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Feature - Beyond the comfort zone

Getting back to game after injury



When you’re in the comfort zone, life is easy. The boat isn’t rocking, you’re not pushing your limits, everything flows.

Somewhere out beyond the comfort zone is a little room. A room you don’t want to be in. This room is peopled with men in white coats, women wielding ultrasounds, supersized bottles of Ibuprofen, Crayola-coloured physio balls. Oprah Winfrey is there, along with your mother’s chicken soup, the remote control, a pile of unintelligible WCB paperwork. This room is one of your possible destinations when you push yourself past the comfort zone – the possible future that comes into existence when you mess up and get hurt. An injury is your passport to this place – it’s Recovery and Rehabilitation Central.

Dr. Hugh Fisher, Pemberton-based physician, and an athlete and coach in his own right, explains why the Sea to Sky corridor might be ground zero for sports-related injuries.

"It’s the direct goal of many sports to push you outside the comfort zone because that’s where the thrill is. And that’s where people get injured."

Recognize the profile? Check your garage/storage locker/entryway. Are you tripping over skis/boards, bikes, clubs, to get into your house? Do you have a diluted S&M-style crush on your physiotherapist? Do you buy bottles of Ibuprofen in the super-sized version?

One in five of my work colleagues is currently undergoing treatment for injury. They randomly encounter each other on the tables at the physiotherapist, for a brutal session of back-cracking, rib-popping, and shoulder-rotating, before limping off to work. Granted, the season takes its toll on your body, but they definitely fit the profile of frequent venturers beyond the comfort zone.

So too does local athlete and ski guide, Lee Anne Patterson. Patterson has suffered her share of injuries in a ski career that has seen her making first ski descents of numerous peaks around the world and ascending the ranks of the international freeskiing circuit – concussions, several torn knee ligaments, a broken nose, a busted shoulder. Getting injured is par for the course when you’re shooting to be the best in the game. Staying in that game for an extended period of time means dealing with your injuries intelligently.

"I have a very strong opinion about rehabilitation," says Patterson when I corner her for the inside scoop on recovering from injury and getting back to game. "I think the most important thing in getting better is sleep, because your body does the most healing and repairing when you sleep. I’ve always been able to recover from my injuries super fast and strong, but in the first phase, those first couple of weeks, I’ve spent on average 16 hours a day sleeping."