The Emotional Side of Injury: It’s Real, Painful, and What to Do While You Heal

When you face an injury, the damage isn’t always just physical – many people also deal with emotional/psychological effects after an injury or surgery. Recently, Runner’s World profiled ways to deal with common emotions many runners face when unable to run due to injury. WebMD published a different article, which cited a study indicating that people may be at an increased risk for depression after stopping exercise for any reason! Your mental health is a great reason to get and stay active – and if (or when) injury prevents you from keeping up with your favorite activities or sports, here are some of our tips to keep your eyes on the prize and your spirits up until you’re back in the game.

Shift Your Focus: There’s power in positive thinking, and while you’ll have to work through the hard realization that this may not be your big race, or summer of the triathlon, by finding meaning in your injury you can minimize the emotional discomfort. For instance, you may use this time to figure out why you experienced this particular injury and work toward overall total strength to prevent future set- backs. Finding a role model who has overcome injury can also be helpful – many elite athletes have triumphed after dramatic injury! For instance: Shalane Flanagan soared at last year’s New York Marathon and won – after failing to run the Boston Marathon because she had suffered a low back fracture due to some training she later questioned (and rectified).

Make the Time Off Work for You: Runner’s World suggests making the best of the mandatory break you’re stuck with, and we agree! If you’re able, and your medical provider and physical therapist allow, take this opportunity to work in some gentle training. Try some pool time, as many injuries (with certain limitations) benefit from the water’s buoyancy. If you’re used to year-round training, this may be the perfect time to let your body rest and recover – enjoy some light walking, gentle yoga, or see what your physical therapist suggests. In the grand scheme of things, your injury will be a short time period – so try to keep it in perspective.

Turn Your Recovery Into Training: We’ve recommended this before – treat your injury/surgery rehab the same way you treat your fitness training. It’s totally natural to be frustrated that you can’t enjoy your usual fitness activities, but channel all that energy into your recovery efforts and it’ll help you see results. Working with a physical therapist can help by giving you specific exercises to do, both at the provider’s facility as well as at home on your own. Your physical therapist will provide expert guidance and ensure that your rehabilitation stays on track. By staying dedicated to working with your provider, and following his/her plan, you’ll turn your recovery into your regular training in no time.

If you’re dealing with the aftermath of injury, Body One Physical Therapy has a terrific team of caring and highly-trained providers ready to help. We work with a wide variety of clients of all ages, backgrounds, and activity levels and have five locations serving central Indiana so you can find what best fits your schedule. Body One locations: Downtown Indianapolis, North Indianapolis, South Indianapolis, Zionsville, and Fishers. Don’t suffer in silence, call us today!

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