Sports injuries are both physically and mentally challenging. Injured athletes experience a wide range of emotions such as depression, anxiety, stress, shock, lack of confidence and frustration.
Your response to injury will affect your rehab as well as your return to action.
If you think of your injury as a journey, the challenges are different depending on where you are along that journey. The immediacy of taking in the impact of severity of the injury, to that feeling of helplessness and needing to rely on other people.
Then you get to go into training and see everybody zooming past you and you are thinking: ‘They are all better than me.’
The next stage is coming back into training with the fear of re-injury and the lack of confidence in your ability to perform as you did before the injury.There are a whole range of things you need to go through before you are ready to resume your sport.
By having the right mental approach to your recovery and the situation you are able to set goals, identify strategies and back yourself to return better than before you got injured.
Here are eight tips to help you through the process so you can stay positive and emerge from the experience as a stronger athlete.
1. It could always be worse. Keep your injury in perspective. It isn’t the end of the world. There will always be other games, so don’t worry about the one you’re going to miss.
2. Follow your prescribed exercise restrictions. Trying to do too much, too soon can delay a full recovery.
3. Ask your medical advisors about alternative exercises. You may be restricted from weight-bearing exercises, but deep-water pool running or upper-body strength training may be fine.
4. Turn a negative into a positive. Often a “forced” rest is just what your body needs. When you resume training you will be rested and eager to get back on track.
5. Stay focused on what you can do instead of what you can’t do. Identify 1 or 2 aspects of your game that can be improved while you are in the process of rehabbing. Commit to working on these daily.
6. Target a “comeback” match. This will give you something to work hard towards.
7. Train smart. Don’t risk re-injury by training too aggressively. Rather, ease back into your training with a plan.
With the right knowledge, support and patience an injury can be overcome without turning your whole world upside down. By taking things slow, setting realistic goals, and maintaining a positive, focused approach, most athletes can overcome minor injuries quickly and major injuries in time.
Athletic injury, whether temporary or permanent, is and always will be a painfully disruptive and uncontrollable interruption in an athlete’s life. If you follow some of the guidelines in this article you can speed up the rehab process and lessen the emotional pain that normally accompanies most athletic injuries.
Understand also that when you as an athlete first get back out there on the field or court, you will naturally be preoccupied with worries about hurting yourself again. Don’t be alarmed by this. Fear of re-injury is absolutely normal. Focus on what you need to do in order to execute perfectly. While this may be far easier said then done in the beginning, discipline yourself to maintain a positive focus on your performance.
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