It’s no secret that if you’ve been involved with sports or serious training long enough, then you’ve probably experienced injury. From minor muscle strains, to major reconstructive surgery, and everything in between, injuries can often turn into a setback. Although, they can also become a tremendous learning opportunity when approached correctly.
With each injury I have experienced, I’ve always tried to take the knowledge that I’ve obtained throughout the process and apply it to my clients, athletes, and my future self. You can’t aways prevent other’s or yourself from experiencing injury, but you can always have control on your outlook throughout the process, and how you overcome that obstacle. At the time, it’s not always easy to see it that way, but as time goes on, we often realize that maybe it was all a blessing in disguise.
Because this process can be extremely challenging, both mentally and physically, it is imperative that a plan is established before taking the steps to recovery. Whether it be with ourselves, our athletes, or our clients, the approach itself is very similar, and there are certain steps that need to be taken in order to return them to sport or daily activity. As a professional, it is my obligation and duty to make sure that I help each individual return to their activity as soon and as healthy as possible, while also helping them through those mentally challenging times that they will experience along the way. When helping ourselves, this process is no different.
To approach this, let’s use a 5 rule system.
1: Surround yourself with quality individuals: We spend our lives building connections and developing relationships. Now we must use those resources and connections that we have built over the years in order to help ourselves. Never be too prideful to ask for help. The best things we can do in this situation is take a step back, humble ourselves, and look for help. If you have to travel or search far and wide for that help, do it. It will certainly be worth it.
2: Take time off if needed: For most of us, we are instilled with this mindset that we must never stop; that if want want to achieve our goals we must keep going. But sometimes when we are constantly going, and our minds are full of things coming from many directions, we become paralyzed and unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s okay to take a few weeks off. Sit down and reflect on your life and your current situation. Give focus and gratitude to those things that maybe you’ve been neglecting. You will be surprised how much it helps you once you begin the road to recovery.
3: Establish challenges & set yourself up for wins: Once we know what needs to be done, we now must set daily, weekly, and monthly goals in order to stay on track. Once that is established, an action plan is put into place. We know our goals, now let’s ask ourselves what needs to be accomplished each day in order to get there. This can be extremely overwhelming at times, so it’s important to set yourself up with small challenges inside and outside of the gym that are very achievable. With each challenge completed, that is a small win. Continuous small wins add up into major victories over time.
4: Work on your weaknesses: Every injury that I’ve ever had has given me an opportunity to work on something else that I was neglecting. Whether this was physical or psychological, the injury is often a blessing in disguise and an opportunity staring you directly in your face. Most injuries are usually caused by an imbalance or a neglect of another area of our body. While you’re recovering, take the time to to focus on those other things such as stretching and mobility, overall conditioning, nutrition, stress management, etc. If we don’t take the time to find the cause and approach it, then there’s always a chance it may happen again.
5: Get it off your mind: Unless we are working on our physical therapy or any of the things listed above, get the injury off of your mind and out of your head. One of the worst things we can do is become consumed with something when we have no reason to be thinking about it. If you are performing rehab work, talking with a professional, or putting a plan of action together, then be 100% in that moment. When you aren’t, let it leave your mind and focus on those things right in front of you.