Healing from sports injuries takes time and it is not only unpleasant physically but also mentally. For people who look for any excuse not to exercise, injury can be a heaven. But for the rest of us who love to move this recovery period can be a hell. We count on exercise to release our anxieties, relax our minds, and keep us happier, healthier, and saner.
So what happens when injury takes over?
We swear, we frown, or we may cry, shout and even scream. Sound familiar no? Should you feel embarrassed for overreacting? No, these emotions are to be expected. It is normal and - in fact, healthy.
Going through injury can be compared to any other mourning and grieving we experience in our lives. It can give us a sense of loss, similar to those of loss of job or a pet. In order to deal with this pain and frustration it's important to adopt a recovery and a grieving strategy.
Are you suffering from an injury? Book your FREE consultation with Rob today! He is an expert at helping people deal with injuries!
So let's put this into stages to help you recover faster, meaning you'll get to exercise sooner.
STAGE #1 - DENIAL
Most of us tend to ignore pains and aches here and there, hoping it will just disappear. The bad news is, that if not taken care of, these little pains can turned into an actual serious injury. This could then lead to stopping us from doing any exercise all together.
So listen to your body and at the first sign of a potential injury, be smart! Back off, go and get it checked. Better be safe than sorry, and it's better to spend a few days resting, than months of recovery and expensive physiotherapy.
STAGE #2 - ANGER
Yes, learning that you have to stay away from exercise can indeed be disappointing, or even devastating. You may be wondering why is this happening to you?! Why now?! You may feel it is unfair, you feel like a victim which then triggers anger. You may be angry at your body, your trainer/ training routine, your family and friends, and even the universe.
As hard or as impossible as it may seem, having a positive attitude can really help. Using positive self-talk, giving yourself some self-love and setting goals for your recovery can actually fasten the process. So yeah, be angry and hurt for a few days, then man-up / women - up and look forward. Set some rehabilitation goals so that you can notice and celebrate your improvements. Remember to start slow - if you're starting to build up core strength again, start with short plank holds from 15 seconds, then 30, then up to 60 seconds.
STAGE #3 - PATIENCE
When you finally confront your injury, you might want to do it all and do it right then and there. Unfortunately, recovery needs time! Thinking that the more rehab you do - more frequently, more repetitions, heavier weights, you I'll get back on your feet sooner? Well, think again. The good old - 'less is more' definitely applies here. Or take the Aesop's story about The tortoise and the Hare for example, it is the slow tortoise wins the race after all.
Instead begin to fix your problem step by step, but don't go overboard. You can't fast forward recovery, you have to slow-motion it. Follow your set rehab the same way you would your training routine. And in most cases, profound injury recovery can make us a better athletes in the long run.
STAGE #4: POOR MOOD
This is when the enthusiasm you might experience at the start of your rehab routine fades away. Stages of poor mood or even depression coming from your expected time and speed of recovery are natural here. This can lead to a disruption of identity and belonging, that are so important in our lives. An athlete can experience a loss identity when sports participation is put on hold and removed from the day to day activities.
You might ask yourself - what's the point? You begin to miss the endorphins that exercise provides, and you feel cut off and isolated. Instead of focusing on all the things that you cannot, focus on the things you can do. Injured shoulder? Work on the legs, the gluteus, or the core. Find some other activities to fill in the time that you used to spend exercising. There might even be this long forgotten to do list of things you never had the time to do - well now you have all the time in the world. Or take up on some other forms of exercise that are safe for you to practice, in most cases one of the following: swimming, cycling, walking or yoga.
STAGE #5: (finally) ACCEPTANCE
This happens when you are following your rehab plan and you notice progression. You now you've been injured and need to play it safe for now, but you also know that soon you'll be back on your feet.
Acceptance is critical part of any recovery because stress and injury go hand in hand. Anxiety and stress can cause your muscles to tense and your immune system to lower. This can also delay the recovery process. Practice a positive and peaceful mindset that encourages healing.
STAGE #6: FEAR
You put your head down, spent the time away from exercise and you're ready to return to you active lifestyle, but it doesn't feel the same at first. Fear of re-injury is natural, and this is the part where you have to focus more on your mind, rather than the physical recovery.
It is very common that after suffering an injury, you may question whether you are ready to work to achieve your pre-injury fitness level, and this can hugely affect confidence. So this is where constant positive energy and encouragement are crucial.
Book your FREE consultation with Rob today! He is an expert at helping people who have had/have an injury and identify poor movement patterns that may lead to injury.
Average Healing Times
*Note that these are based on people in reasonably good shape, without any chronic illness and the times are only rough estimates.
• Simple fractures (depending on a type and where it's located): at least 6 weeks
• Fractured finger or Toe: 3 to 5 weeks
• Fractured collarbone: 5 to 10 weeks
Sprains and Strains
• Minor ankle sprain: 5 days, severe ankle sprain: 3 to 6 weeks
• Minor calf strain, pull, or tear: 2 weeks, severe injury: up to 3 months or more
• Minor pulled or strained back: 4-6 weeks, severe injury: up to 10 weeks
• Mild thigh strain: 10 days - 3 weeks, severe strain (such as a hamstring strain): up to 6 months