Fit For Life Physical Therapy
Moving People – Physically & Emotionally
The Mental Health Component of Dealing with Injury
Heather Bechtel, MD
We all like to feel well and chase our running and walking goals. Little aches and pains can happen, and sometimes quick fixes or minor tweaks with shoes or gear are all that is needed to keep us on the road, trail, or treadmill.
But what if it is something more? When you have a more serious or chronic injury, it can put a damper on your season. This can also be tough mentally. Depending on the injury’s severity, your social calendar and your very identity as an athlete can be challenged. So how does one cope with a more significant injury?
- Make a plan
- Get the right medical diagnosis! If you are not sure what the next steps in getting that diagnosis should be (who to see?, where to go?, what imaging is needed?), please ask Sean or Dr Bright for guidance
- Ask questions and make sure you understand the plan
- Do not leave the doctor’s office until your concerns are heard
- Discuss the plan with your entire medical team, so that you are confident in your care
- Add time for rest, including healing time for the injury and proper sleep
- Stick with the plan
- Do your best to follow the agreed-upon plan
- Work with Fit For Life Physical Therapy to execute your best recovery plan, including stretching, strengthening, and other recovery strategies
- Cross training may be helpful for both your physical and mental recovery– bike, elliptical, swimming, and AlterG are a few options. Make sure it’s ok with your medical team, and try to make it fun!
- Manage your mind
- If it feels right, take a moment to grieve your season. It can be disappointing to miss out on training time and races. At the same time, try not to get stuck in this mode.
- Run or walk the mile you are in. Do not get lost in the big picture; take one day at a time
- Stay connected. Sudden isolation can be particularly hard. Come visit MIT on Saturday mornings or join your pace group for post-activity brunch. Meet friends for other activities (yes, there are other activities outside of MIT…)
- Recognize your progress as you recover from your injury. Celebrate the small milestones and keep moving forward
- If you are feeling down more frequently than not or having trouble coping, consider reaching out to your primary care doctor or a mental health provider
Other resources you may wish to consider include
- Make Every Move a Meditation by Nita Sweeney (MIT member and frequent newsletter contributor)
- Rebound: Train Your Mind to Bounce Back Stronger from Sports Injuries by Cindy Kuzma and Carrie Jackson Cheadle