The Pain of an Injury is Deeper Than the Broken BodyWhen atheletes or active individuals injure themsevles, their physical injury is only the first problem. At a deeper level, the inability to perform at the same level for an extended period of time can have negative affects on the mental mind and cause mental anguish and grief.
Overcoming the stages of grief in a physical injury is the first key to becoming whole again. In the September , 2010 edition of Runners, Mackenize Lobby in her article, “Good Grief” how runners and other athletes can overcome the mental aspect of injuries.
In the article, the five stages of grief are listed and analyzed. The first stage of denial happens quite frequently for athletes. Instead of investigating the pain, an athlete will sometimes ignore it and hope it goes away. This only makes it worst. Jim Taylor, a sports psychology consultant believes that many minor injuries turn into worst injuries when people ignore the warning signs of pain.
The second stage of anger occurs when the athlete discovers they are indeed hurt. Unable to perform or play in the big game, the athlete becomes angry or feels betrayed by one’s own body. Experts say it is alright to be angry for a few days, but then recover and put your energy towards new goals of recovery.
After one works towards recovery, many try to bargain their injury away with unlikely recovery times. They try to over work in rehab to achieve goals that the body cannot make. In response to this, one must accept the time one must put in and not over load one’s body. The ultimate goal is quality of healing not how quick one comes back at only 90%.
During the long hours and intense rehab work, sometimes things do not progress as quickly as one thinks. It is during these cold and gray days that depression can set in. During this point, it is important for athletes to stay the course and try to find time for other activities that are doctor approved and will not exacerbate the injury.
Finally, as in all grief stages, acceptance occurs. In regards to rehab, the athlete is finally focused and driven in a healthy fashion. The athlete sticks to the plan and works towards a proper rehab stint.
Ultimately, during rehab, one must avoid destructive thoughts and push towards the goal of recovery. Dr. Taylor again suggests various voices of reason when destructive thoughts emerge. When an athlete identifies himself as a runner only, one should counter that running is part of your life but not all of it. Focus on other things. Another destructive thought is that running keeps me fit and happy, without it I will lose my shape and gain weight. In response, Taylor recommends finding alternative and safe options to keep oneself tone and in shape.
In conclusion, injuries are horrible things that many people must go through but they are not the end of the road. A true athlete has the will power to reach any goal. Unfortunately,recovery instead of victory is sometimes that goal.
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