By Mara Abbott,
2016 Olympian, CTS Athlete, and CTS Contributing Editor

At the 2016 Redlands Classic I went down hard, and came back up with a cracked collarbone. After 10 years of professional cycling it was my first broken bone. However, when I tried explaining my ensuing fear and uncertainty, people were duly polite, but it was tough for anyone to see my hairline-fracture-no-surgery-needed with much sympathy. A more serious injury would come soon enough. Just a few months later, I retired from professional cycling and attempted to immediately turn myself into a competitive runner. With quads built from steel, lungs forged of iron, and stabilizing tissues apparently made with Tinker Toys, I have since learned a thing or two about the process of hurting myself – and recovering.

With any injury, the first question arises:

What happened?
Sometimes overuse, sometimes trauma. Sometimes the problem is sports-related, but not always; one college roommate tore her ACL when she slipped at a fraternity house. Examining the causes of your injury can be highly uncomfortable, but unless you are willing to dive into what went wrong, you will face much higher odds of repeat occurrences. (Roommate: “It was so stupid! I’ve fallen there before!”).

Go to see a good doctor. Giving that advice is a big deal for me, as I find spending money unnecessarily to be the one thing worse than admitting physical vulnerability. I know you are smart and Google is powerful, but weigh the price of consulting a professional who has seen your specific injury in person against the opportunity cost of time spent immersed in the doom foretold by internet message boards. The costs of that office visit and x-rays start to look pretty good.

The sooner you get a diagnosis, the sooner you can stop hurting and start healing. In the (unlikely) event they tell you to just walk it off, that you’re fine, you are at least spared a few weeks of low-grade anxiety. Anxiety builds up, and let me tell you – a few hours with a therapist will set your wallet back a lot more than a visit to the orthopedist.

More… The Stubborn Athlete’s Guide to Injuries – CTS