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Injury as opportunity

Amissed grip on an overhead obstacle at the Spartan Race in June was all it took. I ripped the biceps muscle in my right arm from the bone.

Unfortunately, injury is part of an athlete’s life. While I am sidelined from many of my favourite activities this summer, having a focused strategy for recovery is instrumental toward enabling a return to sports.

The mental game

Jim Afremow’s book The Champion’s Mind has been on my “must read” list for quite some time. A respected mental skills coach who works with top-performing athletes, he has written a book which I read during this down time; it has verified my thoughts on the mental aspect of sports.

As Dr. Afremow writes, the goal is to be the master of your injury. Don’t let the injury master you. The mind is a powerful muscle. Use it.

Tips for rehabilitation

Recognizing – and dealing with – the mental stages of rehabilitation is just as important as the physical rehabilitation. Shock, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. The situation is similar to the five stages of grief. You’ve lost something – and you need to deal with it.

Seek support from a good medical team. They will help you establish a plan of action. Trust the process. Friends and family will offer support. Talk to them about what you’re feeling. Don’t bottle up your emotions.

Fire up your imagination. Visualize your injury healing. See yourself doing your sport. Do not underestimate the power of the mind. Spin a negative into a positive. Find ways to stay active. If your injury is in the upper body, train the lower body, and vice versa. Make rehabilitation your new sport. Eat well. Regulate your stress level. Get good sleep. Above all: control your thoughts. Recovery is as much a mental game as a physical one.

The body achieves what the mind believes.

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