SPORTS INJURY AND THE MIND
The hardest part about recovery from sports injury is the mind. The best athletes are able to stay proactive during injury and use injury as an opportunity to grow and come back even stronger than they were before. As I’ve discovered this week this is much easier to say or to advise than to do! However if you can keep checking in, keep being conscious of negative thoughts that lead to a downward spiral, you can realise that injury can in fact give you space to focus on things you’d usually neglect. To focus on the reason you potentially got injured. To strengthen weak areas or compensatory movement patterns that could have made the injury more likely. To find ways to train without a detrimental effect on the recovery. To focus on ways to gain the chemical advantages you get from exercise without loading or putting the injury at risk. To then come back stronger mentally, physically, with more protection. Areas that used to be your weakness can become your strength and you can return with more tools in your toolbox than you had before the injury.
I know. Easy to say. Much harder to do. When you realise you are in a negative downward spiral it’s good to write down your goals. Write down your values. Write down your intentions. Then when your emotions take over (which they will at some point during recovery) you can refer back to these rather than being swept away by pity, negativity, fear and anxiety. An extreme example of this was working with Cotty when he broke his back. Really hard to find a positive, really hard to stay proactive. But the intention was to accept the lows rather than react to them. To go back to the goals. To use breathing techniques and breath hold to create a chemical change to mimic the the natural highs of exercise. To do something rather than nothing. To find perspective. To focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t.
What is your sports injury? Now put it in in perspective with Cottys broken back. Write down now what you can do rather than focusing on what you can’t. I’ve got an inflamed disc what can I do? Rest, read, study, meditate, work on breathing techniques, help others, muscle release techniques, Swim, Walk. Cotty broke his back! What could he do? Breathing techniques to mimic altitude training in bed, then when ready upper body Dumbell and bodyweight, Rehab, Pool rehab, Nutrition focus, Focus on work/Talks/retreats. There’s always something, even if the situation seems desperate.
The body listens to the mind. Be strong in the mind and the body will follow. (Faragher 2019) . If you are able to find this space you will indeed come back stronger around where your injury was, more in tune with your body and mind, more wise. Maybe you’ll come back a better human as well as an athlete as you move away from ego and towards the soul.