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OUCH! That surely hurt

Having had a couple of injuries in my time, and with clients experiencing some niggles and pain in their joints, I thought I’d jot down a couple of things to assist in the recovery.

As we know, most lessons we (should) live by is based on the 80/20 rule: 80% good nutrition, 20% cheat snacks & meals; weight loss is based around 80% food and only 20% exercise; even our wardrobe is based on the 80/20 rule - we wear 20% of our clothes, 80% of the time! But the most important life lesson to remember is that the mindset is the umbrella of the 80/20 principle. It is this mindset that plays tricks on us when we get injured and may hinder the time-frame of our recovery. Lets not forget that this mindset, and in fact ‘injury’ can be found in our personal and/or professional life as well. Lack of finances for a period; your company didn’t win a tender; lost your job; your business partner betrayed you; your life partner betrayed you.

I’m going to focus on physical injury today, but keep in mind that injury is a broad term and the key thing is to revert the negative "fixed" mindset to a positive "growth" one so recovery is not a long drawn out experience.

Speaking from experience, when an injury occurs there is a mix of emotions that may play on the mind including denial, anger, sadness and even depression. The notion that it is unfair that you are in this position when you keep yourself physically fit and healthy is incomprehensible. As much as this is a common thought process, we need to shift the negative coping mechanism to a more positive strategy. Ensuring a positive mind is at the forefront of your recovery plan, this plays a big part in an active person life after injury – it helps you become more focused, flexible and stronger.

Tips to assist in injury recovery

Learn about your injury: read up on what it all means including what rehabilitation you can expect. Some injuries have ‘big words’ attached to them so listen to your doctor, physiotherapist and surgeon but also learn more about it outside the appointment times and find out how you can help with the recovery in addition to what the professionals say. Control the controllable whereby you assess how you approach rehabilitation and what risks you may take to re-injure - ensuring this does not happen again.

Accept responsibility for the injury: this refers to accepting you have an injury, not that it was your fault. I was working and training on a stress fracture for 3 weeks before I got it diagnosed. I knew something was wrong but “oh it will go away” and “think it’s just muscular” – nearly 2 months in a boot later! Accept and address the injury immediately to avoid more damage.

Maintain a positive attitude: easier said than done I know but give yourself a short time to grieve then turn the mind on its head, shake off the grief and bring on the positive vibes to get the recovery done so you are back to your best. Focus on the can-do attitude, not the cannot-do.

An injury can be a permanent setback or a gift. It’s all in how you look at it and how you respond. It’s your choice. Choose wisely."

Use the mind to heal the body: there have been studies that show one can accelerate the recovery process with specific mental skills and techniques such as imagery ad self-hypnosis. Imagery techniques utilise the senses to create mental images, feelings and sensations related to a desired outcome as though it was happening now or has already happened. Combine this skill with your physical rehabilitation exercises and you are well on your way to a strong recuperation.

Don’t abandon your support network: as negative feelings can corrupt the recovery process, we tend to creep into a cave and isolate ourselves from people who can assist – mentally and physically. Understanding that one doesn’t have to go it alone is a feat in itself.

Set appropriate goals and continue to plan: set goals to exceed your injury like “I want to run in the City 2 Surf” as opposed to “I want to get better”. Continue to plan so you can achieve the goal/s you have set. This plan is about your recovery so you need to be strict with what you have to do so the goal can be achieved. Referring back to using these principles in every day life, a friend of mine is pregnant, due in November and she has set a goal to run the Blackmores Half Marathon next year. This goal setting encourages her to get back into shape (once cleared from the doctor) - again injury (ie. being pregnant) is not stopping her from planning ahead.

Avoid comparing yourself to others: everyone has an opinion these days and although it is sometimes good to listen to what others did with their recovery, it is essential to remember to listen to the doctor/physio/surgeon first and foremost. They, and you(!), are the only ones that know exactly what is happening with your injury.

Maintain your fitness (according to advice from the physio): of course you will need to modify what you do however you can exercise ‘around’ your injury. For example, if you have a knee injury focus on the muscles around the knee to strengthen them which will in turn assist with your recovery. If that is not possible due to the physio’s advice, leave the lower body alone and focus on the upper body. Couldn’t master a decent shoulder push-up? Here’s the chance to practice and perfect. Continuing to train can also help you stay positive and not get too depressed about your injury and what you can’t do.

Don’t stop after you’re cleared: just because you don’t need to go to the physio any longer doesn’t mean you should stop strengthening the injured area. Last year I injured my shoulder and even though I continue to strengthen it through my work as a fitness trainer, it still plays up every now and again therefore specific strength maintenance is paramount.

Use alternative exercises and/or equipment: this can apply throughout your recovery and beyond plus after checking with the physio. With a bicep injury, using a dumbbell may put too much strain on the muscle as you are isolating one side, using a barbell instead balances the weight between both biceps ensuring there is additional support for the injured bicep.

Gift or Setback?: I’m a big believer in ‘things happen for a reason’ so see it as a sign to what is happening in your life. Maybe the injury occurred because you need to slow down, you are doing too much and physically injuring yourself makes you sit back and take a load off. As I mentioned at the beginning, injury can also refer to personal or business life. If a tender wasn’t won, maybe that was because a better opportunity is coming up and if you won that tender, you wouldn’t be able to succeed in the better opportunity around the corner; that house you bid on fell through…maybe because the asking price was well over your budget and the place 2 doors down is more suited to your family and budget. Recovering from injury is all about how you look at it and how you respond – it’s your choice so choose wisely.

And lastly…..Live in the Present: when injury strikes the mind shoots to the past assessing what could have been done to prevent the injury. Then the mind looks to the future and what one may be missing out on during the recovery. This can cause anxiety, regret and sadness so the best thing to do is take each day at a time and focus on the now, the present time plus recovery will move smoother and faster. Do not be distracted by the anxiety or regret – just the gift and opportunity that life has dealt.

If you have been injured, be it physically, personally or professionally, the same principles apply for a positive recovery. Don’t let the mind beat you at the game – cards are dealt every day, grab your hand and draw the best choice you can.

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