Strengthening the Forces: Try re-inventing yourself

STF

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By Dr. Darrell Menard OMM MD, Dip Sport Med

Some of the most compelling sports stories are of athletes who could no longer do their sport of choice because of injury. They are faced with 3 choices: continuing to hurt themselves in their current sport, quitting all together, or re-inventing themselves. Those who choose to re-invent themselves can go on to become champions in another sporting discipline.

This doesn’t just happen to elite athletes. Every week, I meet someone who is faced with the same choices because of injury or illness. A good example of this would be an ageing infantry soldier who wants to continue in this trade, but finds the osteoarthritis in his right knee bothers him a great deal if he does longer unit runs. If he limits his runs to 5k, cross-trains more and runs on softer surfaces, he experiences fewer symptoms. His biggest concern is that he is in a leadership role, and to lead by example, he feels that he needs to participate in every unit run regardless of the distance.

No matter how talented you are, every active person at some point is faced with the need to change what they are doing. The trick here is not to give up, but rather to re-invent yourself. Find something else to physically challenge yourself. If running long distances bothers you, try running shorter distances. If running is no longer good for you, try cycling. If your shoulders hurt when you swim, try power walking. Thanks to advances in technology, you have an incredible variety of fitness and sporting opportunities to choose from.

It is extremely important that we stay active, and in order to achieve this goal, we are likely going to have to re-invent ourselves many times. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself enjoying your new fitness activities as much as, or even more than the ones you had to leave behind. Exercise is medicine!

Re-inventing yourself isn’t quitting – it’s smart!

Dr. Menard is the Surgeon General’s specialist advisor in sports medicine and has worked extensively with athletes from multiple sports. As part of the Strengthening the Forces team, he works on injury prevention and promoting active living.

Strengthening the Forces is the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) healthy lifestyles promotion program providing expert information, skills and tools for promoting and improving CAF members’ health and well-being.

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