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37 | Former WNBA Player and Ph.D. Candidate ShaRae Mansfield: Coping with Chronic Pain

The Injured Athletes Club

Release Date: 03/11/2021

78 | Carrie Answers a Question: A Collective Confidence Boost show art 78 | Carrie Answers a Question: A Collective Confidence Boost

The Injured Athletes Club

“I’m continuing to struggle months after my stress fracture is ‘healed’ with new pain areas and fearing it is a recurrence of the original injury. How do I mentally get over that hurdle?” —Liisa   “I’m currently in transition from return to function towards return to play and every little flare gives me the jitters, if you happen to have any input on navigating. 🙏” —Sarah   “I think fear of reinjury is big too. Like, I don’t even know if I want to try getting back to running and surfing—or if that’s just fear—so help on thinking through those tough...

77 | Quarterback Vad Lee: Purpose Over Position show art 77 | Quarterback Vad Lee: Purpose Over Position

The Injured Athletes Club

“That experience helped me to realize to cherish every relationship, to cherish your responsibilities, to cherish your opportunity when you have it, because it's not guaranteed tomorrow. You can be the hardest-working player, you can do things right,  you can be a great person and all of those things—that does not guarantee that you will finish the way that you wrote your story or the way that you want it, desire it to finish.”   fell in love with football at a young age. He thought he knew how his life would pan out—winning the national championship, getting drafted into...

76 | Carrie Answers a Question: Gavin’s Glitch show art 76 | Carrie Answers a Question: Gavin’s Glitch

The Injured Athletes Club

“While I am not a professional athlete, I am a chef who has gone from 1 hour intense daily workouts and working 10 to 14 hours a day to doing nothing. Exactly one month ago today I fully tore my pectoral major off my humerus while bench pressing. I am itching to finally have my surgery completed this upcoming Monday.    I'm hoping you can provide me with some insight and guidance. Everyday I find myself in a battle with my monster and athlete. I know what I have to do to control my monster, but it is really exhausting having continuous arguments between the two. It feels like...

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The Injured Athletes Club

“The greater lesson of this is that I've helped open the door—a lot of people have opened the door—to talk about what running on the other side looks like, or not running, what the other side of that looks like. You can still have a creative, active, badass life without pounding on your body, if that doesn't work for you anymore.”   has been a runner for years. She’s also the author of many books about running; a sports and fitness writer who’s written for running publications; and the co-founder of the positive, thriving community   But the last time she ran a step was...

74 | Carrie Answers a Question: Calen’s Chronic Injury show art 74 | Carrie Answers a Question: Calen’s Chronic Injury

The Injured Athletes Club

“I had arthroscopic surgery for FAI/labral tear six years ago, and it's been a long, slow road of recovery. I think my rehab program didn't focus enough on building back strength and mobility before I progressed back to running, so I've dealt with a lot of lower body injuries from overcompensation and bad movement patterns since then. I've been focusing more on mobility and strength in the last year and feeling better, but this week my hip has suddenly felt worse than it has in years. I've been trying to focus on what I can do for it right now and listening to my body, but it's been a really...

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The Injured Athletes Club

“When you think about it, how often is your mind completely absorbed in the task in front of you? How often do you catch your mind wandering off task? Our brains, you know, they like to wander off. Mindfulness helps us bring it back, rein it in, back into this moment.”   When you’re injured, it’s easy to get hooked by negative emotions—perceived failures in your past, frustrations about the present, and fears of an uncertain future.    You can’t rid ourselves of these feelings entirely; they’re a part of being human. But if they’re constantly hijacking your...

72 | Carrie Answers a Question: Erin’s Exasperation show art 72 | Carrie Answers a Question: Erin’s Exasperation

The Injured Athletes Club

“What do you say to people after you get injured and their comment is ‘maybe your body is telling you something?’ This phrase irritates the heck out of me. Of course I’m always looking for something to be learned from an injury but how do they know what MY body is telling ME? I’m reading REBOUND right now (so good) and there are so many athletes with repeated injuries who push through to come back stronger, which is exactly what I want to do. But I wonder how many people told those athletes “maybe your body is trying to tell you something?’ What do you say to that annoying...

71 | Wheelchair Racer Susannah Scaroni: A Newfound Gratitude show art 71 | Wheelchair Racer Susannah Scaroni: A Newfound Gratitude

The Injured Athletes Club

“I remember not knowing whether I was going to be able to race that day. I felt so emotional, I was crying. I had tears on my face and I was just thinking about just how weird the circumstances were, and just feeling how it was taken from Daniela, but it wasn't from me.”   Susannah Scaroni had one career high in summer of 2021—she won her first two Paralympic medals, a gold and a silver, at the Tokyo Games. This past May 29, she had another, when she set the world record in the 5,000 meters for the T54 category.   In between came one of her greatest challenges. In September,...

70 | Carrie Answers a Question: Jamie’s Jumpstart show art 70 | Carrie Answers a Question: Jamie’s Jumpstart

The Injured Athletes Club

“I find it difficult to keep up with daily PT after all these years of rehab and feel like I let myself and my PT down in recent months. This is not the state I want to stop and I want to keep getting better, but the vision of that seems hard to see some days. For the injured athletes that are on long-term recovery tracks, how do you stay motivated and engaged with PT and training when the recovery process is much slower than you want to, or are trying to return to sport but your body is still not fully ready?”   This week, co-host and mental skills coach Carrie Jackson answers a...

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The Injured Athletes Club

“It's so important to pay attention to how you are talking to yourself, because your words influence everything. So you really need to understand your self-talk and start to dive into it a little bit and know, OK, is the way I'm talking to myself right now—is that helping me or is that actually hurting me?”   Imagine you’re walking past two sets of coaches and athletes on the tennis court, track, or soccer pitch. One coach is yelling at an athlete for her poor performance, telling her it’s all her fault and she’ll never improve. The other is offering encouraging words, letting...

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“It was like being a part of a book and finally figuring out the cause of all the pain, the cause of the injuries. Everything started coming together. Just thinking back, I had to ask myself, how in the world did I continue to play?”


ShaRae Mansfield was a superstar on the court during her four years at Western Kentucky University. In 2001, she was a third-round draft pick for the WNBA’s Houston Comets.


All this success came despite the fact that ShaRae was in near-constant pain. By the time she graduated, she’d had six surgeries on her ACL. She loved the game, but her injuries eventually cut her career short, a development that sent her into what she calls a “basketball depression.”


Unsure of what to do next, she went back to finish her degree, then sought help from a psychologist. Little by little, she began to grasp the ways in which losing her athletic identity impacted her, and to work through it. Then—a decade later—a surprising medical diagnosis helped her comprehend all that had happened in her body.


Out of all this pain and challenge came a fierce determination to help others in similar situations. She’s now an advocate for people with chronic conditions (and leader of the Beautiful Warriors support group). And, as a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, ShaRae is studying the difficult transition period out of sports—aiming to smooth the path forward for the next generation of retiring athletes.


A huge thank you to our sponsors for this episode: Fluid Running and 2Toms. Fluid Running makes it possible to maintain your peak physical fitness even when you're injured through the power of deep water running. And 2Toms provides advanced sweat proof, waterproof blister and chafing protection products that keep you moving. Listen for special discount codes in the episode!


In this episode, we discuss:

  • How injuries are viewed in basketball—and the struggle not to see them as weaknesses (6:40)
  • Her earliest experiences with injury and pain, and some of the red flags that popped up as early as elementary school (11:19)
  • The biggest regret she has about her collegiate career (13:53)
  • The huge high of being drafted into the WNBA, and why it was tempered by a feeling of uncertainty (19:15)
  • The “soul-crushing” news that came after that (21:51)
  • The challenges she faced when her career was truly over (30:48)
  • The big revelation, a decade later, that finally explained her extensive injury history (36:58)
  • What it felt like when she finally was able to move without pain (43:56)
  • What she’s studying now, and how she hopes to help other athletes (54:34)


You can subscribe to The Injured Athletes Club on Spotify, Stitcher, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts, and if you like what you hear, please leave us a rating or a review in Apple podcasts. That helps other injured athletes find the show.



  • ShaRae’s Beautiful Warriors support group for people with chronic conditions
  • More of her story on the Arthritis Foundation website

To access more resources for injured athletes:

  • Join The Injured Athletes Club mailing list, for news and updates
  • Join The Injured Athletes Club Facebook group, for support and camaraderie
  • Like The Injured Athletes Club Podcast Facebook page, for the latest episodes
  • Email us at [email protected] with questions, guest suggestions, or other feedback


DISCLAIMER: This content is for educational & informational use only and & does not constitute medical advice. Do not disregard, avoid or delay obtaining medical or health related advice from your health-care professional because of something you may have heard in an episode of this podcast. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult with a qualified medical professional for proper evaluation & treatment. Guests who speak on this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions, and The Injured Athletes Club podcast hosts nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular treatment option discussed in the episodes of this podcast and are not responsible for any actions or inactions of listeners based on the information presented. The use of any information provided is solely at your own risk.