An injury is always unpleasant as it limits your activities. But an injury for an athlete can mean a loss of sense of identity. We asked Jason Chiew, an ultimate athlete who recently injured his shoulder on how he fared on his recovery journey.
Athletes always have it painful when they get injured. A skin wound is normal, but can get frustrating enough if it's at the joints, making mobilisation of the limbs a painful task. But the worst comes when the injury is internal. A partial tear to the ligament or tendon is all it takes to demoralize an athlete.
We recently encountered this with Jason Chiew, one of our beloved Carebears Ultimate members who has diligently grown in strength, endurance and technique with us ever since Benchmark Theory launched. Three months ago, in the Grizzly's Open Championships 2019 ultimate tournament, Jason injured his right shoulder and put him in a position of frustration, sadness and worry as he is expected to compete in the Asia Oceanic Ultimate & Guts Championships 2019 (AOUGC2019) on the last week of July. We caught up with him on how he dealt with the physical and mental barriers during his recovery journey.
1. How did you get your shoulder injury and what was the diagnosis?
It was the first day of the tournament and I was running at my maximum speed to make a bid for the disc to score the point. I caught the disc but landed awkwardly on my right shoulder and there was a slight popping sound that accompanied it. I didn't get a MRI scan, but was told a ligament was torn—most probably a rotator cuff injury.
2. How much do you think we depend on our arms after experiencing a shoulder injury?
Needless to say, in a throwing-dominant sport like ultimate we depend on our arms a lot. But after getting injured, I realize we also often take for granted, the role of our arms in our daily activities—especially if the dominant side is injured. Getting in and out of bed and driving to work was challenging during the first fortnight. I could not do anything that required pushing or pulling. Generally, you will only realize how important every component of the body is when you get injured.
3. Was there a lot of frustration during the healing process and what helped?
Oh of course, frustration was at an all-time high. As an athlete, I think we experience the most frustration when we get injured. We associate our sense of identity with the sport which is due to the long-term investment and commitment of time, energy and toughness over the years. This sense of identity further expands when we play a role in the team. So, when you get injured and you are out for a couple of months, you tend to feel that sense of identity slip away.
When that happens, you try to hold on to that sense of identity and attempt to speed-up the healing process. But there is nothing much to be done except lots of rest and rehabilitation. Much of the frustration comes from trying to be disciplined because all I wanted to do was to join my team back on the field.
But I knew rehabilitation was extremely important. BMT and Coach Prince helped incorporate strength training exercises to restore my shoulder function back to normal, while Ben's Physio helped with healing the shoulder itself. Without them, I don't think I could have healed as quickly.
4. How do you feel now?
My biggest worry was recovering in time for AOUGC2019, so I set my goals a little high. I have fallen slightly short of them as I grew a bit impatient and sustained minor injuries. But Coach Prince and I have worked very hard together, that I even managed to join my team for a training camp in Singapore, recently. I am glad to say that despite my minor setbacks, I have recovered to a point where I can join my team in competing on an international stage. Now, I just have to be very careful until the competition in two weeks!
Have an injury that needs constant rehabilitation? Reach out to us to expedite your recovery at [email protected].