I have recently written an article discussing the psychological impacts of injuries for athletes. However, many studies show that positive thinking can aid recovery dramatically.
Many studies show that even just thinking your injury will heal, will have a major positive impact on your recovery .
So, what mental methods can you use to speed up your recovery?
Imagery and Visualisation
A few simple exercises can be used to show how your attitude affects your body. Firstly, visualise a negative experience- feel how this affects your body. Your mind will feel stressed and your body will feel weak.
Now, visualise a positive experience (something that makes you feel happy). Feel how this affects your body; your muscles should feel more stronger. From this you can see how your mental attitude and outlook affects your body directly and see how important a positive mindset is to recover from injuries.
This was shown in a study conducted on the effectiveness of imagery and visualisation on recovery. Levleva and Orlick suggested from the study, that by visualising the healing taking place to the injured area internally, moving through specific motions and situations that put the most demand on the injured area will aid recovery to the area. This helped the athletes to stay sharp mentally and allowed them to return to performing at their best in a shorter period of time.
Although it may seem crazy, many elite athletes use the method of self-talk to aid their recovery.
Marvin Hagler (a former American boxer) used positive affirmations and self-talk to aid his recovery. He would repeat the words 'I'm getting better, I'm getting meaner'. This helped him to feel more positive and confident about returning to training.
Perhaps create your own mantra that you can repeat to help your recover.
Set recovery goals
Setting yourself realistic goals can help you to focus on recovering from your injury. However, make sure these goals are achievable and that you are not pushing yourself too far as this could lead to frustration or possible injury to yourself.
After you heal from your injury it is important to not go straight back into heavy exercise- small steps of progress are necessary. Perhaps, run a few laps of your garden and reduce the intensity of your exercise sessions. By reaching your goals you will feel a sense of achievement which will inspire you to keep going with your recovery as you can see you are physically progressing.
Manage your expectations
It is key that whilst you are recovering that you remember to manage your expectations. Don't automatically assume that when you return to full training you will be at the same level of performance before you became injured- this is key to reduce frustration. It is important to allow your body time to recover.
To conclude, although injuries are a set-back and can be frustrating it is important to stay positive and motivated to aid recovery.