mind healing

The Mythical Healing Power of the Mind

Having recently gone through a season ending injury that put all my athletic goals on hold, I went through the emotional roller-coaster most athletes experience when an event such as this occurs.

One aspect I cannot complain about is the out-pour of support I received from sponsors, teammates, family, friends and especially my wife and daughter. It’s very frustrating to see a year of training come to a halt at the very end of the season. When this happens, we need a support mechanism to be able to surpass the disappointment.

Athletes have a tendency to see their world crumble when they suffer an injury. This happens when their identity is defined by their sport. It’s as if everything they are is because of their performance in their sport.

Although for yours truly, experiencing the loss of many months of training was disappointing, it also signified the beginning of a new planning cycle. I took a “learn the lesson” approach and promised myself to adhere to a philosophy of “train smarter, not harder” to avoid a relapse.

Let me share the steps I decided to take to better prepare and protect myself from injury:

1. Concentrate on Healing

Easier said than done, right? Well, one thing I can tell you cannot afford is to let your mind wander and start to play games. The mind is your ally, but it can also be your worst enemy. Institute a gentle breathing routine in which you constantly see yourself healed and active again. You’ll be surprised how speedy your recovery can be if you let your mind cooperate.

2. Visualize Coming Back into Action Stronger

Visualization is a tool that if used properly can very well be the difference between winning and losing a race. It also can be used to see yourself excelling in your pool and dryland workouts, being smart about how you workout, focusing on those aspects you have taken for granted before. It can also be used to see yourself training and competing injury-free.

3. You Must do Your Part Outside the Therapist Office

Yes, having a competent therapist guiding you through your recovery is a great feeling, but to heal, you must also follow through with isometric exercises, alternative strengthening movements; anything you can do to avoid losing strength in those muscles that are not around the injured area.

4. Keep Yourself Busy

If you like to read, read. If writing is your thing, document the emergence of your injury, what you are doing to accelerate your recovery, how long has your convalescence lasted, anything and everything that can help you develop a plan that will help you avoid a similar injury in the future. I cannot stress the importance of this, as you can only afford so many injuries while you practice and compete in sport. Be smart about it.

5. Beware of Jumping in Before it’s Time

Out of all the steps I have taken to give myself the best chances of a speedy recovery, this is probably the most important. You must give your injury its due time to heal, and heal completely. Almost no one will second guess you during your recovery if you complete it. If instead you jump back into practice and relapse, you will hear it from everyone how unintelligent that action was. After spending weeks recovering, extending it for even more time could be a devastating blow to your self-esteem; something that can last months to recover from.

In summary, if you have been nursing an injury, you must make sure to take all the proper steps toward full recovery. If that happens in a short span of time, great! If it doesn’t, like my doctor told me: “arm yourself with patience”.