Below is the first of a multi-part series describing what it is like to recover from an injury when you are a professional mixed martial artist.
Last year I completely dislocated my knee training for a fight. I was told it would take 12-18 months to recover. I have been an athlete my whole life from a ballerina, to a track runner, bodybuilder, jiu Jitsu competitor, personal trainer and coach. And now a pro WMMA fighter. My resting heart rate 1 week before the fight was 40 and I was 38 years old without ever suffering any injury like this before. I had never even broken a bone before. Worst thing I ever suffered was a tear in my calf during training for my 3rd pro fight which I not only changed to southpaw to accommodate my training, but I completely recovered from in 4 weeks…and went on to fight in the first Invicta card! So you can’t imagine what I was up against after this most recent injury.
Let me give you some tips to get through the toughest part. The first couple days, weeks or months of a serious injury. Without a solid plan and without creating some normalcy you may create a tougher situation.First get through the toughest part the first 24-48 hours.
You’re home from the hospital and coming down from anesthesia Some great things to have on hand. Glutinos crackers and ginger ale for nausea, prunes and calcium magnesium for constipation (from the narcotic medication). Nothing adds to a crappy situation like not being able to……..well crap. And sleep a lot for 24 hours if you can.
Once you’ve gotten through the first 24-48 hours I highly recommend getting yourself cleaned up and dressed every morning. I remember waking up on day two going “what now?”. Actually my mindset was more like “ok let’s do this”. Remember, I spent 60-70 hours a week on my feet and in the gym. So I got dressed every day in something different, I didn’t stay in my PJ’s. I wasn’t allowed to put any pressure on my leg for 6 weeks. I gave myself a sponge bath everyday for 6 weeks and washed my hair in the kitchen sink while standing on one foot.
So I suggest wake up and get in there! Brush, floss, do your hair, shave or whatever your morning regimen is. Put on something decent and get out of bed. This will make you feel like a normal human being and helps reduce the risk of becoming depressed. Plus that little amount of movement helps get rid of stiffness from sleeping in a fixed position. So get up as often as you can even if its for 2-3 minutes.
On that note get yourself into some type of at home exercise regimen. I did mat Pilates and stretched. This saved my back and lifted my spirits and kept my core strong enough while injured. Even when it got boring I forced myself to do these things as it always made me feel better.