Few things in life are more frustrating than having to recover from an injury. It may take weeks or months to fully recover, and in the meantime you’re barred from participating in your favorite sport or workout. In addition, sports injuries and rehabilitation often involve a great amount of pain, which is sure to dampen anyone’s mood.
Is there benefits to maintaining a positive attitude while recovering? Research shows there is. In a 1999 study, researchers Levleva and Orlick found that a positive mentality throughout the rehabilitation period was linked to shorter healing times and other positive outcomes upon healing.
But how does this happen?
The power of the mind-body connection cannot be underestimated. The higher the subjects’ expectations regarding healing were, the better they performed, the less pain they experienced, and the faster they were able to recover. Similarly, subjects who were pessimistic or fearful about their rehabilitation had more pain and longer recovery times.
While modern medicine can be somewhat leery of the power of positive thinking, as it is not quantifiable; there’s no doubt that qualitatively, healing from a sports injury is sped up and promoted by a positive outlook.
Patients with positive outlooks on recovery tend to have an easier time coping with difficult physical therapy, be more self-determined in their recovery efforts, have a better overall quality of life, and experience better moods.
If you or someone you know is currently recovering from an injury, whether psychological support is lacking in the recovery plan, or you’re simply looking to improve your recovery on your own using positivity, here are a few tips to follow:
● Set reasonable goals and have high expectations that you will be able to achieve them. Defining success on your road to recovery is the first step; you now have a starting point and can measure your progress going forward.
● Visualize yourself performing specific actions in physical therapy or playing your sport again. The more realistic the imagery, the better.
● Chart your progress. Whether you draw a table, create a spreadsheet, or simply journal, create something tangible you can go back to and see how far you’ve come.
● Accept moral, emotional, and physical support from family and friends. Make people around you aware of your desire to be more positive. Most people in your life will probably jump at the chance to help you embrace a positive outlook and improve your rehabilitation experience.
● Celebrate victories. When you meet your goals, do something to reward yourself! Seeing your hard work payoff is a great feeling.
Are you faced with recovery after a sports injury? We are here to guide you through the process with comprehensive sports medicine services, providing an opportunity for you to address fears and concerns so we can optimize your healing.
Dr. Talkington has been practicing sports medicine for nearly 30 years and is dedicated to quality care and attention for each of his patients, with a strong foundation of communication between doctor and patient.