Recovering Mentally From a Sports Injury
Athletes who are dedicated to their sport are bound to experience an injury at some point in their athletic careers. Your doctor and physical therapist can help you focus on your physical recovery, but mental recovery is often overlooked and equally important. Sports injuries can have lasting psychological effects and how you perceive your injury may affect your physical recovery. Comprehensive recovery relies on a good mental attitude.
Maintain a Realistic Perspective
It’s important to accept that you are hurt, that recovery may be slow and difficult, and that you will need to use the determination that made you a great athlete to get back to your former level of performance. Yes, for a while you will experience pain and frustration, and you may even feel angry, frustrated, or depressed. These are normal reactions and you should allow yourself to feel them.
Focus on What You CAN Do
While it’s true that you are temporarily disabled and that is frustrating, it does not mean you will ALWAYS be disabled or that you are powerless. Stay focused on the present and what you can do to help yourself recover. If your doctor told you to rest, make resting a “goal” and take it seriously. If you have been given rehabilitation or exercise to help you maintain other muscles in the body, focus on doing this with the same passion and determination you used to become an athlete in the first place.
Don’t Rush to Recover
Your doctor or therapist will give you a recovery plan, and it’s important to stick to your rehab program. Non-athletes may have trouble sticking with their rehab exercises, but it’s not uncommon for athletes to think that more reps or pushing past the program guidelines will help them to recover more quickly. Unfortunately this can lead to improper healing or even contribute to new injuries. It’s important to follow the recommendations made by the professionals who are helping you to recover.
Redirect Your Passion
Okay, so you can’t go for a training run. You can’t practice with your team. But you can still use the passion that made you a competitive athlete and find fulfillment in accomplishing a goal. Maybe this is a good time to finally learn to play that musical instrument you’ve always wanted to try. Or maybe you can learn to draw. Offer your services as a coach for younger athletes or help your team prepare for a competition as a way to stay involved in your sport. Achieving a goal can not only help take your mind off your recovery, but it can help you to remember that you can overcome the injury because of how you think, not just because of how you move.
After an injury, it can be easy to fall into negative patterns of thinking. Maybe you’re worried you’ll never compete again, or you fear that without your sport you’ll be bored and unhappy. Remember that you became an athlete because you are mentally strong and determined, and that this is merely one of the many parts of your athletic life. Think back to the days before you mastered your sport and keep in mind that you rose from beginner to competitor before and you will do it again. Tell yourself, “I am an amazing athlete, and coming back from this injury will make me even stronger and more competitive.”
Seek Support and Accept Help
No world class athlete rises to an elite level without help – friends, family coaches, trainers, doctors, and physical therapists all play a part in your success. This is especially true after an injury. No matter how independent and self-driven you may be, don’t be afraid to ask for extra help from team members, coaches, and therapists. Asking for help will not only help you in your recovery, but in the long term it will make you stronger and more likely to be able to benefit from support.
Let Move Better Physical Therapy help you recover from your injury – we can help create a rehab program that will get you back to competitive levels as soon as possible. We are also happy to talk with you about ways to keep your attitude positive. Share your goals and fears with us and we will help you understand your recovery for the best possible results. Call us at 434-817-0980 today.