6 ways to come back stronger after injury

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‘The physical hurt you feel when you get injured is only one small part of the overall pain that you go through,’ says Dr Alan Goldberg, a sports performance consultant and author of Sports Slump Busting (Llumina Press). ‘The mental pain caused by your injury and the loss of your sport, be it temporary or permanent, can be far more devastating. Unless you address it, your recovery will be slow and incomplete.’ Here are Goldberg’s top tips for weathering the storm:

1. Be sad

Allow yourself to feel whatever loss you are feeling. Hiding your feelings will interfere with effective coping and recovering. Your emotions are an important part of the healing process.

2. Deal with reality

Injured athletes tend to focus on ‘should haves’ and ‘if onlys’. Giving energy to these thoughts will take away from recovery and rehabilitation. You have to deal with your reality.

3. Set new goals

Leave old goals in the past for now, and set fresh ones. As you recover, you will need to measure your successes differently, perhaps in minutes instead of miles.

4. Keep active

Embrace rehab and keep up as much of your training as possible. If you can’t, use mental rehearsal daily (5-10 minutes) to see, hear and feel yourself running. This will keep your neuromuscular connections activated.

5. Think yourself better

Practise healing imagery every day. If you’re recovering from a stress fracture or torn muscle, spend 5-10 minutes imagining that bone or muscle beginning to heal.

6. Stay positive

Try to maintain a positive attitude. This can speed up the healing process and lessen your emotional pain. If you feel overwhelmed, consult your GP or consider counselling. Seeking help is a sign of strength.