April 15, 2014

5 Essential Steps to Emotional Recovery after Exercise Related Injuries. ~ Kim Anthony


Working out can be fun; sustaining an injury while doing so is quite the opposite.

I  should know—last summer I was a product of an exercise related injury. What started out as a beautiful, sunny afternoon run, abruptly concluded with a fluke fall, an uneventful emergency room visit and a fracture to my right knee or as I jokingly refer to as a monkey wrench to my summer.

The introduction of my first and hopefully last major injury forced me to take a jarring look into the whole situation and evaluate my own role in this unpleasant experience. What became clear was that I may have unknowingly played a part in my injury due to various factors, such as: a lackadaisical approach toward stretching, not wearing surface-appropriate shoes, or simply a matter of my not being as knowledgeable as I could have been about injury prevention practices.

Coming to that harsh realization was half the battle. That was the day I committed to turning this lemon of a situation into an icy, sweet pitcher of lemonade.

Nearly one year and an occasional limp later, my fracture is nearly healed. Admittedly, it was a roller coaster of a recovery, but a recovery nonetheless. And with an injury of that nature, the recovery never really ends. Needless to say, the experience made me more knowledgeable, stronger, resilient and fitter than I ever was before. And thanks to the following principles, I was able to identify, evaluate and inevitably renew my perspective.

My experience inadvertently reminded me that nothing grows where the sun always shines. Flowers need sunshine as well as rain/water to grow. This was the idea that transformed my disparaging outlook into growth and gratefulness.

These principles can be applied to almost any life changing experience.

1. Face Your Injury Head On

Denial has no place in recovery; face your injury head on. Refusing to acknowledge or identify with the injury only delays its healing. Learning to accept your altered physical state will be one of the first crucial steps to rehabilitation. Acceptance forges the road to peace, releasing the worst so you can make room for the best. In recovery, moving forward without the constant need to look back is cathartic.

2. Educate Yourself

Learn as much as you can about the possible cause and treatment of your injury. Experts report that not fully understanding an injury can potentially result in fear or anxiety. Don’t be afraid to ask your practitioner questions. Write them down before you inquire; questions like: How long will recovery take? What should I expect during the rehabilitation process? What alternative workouts can I safely do? How will I know I’m getting better? Keep in mind, there are no silly questions when it comes to your health, well-being and making progress.

3. Welcome Support & Embrace Injury Recovery

Are you the “do it yourself” type of person? Do you have an “I really don’t like to ask for help or be a bother” attitude? This will more than likely be one of those occasions you’ll have to abandon your pride; allowing others (family, friends and medical staff) to assist you. Rest assured, the time will come when you’ll be able to do more for and by yourself. In the meanwhile, relying on the folks who are willing to kindly offer their help may prove to be invaluable. Additionally, if you believe in prayer or meditation, use it! Nourish your faith or spirituality and watch it grow your resilience.

4. Make Optimism and Positivity Your New BFF

You are what you speak! It’s important to understand that negative thoughts breed negative results. With that said, allow positive thinking to guide your recovery. Fuel your mind, hope and promise via inspirational books, optimistic friends, journaling, and helping others. Make daily goals for yourself and strive to keep them.

Take inventory of your ongoing improvements and direct your attention towards things that make you smile. All of which can make for a smoother journey down the winding road to full recovery—and don’t forget to take your rose-tinted glasses along for the ride!

5. Next Stop: Recovery

Your patience, dedication and commitment will reap its just rewards in due time. Once your physician gives you the “thumbs up” to exercise, go for it! It may not be the type of workout you’re accustomed to, but it’s a workout nonetheless. If you can’t run, you might try cycling or swimming. Staying physically active while incorporating movement back into your daily regimen will breed promising results.

Don’t overdo it! Remember moderation is the key.

Work with your trainer, therapist or physician to establish reasonable exercise alternatives. Be patient with yourself and your rehabilitation. Replace “I can’t” with “I can.” Complete healing is right around the corner. With a positive attitude and determined spirit, your body will start to heal.

Take it one day at a time on the windy road to recovery; maintaining a positive attitude and a determined spirit will give you the fuel you need to eventually accomplish a full and safe recovery.


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Apprentice Editor: Edith Lazenby/Editor: Catherine Monkman

Image: Elephant archives

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