Updated: May 4
We’ve probably all experienced at least a handful of injuries in our lifetime, minor or major; these inconveniences have the potential to stop us playing sport, working, doing daily activities and being able to enjoy the things we typically relish. But sadly, they are an almost unavoidable part of being an active human being. The obvious path to recovery is seeking physical rehabilitation and injury treatment, however the inconspicuous partner in healing is largely undiscussed and ignored, that being mental rehabilitation.
As a culture we are becoming increasingly more open and honest about our mental health thanks to dedicated organisations and charities, healthcare professionals and public figures helping reduce the stigma surrounding it. On top of this, links between positive mental health and positive physical health have been proven; they are not isolated, instead working together to support our overall wellbeing. However, when considering physical rehabilitation the mental journey taken along side to recovery is still largely ignored.
With mental rehabilitation we refer to situations such as:
returning to usual activities after a long injury,
facing recovery of a long term injury,
anxiety after an injury,
cancelling an event due to injury,
fear of reinjury,
and these are just a short list of examples.
Rehabilitation is not just about supporting individuals back to sport and daily activities, but also mentally preparing them for their return. Studies on athletes have found that those returning from injury are more likely to get injured again; but following a carefully tailored rehabilitation plan and having regular sports massage treatments can reduce the risk of reinjury and can even result in increased awareness and performance. And this isn’t purely from the anatomical side. It can also be psychological barriers we put up that prevent us from fully committing to an action we now deem a greater risk than we previously did, such as a rugby tackle or picking up a heavy toddler.
Communicate. That’s the message from all this. Talking to someone you feel comfortable with can help you to overcome a mental barrier and in time reduce anxiety felt with an action that in the past may have caused injury. Let’s share our experiences and feelings about our injuries rather than facing them alone. Check-in on others who may be experiencing an injury, it may just take a simple question to get them to open up and approach it in a more productive and positive way. And consider the long-term benefits of recovery for our physical and mental health.
Mental and physical challenges can feel like a unique and individual experience; making it easy to think we are burdening others by talking about ourselves. Other people won’t care or be able to relate, right? Possibly. But if you think carefully you will surely find at least one person who has been injured before; making their isolated experience relatable. Through starting to talk to just one person you could find the emotional support needed and even the confidence to seek out a professional. We do not have to experience these things alone. Taking a personal injury and sharing the experience and perspective can help someone realise the importance of treating a minor injury; seeing a physiotherapist, sports massage therapist or GP. Additionally, relaying your experience will help find like minded individuals and allow you to feel less isolated, helping to positively deal with the idea of injury or the recovery process. And if you’re not the one personally affected by any injury, check-in on those that have suffered an injury to get that conversation started for their benefit.
Pain is more often than not your body asking you to stop or rest, but it takes your mind to put that request into practice.
MSE Sports and Remedial Massage Content Creator