Season-ending injuries can hit you as hard mentally as they do physically. Depending on the circumstance if you pick up a major injury that puts you out of action for the entirety of your season it’s not only an uphill battle to get through your rehab to the point where you’re fit to return to play but the psychological impact can really knock you for six.
But what if your injury happens out of season? Or in the final game of the year. You’ve played your football, you were starting to actually look forward to your break and now all of a sudden things turn from rest to rehab. The opportunity to play a bit of five aside is gone and the winter training program is out the window.
Obviously the severity of the injury will dictate how limited you are in what you can do, but the man who tears an ACL with his last kick of the ball in November is rarely thought about. He’s just lost his pre-season.
The final bit of football may not even have been played and he’s already playing catch up for next year. Don’t worry, all hope isn’t lost. Here’s some strategies to get your head around the recovery process –
• Learn about your injury. What is my diagnosis (what type of injury do I have)? How long will recovery take? What is the purpose of the treatments I am receiving? What should I expect during rehab? What alternative workouts can I safely do? What are the warning signs that I am getting worse? By understanding the injury and knowing what to expect during the rehabilitation process, you will feel less anxiety and a greater sense of control.
• Accept Responsibility for Your Injury. I’m not saying that the injury is your fault, I just mean that your mindset needs to change. Instead of focusing on performance, you need to accept that now you have an injury and you are the only one that can fully determine your outcome.
• Set Appropriate Goals. Just because you are injured doesn’t mean you stop planning or setting goals. Rather than viewing the injury as a crisis, make it another training challenge. Your goals will now focus on recovery rather than performance. This will help keep you motivated. By monitoring your goals you will also be able to notice small improvements in the rehab of your injury. Most athletes have a tendency to try to speed up the recovery by doing too much too soon. It’s important to accept that you are injured and know your limits.
• Maintain Your Fitness While Injured. Depending upon the type of injury you have, you may be able to modify your training or add alternate forms of training to maintain cardiovascular conditioning or strength. If you can’t run, perhaps you can cycle or swim. Use the limits that are being placed on your training as an opportunity to spend more time getting your diet in order, as with your output reducing your calorie intake needs to come down too to avoid the wrong sort of winter bulk happen!
Whatever way you want to go about tackling your injury over the off-season one thing you must not do is ignore it. Don’t just bury your head in the sand and hope it goes away. If it’s robbing you of your off-season that’s one thing, but don’t let it eat into your actual playing time if it isn’t dealt with now when you’ve got the chance to concentrate on it and it alone!
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