Overcoming Pain And Injury For This Olympic Racer Means Staying Positive
Pain Management Racing down steep, icy mountainsides at speeds of more than 100 km/h, Canadian skier, Jan Hudec knows a thing or two about pain — the mental pain of not winning and the physical pain of his body taking a beating on the slopes.
Jan Hudec is one of Canada’s most celebrated skiers becoming the first Canadian to win an Olympic alpine medal in 20 years when he won bronze at the 2014 Winter Olympics. If racing down the world’s largest mountains isn’t hard enough, Hudec has had to endure numerous injuries.
“Living an active lifestyle, I had plenty of injuries growing up,” he says, “When I was 20 years old I herniated a disc in my back while racing, and it was the first time that I really had a debilitating injury. It was difficult to do anything.”
“You need to explore all your options. There are lots of natural things we can do to stay healthy, recover from injuries, and manage pain.”
Mental state is just as important as the physical
Like winning races, Hudec knows clearly the time of his serious injuries. In 2003 he tore the ACL in his knee for the first time. A sort of initiation into ski racing, as he puts it. “Every time you hurt yourself, it’s difficult to trust your body. There’s the physical side, but just as important is the mental side,” he says.
Hudec says it doesn’t matter if you are an elite athlete or not, everyone struggles with an injury, and he believes a spirit of positivity can go a long way in dealing with the pain and recovery. “A lot of how you approach rehabilitation and doing your daily activities is mental, because you have no confidence and your body tells your mind it can’t do something because it hurts,” he says. “But there are times you need to trick yourself, and try to direct your mind to get up and go to physiotherapy or remain as active as you can.”
In dealing with his own injuries, Hudec tries to first use natural foods and remedies, including osteopathy, before racing for prescription medication. “They play a role indeed, but you don’t want to be dependent on painkillers,” he says. “You need to explore all your options. There are lots of natural things we can do to stay healthy, recover from injuries, and manage pain.” He adds that even simple things, such as eating and sleeping properly, and regular exercise can play a huge role in preventing injury, and allowing the body to repair itself when we injure ourselves.