Injuries stink. They are painful; they are limiting; they can often take much longer to heal than we would all like. As an athlete, I have experienced my fair share of injuries ranging from minor sprains to numerous surgeries that have left me sidelined for months. As a physical therapist, I’ve had a front row seat to an array of injuries and rehab stories. Everyone of them is slightly different, filled with highs and lows. I have learned a lot from my personal and professional experiences and hope to offer some tips for you as you navigate this journey back to full recovery!
This is YOUR journey!
That may sound obvious, but somewhere along the line you will have to remind yourself of this. Others will be quick to share their own experience of having surgery or times spent in a brace or on crutches. They will tell you about how quickly and flawlessly it went, or they will tell you how painful and awful it was. While their intentions are good, it generally does little to make you feel better. It leaves you with questions and uncertainty and, sometimes, can be very defeating. Remember, this is not their story, this is YOURS! Everybody heals different, everybody experiences pain different, and everybody rehabs different. The way people move, areas of physical and mental strengths and weakness, activity level – ITS ALL DIFFERENT! Quit comparing yourself to others. Focus on YOU, on what YOU can control, and on what YOUR body needs.
Allow yourself to be upset
Rehab is about so much more than just physical healing. It is a process – and it can be an emotional process. Give yourself some grace and allow yourself to feel and accept that. It can be really frustrating at times. Whether you are a high school or college athlete, or you are someone who just likes to be active, it stinks to be sidelined from participating at the level you want to. Grieve that. Address that you lost something. It does not make you weak or unmotivated. It is the reality of the situation and it is important to recognize and accept that.
Celebrate small victories
After a large injury or surgery, there will be countless things that were once easy and are now hard. Take pride in the seemingly small accomplishments. Bask in the glory of being able to walk without your assistive device or raise your arm over yourhead for the first time. You undoubtedly have larger goals that you are working towards, but don’t forget to celebrate all the “baby goals” that you must first accomplish in order to get there. It is a process of small steps and being excited about the small wins will make the process much more enjoyable.
No one else can do the rehab for you. You must APPLY the knowledge that others are giving you. It takes a tremendous amount of grit and hard work to get back to the level you were before the injury. You must constantly find new ways to motivate and challenge yourself in order to achieve the long-term goals you have set. Being diligent about doing your exercises at home, about giving yourself the proper amount of rest and nutrition, and about listening to your body is crucial to successful rehab.
Surround yourself with a good team
While your road to recovery is all about YOU, you will not be the only person playing an active role in your recovery. Your family, your friends, your doctor, and your physical therapist will all play a part. Use them, appreciate them, allow them to partner with you throughout this process. Surround yourself with people that want to advocate with you and for you. Ones that are willing to listen to you and answer your questions; ones that focus on your needs and goals; ones that you trust and that instill confidence in you.
Expert Physical Therapist
At Altitude Physical Therapy, we believe that your physical therapist plays a crucial role in your rehab process. We know that recovering from an injury can be a long journey and we are committed to partnering with you every step of the way. We vow to listen to you, challenge you, educate you, and do all that we can to help you achieve your goals and return to the active lifestyle you desire.