Imagine you've tripped and you've fallen. In amidst the tumble, you roll awkwardly and boom, you've broken your leg. You head to the hospital, they work their magic, and you leave with a cast and a set of crutches.
"Don't walk on your leg for the next 4 weeks—use these crutches for now. We'll take the cast off once your leg's healed. If you put pressure on your leg before then, you're going to make the problem worse."
Simple, clear advice that's a no brainer to follow, right?
You use the crutches for 4 weeks, have the cast taken off, and then (after a little rehab) go back to living a normal life. In this scenario, crutches are your friend. They allow you to get by while your body is diligently tackling the source of the problemy. Once your leg is healed, you remove the crutches and move on.
We shouldn't be scared to use crutches once we've identified the problem, and we've identified a fix. Crutches are tools that serve us. We shouldn't feel shame in leaning on a supporting structure that serves, especially if we're able to diagnose and fix the problem at hand.
When you're riding a bike with stabilisers, you're learning how to balance on the bike and get used to the motion of peddling. Once you've learnt that, you take the stabilisers off and you'll learn how to use the bike.
There's nothing wrong with using crutches, as long as you're willing to identify the reason why they're necessary. If you're tired every day, then having another cup of coffee is fine, as long as you're working to understand why you're tired. It's only when you relying on the crutch forever that problems start to occur.
Imagine never taking the cast off your leg, and instead, using the crutches forever.
What a mess that'd be. You might become a pro at using the crutches, but the results will never compare to being able to use both your legs again. Of course, if you never get the use of your legs back, that's a different story, but let's not make this more dramatic than it needs to be.
Sometimes, growth and recovery need supporting structures. I'm all for grit and overcoming adversity, but there are times when that mindset is ridiculous.
If you're looking for a quick fix, don't use a crutch. The quick fix mindset is where things start to go wrong. It's this mindset that harbours addiction. It's the mindset that says I have knee pain, but instead of seeing an expert, I'm going to take pain killers. Sometimes you'll be unaware of the reasons behind the pain, but in to use crutches, you have to have to want to find the cause and find the solution.
Don't avoid using crutches for the sake of pride. I'm all for pride, and I'm all for grit. But like anything in life, if you overdo either of these extremes, then you're going to end up in trouble.
Imagine being a boxer, breaking your knuckles and then refusing to wrap them up. Stupid, right? You get one set of hands and you need them to accomplish your goals. But, instead of using the crutch to your advantage, you decide to 'push through'. That type of determination doesn't serve you. You serve it.
Despite all the hyper-masculine messages on the internet, know that there are times and places for crutches. Let them serve you, do not serve them.
A Lesson for Future Champions
Crutches are tools, they serve you, you don't serve them.
If something has happened, then feel free to use crutches to recover. Grit and pride are useful, but don't avoid support to 'prove how much of a man you are'.
Crutches are not quick fixes. If you've been using one, you shouldn't be using it forever. If you're ever in doubt, ask yourself, who does this crutch serve?
If there's nothing wrong with you, then avoid crutches entirely. You wouldn't use stabilisers if you know how to ride a bike because you're feeling 'rusty'. The same principle applies here.