Mind Over Matter: Staying Positive While Rehabbing an Injury

After many years of injury-free exercise, at least any injury that required any kind of long-term rehabilitation, I was injured in a fall in July of 2023. While out on my morning “ruck march,” I was attacked by a dog and knocked to the ground. I caught myself with my right hand and injured my wrist.

My adrenaline was so high in the ER that I barely even noticed the injury to my wrist. I was more concerned about getting my tetanus shot updated and learning the dog’s rabies vaccine status. The next day, however, my wrist was bruised and become noticeably swollen. I figured a few days off of my usual push-up and pull-up routine (staples of my workout routine) would bring me back to normal. 

That was not the case. My rehab for this injury is taking much longer than I originally anticipated. Partially because of the physical trauma to my wrist, and partly as a result of psychological trauma from being attacked by a large dog. I had never been attacked by a dog before, and it was unsettling to say the least. 

Overcoming fear and staying positive through an injury

I took a week or so off from using my wrist in exercise to let the swelling go down, and started some stretching work that my chiropractor recommended. Even with rest and stretching, the pain and stiffness in my wrist persisted. My mind started to wander, and genuine worry about the timeline for recovery crept in. That mental unrest only made the injury worse. After checking with my chiropractor again, and with a friend who is a physical therapist, I started a more consistent rehab program.

About a month ago, my wife said to me, “Tom, you have to stop letting that dog live in your head for free! Stop waiting for the wrist to magically recover and get on with your training.” From that day until now, my recovery progress has moved forward by leaps and bounds. My mindset made all the difference

Mental toughness helps athletes navigate rehabilitation

Do I still have some pain in my wrist? Yes, some days are worse than others. Do I still have limitations in my range of motion? Yes, it’s going to take a while longer to get that back. The point of this article is to emphasize the role that our mindset plays progress and in recovery. Whether you face a couple weeks of setbacks or a daunting recovery process, mental fortitude will guide you through.

To coaches: be aware of the negative thinking that your clients may still have. 

To athletes: improvements in physical condition take hard work to make. We all face setbacks at some point. Stay positive and keep pushing yourself! Listen to your coach and do your best.


coach Tom Wilson fitness

Tom Wilson is a gold rated fitness instructor and one of CoachUp’s finest personal trainers. He has been on the platform for several years, and you can find his profile here!

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