How to Recover From an Injury

Injuries are a part of sports. Even if you're as careful and diligent as possible, you can still get injured. Whether the injury keeps you off the court for a week, a month, 6 months, or a year, all athletes get frustrated when they get injured. You need to know how to recover from an injury successfully. To do this, you need to have a good attitude, do rehab correctly, and know what to do in your extra free time.

The first thing you need to do is keep a good attitude. Don't ruminate on the past. Know that you can't go back in the past and undo your injury. Focus only on what you can control, which is recovering as fast as possible. 

Most importantly, know that you can recover, regain your previous level of performance (and even get better) and reach your ultimate career goals. Know that thousands of athletes have overcome injuries, and so can you! Never think an injury dooms your athletic career.

Don't worry too much about getting passed by your competition. It helps to think bigger picture and know that everyone deals with injuries throughout their career. Just because your competition is healthy right now, doesn't mean they wont get injured in the future and give you a chance to pass them. Your goal should to be to handle injuries better than your competition and recover faster than them. Know that injuries and plateaus are part of the journey. The journey isn't always going to be a straight line upwards. There will be times when you hit plateaus and even go backwards, but you should be motivated to get past these times as fast as you can, faster than your competition does. If you think this way, you'll see your rehab as a way to gain a competitive advantage.

Think of rehab as a sport in itself, with full recovery being the championship. Give yourself a date to reach full recovery and attack this goal with the same intensity and commitment as you do when healthy. This will keep your mind occupied and prevent you from getting discouraged and bored. Find the best doctors and physical therapists and commit to their rehab instructions as best as you can.

Lastly, think positive and realize that you can use your extra free time to focus on other areas in your life. Know that an injury can be a blessing in disguise by helping you improve in other areas in life. Perhaps you can use this time to spend more time with your family and friends. You could take a vacation and make great memories. You could connect more with God. All of this can improve your mental health, which can then help your performance once you start competing again. After a break from competing, you can come back refreshed, grateful, and inspired!

One of biggest benefits of being injured is that you can use this time to improve your game in other ways than you normally do. You can use this time to study film and become a smarter player. You can use this time to study sports psychology and improve your mental game. One specific thing you can do is practice visualization to help keep your skills and competitive mindset sharp. With better perspective, you can use this time to set goals and plan out your development and career. And if your injury doesn't restrict it, you can use this time to change your technique. You can practice shadow swings in the mirror. Similarly, you can still exercise using the healthy parts of your body. You can also become more disciplined with your diet during this time. If you play a team sport, you can use this time to be a leader and act as an assistant coach and find ways to help your team as much as you can.

If you 1) have a great attitude, 2) commit to your rehab, and 3) use your time wisely to improve your mental health and other components of sports, then you will have a successful recovery! You'll recover back to full health quickly and come back with a better mindset and new skills/knowledge. This will give you your best chance to regain your previous level and catch up to your competition.

A key thing to remember is that it's usually smartest to make sure you're 100% recovered before returning back to training. Think long term and don't be impatient. Coming back too early can potentially cause you to re-injure yourself. It's better to play it safe. Also, once you are fully recovered, make sure you gradually return to your training workload. If you suddenly begin your normal training workload after being out for a long time, you increase your chances of re-injuring yourself.

But this isn't all you need to do. After you recover and are cleared to compete again, you may be 100% healthy physically, but mentally you may not be fully confident in your body. You may be scared to give 100% effort and play your normal game because you may fear re-injuring yourself. This can greatly hurt your performance since it hurts your ability to concentrate and trust you instincts in competitions. The most important thing you can do to reduce this fear is by having the best rehab that you can have. If you truly recovered 100%, you'll be more confident about staying healthy. 

But if you still have fears, there's other things you can do. You can see a therapist and learn cognitive behavioral therapy to improve your self-talk. You can practice visualizing yourself playing fearlessly. You can reassure yourself by telling yourself the realistic, small probability of re-injuring yourself. You can tell yourself that even if you do re-injure yourself, you'll be able to overcome it again and again like you just did! Know that it won't be the end of the world. Accept and be able to live with the risks that come with playing your sport. If you do all of this, you'll fully recover mentally as well as physically and get back to playing with peak performance!