How to Deal with Injury: the Mental Game

Injuries are part of the risk you take on when you engage in sport. At some point you may get injured during training or in competition, which can be very frustrating especially if the injury is severe enough to put you on the sidelines for extended periods of time. A lot of athletes, especially pro athletes struggle with this frustration. They spend most of their waking hours training with all they’ve got, but then they get a last-second injury that robs them of a chance to compete for a title or a championship.

Due to this, many athletes tend to rush getting back into the swing of things even if their injury hasn’t fully healed.

Belinda Granger, a retired professional triathlete with 13 ironman wins to her name, has seen it happen to many pros over her career spanning two decades. She says, “They think that the injury is gone and they come back too early, too hard. Then their injury flares back up again, or they’ve got another injury somewhere else.” Instead of being patient and nursing the injury back to full health they lose more time by aggravating it, which doubles the frustration they’re feeling.

We can make it easier for ourselves to deal with injury and stay on track to recovery through a mindset change and keeping proper perspective.

What can you tell yourself to stay motivated when recovering from an injury?

Belinda believes patience is key. “Even if you take a week longer, it’s better than taking a week less,” says Belinda. Taking more time and letting your injury heal reduces the chance of re-injuring it, or overcompensating with other muscle groups and making them prone to injury.

Trusting in the rehab is also important and will help you overcome obsessive thoughts and fears about losing fitness in your time off. You are coming back a stronger athlete by doing a less intense or lower-impact exercise to strengthen the recovering body part as well as shoring up any muscle imbalances that could have led to the injury.

Strengthening your mental game when injured revolves around focusing on what you can do instead of dwelling on what you’re temporarily not able to do. And in the case of most injuries, there’s always something you can do to improve.

(Header photo by Joshua  Jordan on Unsplash.)

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