We’ve all seen star athletes, gymgoers, and even ourselves falling victim to one of the worst occurrences in athletics – the injury. It’s almost a fact of life that, at one point or another, we will all injure ourselves to some degree as a result of engaging in physical activity. Usually, the cure is quite simple, maybe some time resting and icing the injured area for a few days to a week. But sometimes, the road to recovery can involve a very long, drawn out process; sometimes, even surgery is required!
Let’s take a moment to talk about some of the components involved when on the road to recovery after serious injuries (broken bones, damaged ligaments, etc.). It may be months, or even years, for some of these injured areas to return back to what some may consider “normal”, and even then, the injured areas will oftentimes still not be as strong as they were before. And let’s be fair; modern medicine has come a long way. Back in the day, a serious knee injury could end a career, whereas now, a serious knee injury could potentially be healed within one year with proper rehab (compare Gale Sayers to Adrian Peterson). What we often fail to address are the mental factors associated with such recovery processes.
Reflect for a second on something that defines who you are as a person. It could be a sport. It could be a relationship. Hell, it could even be a video game. Now imagine what it would feel like to have that aspect of you removed from your life. How does it feel? At first, a may just seem like a small break; it may even seem surreal. But then you’ll notice a craving to bring that element back into your life; you’ll begin to miss it. This is often the point where depression can set in. Many injured athletes have stated that, during periods of recovery, they felt like they had lost a key piece of their identities. This loss of identity sometimes leaves room for doubt to kick in, leaves room for the veil of invincibility to come down.
The strong athletes really separate themselves at this point by demonstrating mental toughness. I’m reminded of the famous quote, “tough times show true character”. It could not be any more applicable. There are two roads an injured athlete can take. They could sit there, wallowing in their misery and snapping at the people around them, or they could take the opportunity to better themselves as a person, read books, learn something new, begin to appreciate finer, more macro aspects of life. Taking the latter road during times of strife will not only help you mentally, but I’ve personally noticed that it helps me physically as well! Find ways to occupy your time with wholesome thoughts and activities, and you will find yourself relieved from the stresses of your injury, stresses that will cause hormone releases in your body that could otherwise slow down your physical recovery! Who knows, perhaps this injury is going to put you onto a new path that will enable and empower you to travel down a different path that will make you even more successful.
Being healthy is more than just looking great and lifting heavy weights, it’s about the entire package, mind and body. Always stay positive, fam.