5 Ways Your Mind Can Help You Overcome An Injury Faster
There's an extra large bottle of ibuprofen in my medicine cabinet and two high-grade ice packs ready to go in my freezer. I know my chiropractors office hours better than I know the names of my kid's teachers.
My past injuries have ranged from muscle pulls and strains to a shoulder injury requiring surgery. So when I recently sprained my ankle running, I had another opportunity to revisit why injuries can be so challenging and how to navigate through them.
Whether you're a weekend warrior who can only squeeze in a few runs around your work schedule or a triathlete who trains countless hours a day, injuries mess with our routine and, often, our sanity. They test our sense of self by taking away — even for just a short time — what makes us feel good.
We can react to our injuries like a toddler: We may cry, pout or feel scared. After all, what do you call a runner who does not run? It's not surprising that right after we get injured, we ask ourselves, how quickly can I fix this and how quickly can my real, uninjured life, resume?
Falling into the "it's the end of the world as I know it" mentality, although understandable, is painful and paralyzing. I've noticed my drama around an injury can hurt almost as much as the injury itself.
So, how do we turn the tables and meet our injury with ease? After you've finished endlessly Googling healing options and recovery times, try this:
1. Choose your injury.
This may sound a little weird — why would anyone CHOOSE to be injured? But once you've been injured, by "choosing" it, you're accepting it and can take ownership.
After all, the injury is there. You can't change that. Choosing it doesn't mean that you have to like it, but it does allow you to stop wasting time and energy fighting against it and wishing it never happened.
When I made this shift, I became much more active in the care of my body. I realized that the only one healing my body was me.
2. Get to know your here-and-now body.
What does your body need right now? When you ask yourself that question, it'll likely tell you.
Ironically, our injuries can result from not paying attention to our bodies in the moment. Does it need rest, movement, ice and a warm bowl of soup? Your body right now needs your attention. It's sending you signals and it's important you listen to them.
Press pause on the day dreams of when you're back on your feet and just BE with your current, healing body.
3. Focus on what you can do.
When the injury strikes and you realize you can't run for weeks or do down dog for months, take the opportunity to explore what you can do. Create something new. You may discover something you'd never considered before that works for you.
4. Open your eyes.
What does your injury tell you?
When I fell snowboarding and tore my rotator cuff, it was during a time in my life when I had too much on my plate. I was overwhelmed with work, overextended and had no plans to slow down. It's almost like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders and I couldn't hold things up anymore.
After my surgery, I made a major change and considerably shifted my schedule. Your injury may be a helpful message that something in your life is be out of balance. Take a look.
5. Practice patience and compassion.
Our healing can be a gentle process that takes a lot of energy. As athletes, we're good at pushing our bodies to the limit and often getting immediate results. Now is the time to not push. Healing isn't something we can force.
Injuries can be painful — there's no getting around that — but our healing doesn't have to be. When I choose not to suffer around my injury, it disappears. And then sure enough, I go from a runner that doesn't run to an actively healing runner. I wish the very same for you.