The Injured Athlete Holiday Gift Guide

Athlete Stories

(All images are linked to shop!)

Ah yes, its the most wonderful time of the year. The time to panic google search “what to buy dad for Christmas – not cheesy” in various forms for two weeks straight. And, if you are like me, you simply end up finding a few items to buy for yourself. Because it’s Christmas. And you’re worth it.

Well, whether you ARE injured or you’re panic shopping for your injured friend, I’ve got you.

Make their nutrition easy:

NutriBullet blender

This is my favorite blender for the $50 ish price point. No, it’s not a perfect chop, but it’s great for smoothies, and I like all the cups and tops for easy use.

Souper Cubes

I am OBSESSED with these. I’ll use them for any meal prep, not just soup. I spend the same amount of time cooking, but get to save 8 portions in my freezer for up to 3 months.

Just make sure the food is cooled before putting the lid on and freezing.

Overnight Oats Containers

A super easy way to get protein in at breakfast (make with milk and add some protein powder in), grab and go, and car-friendly.

Harry & David Meal

We’ve all heard of various meal kits, but I love this one from Harry & David because it’s already made. You just need to pop it in the oven.

You can also find Cheryl’s cookie cards on this website; the perfect get well soon greeting for your long distance rehab bestie.

DoorDash Gift Card (or gift)

Another easy meal idea for your long-distance rehab bestie is to just send a meal directly to their door. Make sure they’re home first for food safety reasons, though!

Give some comfort

Big Comfy Sweatpants

Especially if they’re in a knee brace, these are WORTH buying. And buy them at least a size or two too big. SPAAAACE baby.

If you’re ready splurge a bit more, Lululemon’s Scuba sweatpants are incredible.

I also have some athletes that swear by these wideleg Vuori pants.

DIY Advent Calendar

These little boxes are 10 bucks on Amazon, and are super easy to fill with little daily notes of encouragement and/or a piece of candy.

Rehab is MONOTONOUS, and we need to give them something fun to look forward to. A regular advent calendar works too, but there’s something special about adding your own touch.


I know most of us are adults here, but these are just fun. It’s probably something they’d never buy themselves.

AND, they are the perfect pillow for side sleepers to place between their knees (looking at you, knee and hip problem friends).

Gift them your time

Head out to lunch or watch a movie together. Ask them how things are going and if they want/need to vent about anything.

Also ask if there’s any topic they DON’T want to talk about. These question cards from We’re Not Really Strangers are a fun way to waste time together.

Gift them your help

Your friend/family member/partner has an extra burden right now that makes the little things in life a bit more difficult.

Cook them dinner. Offer to clean their apartment. Drive them to class if they’re on crutches. Don’t just say “Hey, how can I help?”, say “Hey, I’d love to help. Which option would be most helpful: A, B, C, or D?”

Give them a laugh

Injured Gingerbread People

Decorating cookies can be a fun activity together (linked). If it’ll go over well, you can break the arm/leg and make your gingerbread person appropriately rehabbing. You could also easily do this with store bought gingerbread cookies.

Injured Ornament

Again, if it goes over well, this could be a fun little thing to gift. You can customize the appearance, gender, name and date.

Just… know your audience on this one.

Support their rehab

Here are a few recommendations from The ACL Academy physical therapist Kaan Celebi. Decent PT might be the best holiday gift you can give your ACL friends actually… 👀

Adjustable Ankle Weights

We need to kick those baby quads into gear.  One pound ankle weights can be a good way to start.  These adjust all the way up to ten pounds, which is perfect. Once you’ve reached the max, you’ll be ready for our favorite exercise: the knee extension machine!

Incrediwear Knee Sleeve

It is crucial to keep swelling at bay to help with range of motion and muscle activation.  Though icing may feel good for pain, compression is better for swelling control.

Neuromuscular Electric Stim Unit

For those headed in to surgery, this is a post-op essential.  We need to wake those quads up, and using muscle stim daily can help expedite the process.

Share a boredom-fighting project

The Woobles Learn to Crochet Kit

Why the heck not? Help your athlete get their mind off what’s going on, and their daydreams away from whatever way they want to be moving, but aren’t allowed to yet.


I always say rehab can be the perfect opportunity to build a new skill. That might be in the kitchen, as a teammate or leader, on your mental skills, or even just a new hobby (see the crochet kit above). MasterClass is an awesome way to explore new depths.

Rebound; Train your mind to bounce back stronger from sports injuries

This is an amazing resource by Carrie Jackson Cheadle and Cindy Kuzma. We read is as a rehab book club this year and were lucky to have both authors on for a Q&A. It is required reading for injured athletes, and I always end up buying new copies because my athletes want to hold on to it.

Make their nutrition project a lot easier

Give your rehabber the gift of nutrition peace of mind this holiday with two awesome ways to work with me.

Six-weeks of nutrition resources, meal planning, and most importantly, 1:1 advice from yours truly.

Whether you’re an athlete or a sports med professional, we’ll zone in on a specific solution you want to solve.

Merry Christmas and happy happy holidays friends.

Sending lots of healing vibes to those that need it. Keep at it.



Okay, now what?

Emily Barnhart