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Bounce Back After Injury

James Watt provides advice on how to mentally and physically bounce back after injury.

Athletes and coaches are all too familiar with the word injury, all that it implies, and all that it entails. Training and knowledge can be key to attempting to prevent an injury, but the truth is it can still happen at any time. A constant element of unpredictability is involved in athletic performance at any level and understanding how to overcome injury can help prepare athletes for what their minds and bodies will be up against as they rehab any potential injuries. Although the physicality of dealing with an injury is extremely critical, so are the mental components that athletes face.

There is much to understand about how to cope with the sometimes-harsh realities of having a body that cannot safely achieve all that the mental demands it, or that it is used to being able to achieve with ease.

Physical Rehabilitation

While an injury can take only seconds to occur, rehabbing one can take considerably longer. Work, time, energy, and perseverance are essential during the rehabilitation period. Although the training involved can often be predictable and easily associated with the athlete’s specific sport, trainers are beginning to look outside the box when it comes to rehab to create more well-rounded athletes as well as strengthen the body without putting it through any additional shock or strain.

Getting outdoors is one way to modernize the rehab process. The integration of technology into the world of sport is one-way coaches, athletes, and trainers set out to bridge the gap between tried-and-true methods, and more innovative ones. Sports rehab aims to get an injured athlete back to training and competition without putting them at risk for additional undue injury. A long-range electric bike is a great example of how to achieve this.

These pieces of equipment allow riders to go through the motions of cycling but to use as much, or as little, energy as they desire. Since the motor on these bikes provides a backup assist that can be modified, they are great for monitoring progress. Trainers can assign the same exercises and processes to their clients and report back where and when they leaned more heavily on the bike.

Types of Physical Rehab

Treatment plans are customized based on the specific injury type and the individual requiring rehab. Several different approaches and practices can be utilized in combination to provide relief and healing. Manual therapy may include massage or joint mobilizations. This is a hands-on passive movement technique that will stimulate the joints when a range of motion is lacking.

Modalities are various methods of electrical thermal, or mechanical energy treatments. Helpful with pain reduction decreased inflammation, and improved circulation can help your muscles remember how your body worked them before your injury. Therapeutic exercises are included in treatment plans to restore movement, and the patient can hope to regain and eventually build strength to prevent further injury. Both acute and chronic injuries can benefit from therapeutic exercise.

What to Expect

By definition, physical therapy is a health care specialty aimed at diagnosing and treating individuals with health conditions that limit their ability to move and perform daily activities. First and foremost, you can expect professional attention and a professional approach towards your injury's specifics and correcting the problem. Timeline is typically the first topic that patients inquire about, and this question does not have a one size fits all answer.

The trajectory of your injury and rehabbing it will be based on how severe your otherwise physical health is and the result you are trying to reach. You can expect your sessions to be varied based on length and frequency and change as your progress improves or weakens.

Speaking about athletes vs the general population, rehab may be more intense for these individuals. Since performance is the desired result, dedication to a speedy recovery will result in increased sessions with your physical therapist. As an injured athlete, you can also expect that a portion of your rehab experience will include mental and emotional therapy in tandem with the physical work to overcome your injury.

Psychological Skills to Combat Injury

A great comeback story is not just about restoring an athlete to where they were pre-injury; it is also about surpassing their previous benchmark to excel beyond expectations. Post-injury comeback's self-related expectations can often be more significant than any external ones. Carrying an athletic injury's mental load can negatively affect rehabilitation if you let it. Honor your feelings of defeat but focus on the restoration plan and not the initial setback. It is natural to feel disappointed that you cannot participate in your sport as you are used to but giving yourself grace and patience on the road to recovery will help you endure the rehab plan created for you.

A lot of change can occur on a team or in a sport while you are handling your injury, reintegration into your old role will require some mental strength and flexibility. Understanding that you may not be walking back into the same scenario that existed when you left is step one. A lack of confidence or decreased feeling of knowledge of your exact role and contribution are natural side effects of having been out on injured leave.

Triggers that may or may not have existed preinjury also deserve your attention and acknowledgment. Elements of the game that previously did not affect you may very well do so now, or vice versa. The key to developing a sharp mind geared towards life after an injury is keeping it open. Expecting the landscape and how you navigate it to look different can shield you from the unexpected being something that mentally holds you back after you have done the physical work to get back in the game.

Page Reference

If you quote information from this page in your work, then the reference for this page is:

  • WATT, J. (2021) Bounce Back After Injury [WWW] Available from: [Accessed

About the Author

James Watt is a certified personal trainer with 10+ years of experience in the fitness industry. He is an expert in sports conditioning and strength training among other disciplines.