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Stop Calling Yourself "Injured"

I distinctly remember my early days as a high school runner - my, let’s call it, “overzealous” nature often landed me on the sidelines with some sort of pain or issue. I would spend hours on the forums at Runnersworld.com, reading through the injury experiences of others. There were specific sub forums for different injuries, where runners would commiserate over what plagued them. I never left these forums with a good feeling or reassurance, but it was like watching a car wreck - painful, yet I couldn’t look away. In fact, I often felt like I would never run again. There were stories like “One day I felt a twinge in my calf, and I never ran again. It has been 6 years.”


Fast forward to today, where I find people in my running community referring to themselves as “injured” or worse, an “injured POS” (I’ll let you spell that one out for yourself). I see language in articles that are targeted toward “injured runners”, almost like it is its own subculture. 


Which is why, in this hot take of mine, I am going to ask you to stop calling yourself an “injured runner”. 


Calling ourselves injured turns that temporary state of being unable to participate in our sport into an identity. Mindset and mood plays a huge role in recovery from an injury and on our pain states. Maintaining separation between ourselves and our experiences can help us stay in neutrality instead of a downward spiral. The focus becomes on the here and now, and what we can do to move forward. Calling ourselves injured is a resignation state, not an empowered state. 


We know that language is important, especially when we are talking about ourselves and others. In the medical profession we practice “patient first language”, which avoids labeling people based on their diagnosis. An example would be saying “A patient with IT band syndrome” vs. “IT band syndrome patient”. This acknowledges that the person is much more than their IT band. You may laugh, but if you’ve ever dealt with an injury or struggled with athletic identity, you know how the minutiae matters in times of struggle. 


The big takeaway here is to avoid the forums like the plague and speak kindly to yourself. Seek and surround yourself with positivity. 


Keep going, you got this! 

Kacy Seynders, PT, DPT


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