Today’s Topic: Getting Over an Injury
Hi everyone! I’m Coach Diana. I am going to be talking to you today about injury and injury recovery. I’m going to address a community member question first. The question was:
Q: I’ve been feeling kind of down since I was injured back in September, and it doesn’t seem to be healing. I feel like I’m in a slump. Do you have any suggestions on exercises and things to do for me to feel better and focus on recovery?
First let me say that feeling like you’re in the slumps is very common when you have an injury, especially one that seems to be lingering a long time.
There are a few typical reactions that we get when we are injured. A lot of times people deny they’re injured. They deny the severity of the injury and they might deny that at different stages along the way.
Anger and Depression
Another typical response is to be angry and frustrated, sometimes even depressed. Depression and injury go hand in hand. You may be feeling like you’re down in the slumps and you might not be depressed, but similar to it. Also, athletes tend to feel like they may have lost their identity when they get injured, especially if their sport is who they are.
Fear and Anxiety
Athletes often have fear and anxiety and lose their confidence. We hope that in the future they will gain it back, but it takes time. It’s very typical to have responses like that.
So, here are some tips that I have to help you when you’re in a slump and need to work on getting through it. One of the things that I do with the athletes I work with is really stress getting involved in different types of work outs.
Work Out Differently
For example, I had a baseball player with an injured knee. For a long time he couldn’t do a lot of baseball training, but he was able to swim. Swimming was just the challenge he needed. It made him feel good trying to accomplish and be good at something different. This was just for exercise not to become a swimmer.
Another thing he got from swimming was it raised his endorphins, the natural chemicals and receptors in your brain that trigger positive feelings. When you’re used to playing a sport or going to the gym everyday and all of a sudden you’re not able to, you’re losing that natural endorphin release. This is why trying to get involved in another activity can probably help your recovery, help your rehab, and also give you something to do.
Find Another Activity
I had a soccer player who learned how to do a boxing routine. Sometimes she might have hit the bag, but most of the time she was practicing her footwork. That really helped her feel like she was doing something towards soccer without actually playing or being out on the field.
In gymnastics there are multiple events. There might be one or two that you can do in spite of your injury. Another thing that I think is really helpful is journaling. It’s such a great avenue to be able to write about your feelings and let them out. When we hold it all inside, it doesn’t go away. In fact, it actually gets worse. Even just writing about it helps you release and then you can start dealing with it.
Depending on where you’re at in your recovery process, you should definitely be setting goals. You can do this alongside your physician, physical therapist, athletic trainer – whoever you’re working with. You should also set some goals in terms of coming back or being able to play or participate again in your sport.
I think one of the biggest things athletes struggle with is having unrealistic expectations when they return from an injury. Sometimes they think everything’s going to be perfect and they’re going do it exactly how they were able to do it before the injury.
Well, your body doesn’t forget how to do things but your timing is going be a little bit off, especially if you’ve been out for a considerable amount of time. Things might be a bit slower. Usually your reaction is slower so your skills might seem terrible when all it is your timing is off.
Give Yourself Time
If you give yourself a few days to get your timing back then that will help. For instance, it’s going to feel great right away when you go from being on the sidelines to actually being able to practice again, but then you’ll usually end up pretty sore. Not giving yourself enough time to ease back in will really impact you.
If you can set some realistic goals about your return to play, it will also help your emotions. What happens when you have unrealistic expectations and you go back to practice is you end up in the slumps again. You had these high expectations and you’re not meeting them. Now, that’s not because you’re not exactly where you should be, it’s just because you had unrealistic expectations. Just having an idea that you’re not going to be perfect and that things aren’t going to go perfectly right away will put you in a good place when you return.
I like to tell my athletes that from the time they’re injured all the way through the time they are back practicing 100%, they go on an emotional roller coaster. Some days are good and you feel good, some days are bad. Whatever the injured body part is, if you wake up in the morning and it feels good, it feels loose, then you’re usually in a good mood.
If you wake the next day and it’s really stiff, all of a sudden, you dip down again. That’s the emotional roller coaster. There are lots of things that play into where your emotions go, but if you stay on this emotional roller coaster, then there are things that we do to make it a smoother ride. Goal setting can certainly help with that because you will go on another emotional roller coaster if you don’t have realistic expectations.
Visualization is something else you can do to help focus on recovery. You can do different types of visualization – if you are dealing with an injury right now, you can do a pain and healing visualization. You can also do a performance visualization where you’re really trying to focus on getting ready and when you’ll come back. You can start getting your mind ready way before your body since your body is still physically recovering.
Have Less Stress
The last thing I would say is try to stress less. A lot of times we get stressed about the progress we’re making or getting back to being as good as where we were before. The problem is that when we’re stressing out, we’re actually impeding our body’s ability to heal on its own.
Try to stress less. Focus on what you can control and try to let go of the rest of the stuff. I would say if you’re not able to practice fully, focus on what you can do in practice. Are there some events that you can do, or maybe conditioning? If that’s all that you are physically ready to do then focus 100% on that while you’re there. Make sure you’re focusing on all the things that you can do. Give it all you’ve got and then focus on what your goals are. Doing this will help focus you on recovery and the positives versus feeling down because of what you can’t do.
So those are my tips for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to leave a message and I will try to answer them on here or in another live video. Have a good day!