‘Get back at ‘er: Man up’ – Is there a foolproof way to deal with sports injuries?

Bailey Stead's horse, Patriot, who has yet to injure her badly.

Loud flatulence, flying sand.


The only memories I’ve retained from my worst sports-related injury. After having a farting pony kick me in the face with full force – breaking the bridge of my nose, leaving me with two nasty racoon eyes, and short term amnesia – some would probably think twice about continuing to pursue horseback riding as a sport.

Not me.

As soon as I recovered from the concussion, I was literally back in the saddle.

I didn’t think twice about it. Certain sports have a way of engraving themselves on to your soul, so that abandoning them isn’t an option.

I truly wonder if there is anything that could turn me off riding entirely – I’ve been trampled, stepped on, kicked, bitten, and my mom’s best friend, Terri, was killed falling off her horse. But what we all know is had Terri survived that fall, she too would have been back in the saddle the next day.

Sports injuries happen, but when athletes really love a sport, there isn’t much that can stop them.

Wes Dillon says some athletes act as though they are invincible to injury.

“You’d have to be stupid to not know that you could get hurt taking part in any sport. It comes with the territory … you just have to accept it.”

Dillon, who previously worked at Mount Norquay in Banff as a ski instructor, fell after jumping off a 15 foot cliff in March.

He tore the meniscus ligament in his right knee during what he said was his most promising season; he was planning to compete this year.

He was devastated.

“I knew my season was over as soon as I landed. I thought ‘Ah shit, I’m gonna have to go through rehab’. ”

He’s still in rehab.

Unfortunately, he says it’s a difficult injury to fix because the meniscus is a deep ligament. In order to help strengthen it you need to build-up the muscles and ligaments around it too.

He is just getting to the point where he can walk somewhat normally, and he is only now starting to ride his bike again.

“It’s been really tough, I’ve been looking for some sort of release, but I always look to sports, maybe I should take up Yoga,” he said with a chuckle.

This is not Dillon’s first or worst sports-related injury, but he said his passion for skiing is just too strong. He refuses to give up.

Dillon moved to Banff in August to attend the University of British Columbia Okanagan, but admitted it was the skiing that ultimately drew him in.

Wes Dillon loves spending time out west on the slopes skiing.“Skiing is my outlet, something to get me through school … knowing I can go out on the hill and rip it up,” Dillon said. “Skiing is my life.”

Luckily, Dillon wasn’t working as an instructor at the time of his injury.

Rather, his focuses were on his studies. He said if the injury were to have happened while he was working as an instructor, he would have had to move home; he just wouldn’t have been able to make things work financially.

Ryan Shaw, a former varsity soccer and rugby player at the University of Toronto, shares similar thoughts to both Wes and myself.

“Sports are my life. Ask my housemates,” Shaw said. “I’m addicted to sports. I always have to be on a team, and pretty much all I watch or listen to on the radio is sports.”

When Shaw broke his ankle playing soccer in February his whole life changed for over a month.

“I couldn’t get into work because I broke my driving foot, and there was no way I could do the subway on crutches,” he said. “Everything about being injured sucks.”

He also said he gained over 10 pounds while out of commission. He couldn’t maintain his usual busy lifestyle, and said he actually slipped into a minor, but noticeable depression.

He had lots of work to get done, but just couldn’t seem to find the motivation.

“I was so lazy, and I just hated life while I was injured. I would sit around all day, maybe do some work from home on my lap top, but I honestly started to go stir-crazy … I drove my roommates crazy too…” Shaw said.

Shaw explained the hardest part of sustaining a sport related injury, is often actually getting your mind around the fact you need to take a break, especially from the sport that injured you in the first place.

But once you’ve given yourself ample time to mend, Shaw said there is only one thing to do.

“Get back at ‘er … you gotta man up.”

“Injuries and sports go hand in hand all athletes know that. You can’t think about your injury too much – otherwise you’ll just get discouraged,” Shaw said.

Shaw admitted he spent a lot of time dwelling on his injury, which may have led to his depression.

Dillon also said the most important thing you can do is try to put the injury out of your mind. Focus your attention on something else, like school perhaps.

“It’s funny, because I thought I may do better in school seeing as I couldn’t ski … I actually found my marks were worse,” Dillon said.

OK, so maybe injuries affect school work too.

The bottom line seems to be that sports injuries affect all aspects of an athlete’s life.

The story is no different for 21-year-old Olympic snowboarder, Brad Martin.
His life was also literally turned upside down in February after a nasty fall while he was attempting a massive 1260 – three-and-a-half rotations – at the Winter X-Games 12 in Athens.

Martin fell from 12 feet of air – smashing his butt on the edge of the tube, flipping upside down, then falling another 15 feet – landing on his head at the bottom of the pipe.

To exemplify his dedication to snowboarding, Martin attempted his second run – bloody and bruised – but unfortunately, failed to qualify for the finals. He did, however, receive huge support from the crowd for braving it out in the pipe.

Martin, who happens to be the quiet type, said simply he would like to never experience a fall like that again, and that this particular fall was by far his worst injury to date. If you want to see it, google: martin gets bucked.
It’s horrifying.

Surprisingly, he suffered only from minor cuts and bruises, mainly on his face, but spent several days peeing blood – landing on your butt from those heights will do that to you.

The next time he ventured out on the hill for a practice, he was nervous and scared.

It didn’t stop him.

To get over his injuries he focused mainly on doing a whole lot of nothing. He tried to sit as still as possible, saying the pain was quite intense.

But once Martin was given the go-ahead by medical professionals, he was back to snowboarding full throttle.

Less than a month after his fall, Martin picked up his first career World Cup victory in the men’s half pipe competition in Calgary. It’s almost certain that we can expect to see Martin in the upcoming 2010 Olympics.

A story like this just goes to show that athletes – should be mindful of their limits – but should also never forget the importance of positive thinking and true dedication to their sport, which will help aid them in recovering from related injuries.

Dillon, who happens to be a friend of Martin’s, said that not all athletes bounce back so easily from injuries.

“It’s tough, but it’s kinda like being a quarter-back. If you get sacked, you gotta put it out of your mind, and have a short memory. If you let yourself get discouraged about the injury you’ll never progress. Try to put it at the back of your mind”