Broken bones, muscles tears, and concussions happen. And if you live at the gym, fiercely compete in sports on a regular basis, or otherwise take your fitness routine seriously, there’s a good chance you may one day be faced with a serious injury. If it does happen, it can have a devastating effect on both your physical and mental wellbeing. So if you ever find yourself hopelessly standing at the start of the long road back to recovery, or if you’re there right now, here are some helpful ideas to keep in mind.
Get a second opinion
Doctors can have various opinions on how best to treat your injury. Some may recommend full surgery, others non-invasive surgery, and some will simply recommend rest and rehab. Explore your options, and speak with several doctors to decide which is the best recovery option for you and your body.
Get support from friends and family
Suffering a serious injury can be an isolating experience. You may be resigned to a hospital bed for weeks or locked up alone in your home for months on end as you recover. To make matters worse, rehab from your injury can be mind-numbing, as it can often feel hopeless as you perform the same exercises day in and day out with what seems like little progress. And depending on the severity of the injury, you could be at a rehab center for hours on a weekly or even daily basis. For all these reasons, having a support network besides doctors and other healthcare practitioners is essential to keeping your spirits up on the long road to recovery. Hopefully your friends and family will support you instinctively. But if not, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone or send them an email to ask for their help.
Relish the little victories
Because the rehab process can be long and mentally draining, it’s important to savor your triumphs and breakthroughs. When you finally take your first step after a broken leg, celebrate with a special meal with your loved ones. When you can lift your arm pain-free after a bicep tear, reward yourself with a weekend getaway.
Taking the time to relish little victories along the way can make the light at the end of the tunnel seem a whole lot brighter, and will create some happy memories in the process.
Listen to your body
From Kyrie Irving’s broken kneecap in the NBA Finals to Robert Griffin III’s knee injury in the NFC wildcard game, we see it in professional sports all the time: a player comes back too early from an injury only to reinjure his or herself to a worse degree. This is why it’s imperative to listen to your body on the road back to full health. If something doesn’t feel right around the location of your injury, don’t push yourself. Focus on healing, and don’t let the allure of getting back to the gym, court or field seduce you into exercising or competing before you’re ready. Your time will come, but take it one step at a time because further injury can draw out the rehab process even longer.
Gain a new appreciation for your body
Whether you broke a bone or tore a muscle, the body has an amazing ability to heal itself that often goes unrecognized. When you suffer from an injury, take some time to appreciate this. And remember that not all people return to full health after an injury; if you’re fortunate enough to do so, let it give you a better appreciation for what you have. By doing this, you may actually speed up the healing process, as studies have shown that gratitude can improve sleep, self-esteem and even physical health.
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