Recovering from an injury can be a daunting and challenging journey. When an injury is tied into a person’s earning potential and identity, it can be devastating. If you are hurting and trying to navigate a new way of doing things, this blog is for you.
The good news is, there are many ways to manage this type of stress and unexpected challenge. There is opportunity to grow, evolve, adapt, and learn new things as a result of an injury. Below are tips for making the most of your recovery process, along with a recommend Youtube video and podcast.
Set a proper mindset
If your mindset is one of rigidity, fear and anger it will be more difficult to heal, recover and come to a place of acceptance. Embracing the position you are in may help you see potential positives. For example, a lack of mobility may give you more time with a loved one who is supporting you. That time together may strengthen your relationship and create long lasting memories, as Jasmyne Spencer shares in the Jordan Angeli’s podcast Show Your Scars, https://open.spotify.com/episode/67ap9DOQXaiXBKcB42UIFN.
Do not let your injury or physical mobility define you. We are multidimensional with many attributes and strengths that make us interesting and unique. For example, a dancer can also be a mother, sister, friend, lover of music, volleyball player and enjoy baking. When we narrow our identify into one specific thing, we are limiting ourselves.
Measure micro progress
Setting realistic goals and measuring progress, even if it is small, is important. Let us consider a female athlete who had injuries due to bone density. If nutritional changes are part of her recovery program, progress for her may mean incorporating an additional 10 grams of protein with each meal.
Some athletes and performers struggle to recognize progress in small doses, as they are quite motivated, driven, ambitious and often strive for perfection. If it is hard to see progress despite following through with your rehabilitation plan, look at the situation from a different lens. Imagine you are coaching someone who is in your position. What advice or suggestion would you give that person? You may notice the feedback you give someone you care about may be less harsh than the feedback you give yourself.
Regularly track and review progress
Consider a triathlete who is not able to maintain steady energy levels and experiences severe GI distress during endurance events. If nutritional changes are part of the recovery program, the athlete may keep a fueling journal to track supplements, hydration and food consumed during exercise and races. The journal provides details to review, symptoms, progress or lack of progress. It also helps one reflect on patterns and trends, which provide valuable feedback.
Visual reports can be helpful to monitor recovery and strength. You might have a favorite device and app that you use when training. For example, Training Peaks software and a Garmin watch paired together provide countless reports and visual charts that account for many variables. Here is a situation in which you may want to measure progress, if you are now incorporating swimming due to a running injury. You would be able to see the yards increase over time as your endurance builds in the pool. This gained endurance maintains the aerobic base you built up prior to injury.
Follow through with Rehabilitation
It may be tempting to cut short your rehabilitation as it is time consuming and can be frustrating. If you start feeling better you might consider discontinuing the plan altogether. Discarding the remainder of your rehabilitation most likely increases your chances of re-injury.
If you are getting bored with your routine try mixing it up. Put on your favorite playlist and headphones for some added inspiration. Try doing your exercises in a new location, new order or with a friend. Interviewing others who have successfully recovered from your injury may inspire you.
Get creative with alternatives
Now more than ever we are seeing people adapt in all areas of life! With gyms being closed, people are posting on social media their home version of gym modifications. Since families are spending more time together now, you may want to ask your child to help you with a certain exercise. Consider setting up a home version obstacle course that incorporates the movements you need to do and invite your kids to join in. You could talk with your child about your recovery process and model for them a positive, healthy way to approach healing from an injury.
Reap the benefits of your modifications
Often an injury in sport requires us to rely on another mode of exercise for cross training. When using different muscles and ranges of motion we may become more flexible and correct muscle imbalances.
Now is also an opportunity to take a mindset break from our chosen sport, which helps avoid burnout. If your training has been reduced, take time to work with your therapist or coach to learn new skills and strategies for managing distressing thoughts and painful emotions. You may be surprised how much you benefit from some new methods such as visualization, meditation or grounding exercises.
Explore silver linings
As people say, a closed door leads to an open one. Injury often has a silver lining. Seeing the silver lining may be difficult, especially if the injury deals with our livelihood, for example: a torn rotator cuff of a professional swimmer, laryngitis for a singer, a stress fracture in the foot of a dancer.
Think back to a time of extreme struggle and challenge in your life. Did anything positive result from that situation? Did you learn any lessons from that experience in which you applied later in your life?
Look to others for additional support and encouragement. Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning, is an incredible inspiration for people all over the world. Even when faced with cancer, he remained incredibly optimistic and positive. Consider Bethany Hamilton, a surfer who lost her arm in a shark attack and become a professional surfer as an amputee (in addition to being a new mother!) Professional horseback riding champion, Amberley Snyder, who no longer is able to use her legs after an auto accident, is another positive role model.
My hope is that this blog gives you inspiration and strength if you are recovering from an injury. To hear from others who have struggled to overcome injury, see this You Tube video,
Injury Motivation 2020 – The Hardest Part.