Dealing with Injury
Reproduced with Permission from Ezia Human Performance.
Written by Joe Walker
|A positive mindset and proper physical therapy are key components to a fast and strong recovery|
Coping with a sports injury requires both physical and psychological rehabilitation. Often times recovery typically focuses on physical rehab, but it’s important to include a positive mindset, sports psychology skills and techniques to expedite the athlete’s recovery.
In my years of clinical experience, I find that athletes react to injuries with a wide range of emotions which may include denial, anger, sadness and even depression. An injury often seems unfair to anyone who has been physically active and otherwise healthy. Although there is no denying these feelings, it ís extremely important to move beyond the negative and find more positive strategies to cope with the setback. In many cases, effectively recovering from an injury helps an athlete become a more focused, flexible, and stronger athlete. Below are various strategies an athlete can utilize for a successful injury recovery.
Learn About Your Injury
Learn as much as possible about the cause, treatment and prevention of your injury. Not fully understanding an injury can cause fear or anxiety. An athlete can ask the following questions of their doctor, trainer, coach or therapist until they know exactly what they can do to heal quickly and fully.
- What is the diagnosis (what type of injury do they have)?
- How long will recovery take?
- What is the purpose of the treatments they will receive?
- What should they expect during rehab?
- What alternative workouts can they safely do?
- What are the warning signs that things are not progressing and/or regressing?
By comprehending the injury and knowing what to expect during the rehabilitation process, an athlete will feel less anxiety and a greater sense of control.
Accept Responsibility for the Injury
This is not to say that the injury the athlete’s fault. What this means, is that they accept that they have an injury now and are the only one that can fully determine the outcome. By taking responsibility for the recovery process, an athlete will find a greater sense of control and will quickly progress in recovery, rather than dwelling on the past or blaming the injury on an outside factor.
Maintain a Positive Attitude
To heal quickly an athlete needs to be committed to overcoming their injuries by showing up for treatments, working hard, and listening and doing what the doctor and/or physical therapist recommends. Furthermore, an athlete needs to also monitor what they are thinking and saying to themselves regarding the injury and the rehab process. Self-talk is important. Are thoughts negative and self-defeating? To get the most out of daily rehab, one needs to work hard and maintain a positive mindset (one of the four pillars of our foundation at EZIA).
Use the Mind to Heal the Body
Current research indicates that it may be possible to accelerate the recovery process with specific mental skills and techniques such as imagery and self-hypnosis. Imagery techniques utilize the senses to create mental images, feelings and sensations related to a desired outcome as though it is happening now or has already happened.
A common response after an injury is to isolate oneself from teammates, coaches, and friends. It is important to maintain contact with others during the recovery process. Teammates, friends and coaches can listen and offer advice or encouragement during the rehab process. Simply realizing that one doesn’t have to face the injury alone can be a tremendous comfort.
Set Appropriate Goals
Just because there is an injury, doesn’t mean that an athlete has to stop planning or setting goals. Rather than viewing the injury as a crisis, they can make it another training challenge. Goals will focus on recovery rather than performance.This will help keep them motivated. By monitoring their goals they will also be able to notice small improvements in the rehab of the injury. Here are some examples from our world-class athlete’s twitter feeds….
“Making strides in therapy today…”.
“Got to 124 degrees flexion today at @eziasd. Thanks Joe”.
“Just ran for the first time since my surgery… 1.8 miles”.
“Just had my ankle and shoulder worked on at @eziasd , feeling much better now. Gotta skate me some more vert”.
“Yeah Joe! Thanks for the help… Felt great to skate!”
“Thanks Joe, your help was crucial and appreciated”
“Skated vert today and it felt pretty darn good. It’s only been 5 weeks since my ankle injury!”.
By working closely with the therapist or doctor, realistic goals can be achieved in line with each stage of the recovery. Most athletes have a tendency to try to speed-up the recovery by doing too much too soon. It is important to accept the injury and know the limits.
Maintain Your Fitness While Injured
I can not stress this enough!!! Depending upon the type of injury, an individual should modify their training regimen and/or add alternate forms of training to maintain cardiovascular conditioning and strength. It is ideal to work with a trainer, therapist, or physician to establish a safe and effective workout program.
With patience, realistic goals, and maintaining a positive focused approach, most athletes can overcome minor injuries quickly and major injuries in time. “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity”. Hippocrates (460 BC – 370 BC)
If you have an injury, please see a doctor and rehabilitate at EZIA Human Performance with our elite sports therapy team. I don’t always get injured. But when I do, I maintain a positive mindset…. Stay healthy my friends!
Joe Walker, MPT
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.