….no karate”. My decision to have the surgery was immediate. There was no thought involved because I knew that I needed a healthy, stable knee in order to continue training. There have been people who suggested that I stop training due to my injury.
My ACL tear occurred while working on a two-man bo form. I jumped…my foot planted…my body shifted into position…my knee gave out…I crumbled to the floor… I stood up and finished the bo form. I knew something was wrong as soon as I felt my leg slide out of position. Just writing about that feeling gives me a lump in the pit of my stomach. This was a non-contact injury. My body…my movement…caused this injury.
How did I find my way through the fear of re-injury?
The truth is I did not. It is still with me each time I step on the dojo floor, every racquetball game and each bout of sparring. I try to manage the fear by being proactive. I joined a gym so I could lift weights in order to keep my knee strong. I started Tai Chi in the hopes I will move more fluidly. I play racquetball to see how far I can push my knee.
There was a recent week that I did nothing…no karate, no Tai Chi, no racquetball and no gym. I can tell you with certainty that my knee ached during that week. I kept wondering what I did until I realized it was a direct result of what I was not doing. I know that keeping my knee healthy and strong is a daily pursuit.
I am going to keep moving forward but there is a delicate balance. If I let the fear of injury go completely, I may become reckless in my training. I need just enough fear to keep me cautious and aware.
How do you handle the fear of injury?