Coping with the stress of an injury requires both physical and psychological resilience. Sports injury recovery typically focuses on physical rehab, but it's also important to include sports psychology techniques to help recover mentally and emotionally.
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 these feelings are real, it’s important to move beyond the negative and find more positive strategies to cope with this setback. In many cases dealing gracefully with an injury helps an athlete become a more focused, flexible, and resilient athlete. Here are some sports psychology strategies you can use for faster injury recovery.
Learn About Your InjuryLearn as much as possible about the cause, treatment and prevention of your injury. Not fully understanding an injury can cause fear or anxiety. Learn how to talk to your doctor.
Ask the following questions of your doctor, trainer, coach or therapist until you know exactly what you can do to heal quickly and fully.
- What is my diagnosis (what type of injury do I have)?
- How long will recovery take?
- What is the purpose of the treatments I am receiving?
- What should I expect during rehab?
- What alternative workouts can I safely do?
- What are the warning signs that I am getting worse?
By understanding the injury and knowing what to expect during the rehabilitation process, you will feel less anxiety and a greater sense of control.
Accept Responsibility for Your InjuryThis is not to say that the injury is your fault. What this means is that you accept that now you have an injury and you are the only one that can fully determine your outcome. By taking responsibility for your recovery process, you 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 AttitudeTo heal quickly you need to be committed to overcoming your injury by showing up for your treatments, working hard, and listening and doing what your doctor and/or athletic trainer recommend. You also need to monitor what you are thinking and saying to yourself regarding the injury and the rehab process. Your self-talk is important. Are your thoughts negative and self-defeating? To get the most out of your daily rehab, you need to work hard and maintain a positive attitude. Remain focused on what you need to do.
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Remember to work closely with your therapist or doctor. They can help you set realistic goals that are in line with each stage of your rehab. Most athletes have a tendency to try to speed-up the recovery by doing too much too soon. It is important to accept that you are injured and know your limits.
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. Make sure you see your doctor for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan for any injury.