Moving the Needle: 4 steps to successfully recovering from injury
In my last blog post, I spoke about setting intentions instead of resolutions, which for lifestyle changes is the way to go to see long-term success. But what about those times that you really do need (or want) to narrow in on something specific and achieve something, like running a marathon, or getting back from an injury? Is setting intentions enough?
“Goals focus on achievement and doing, intentions promote a state of being.” Matthew Trinetti of Give, Live, Explore
I was listening to the ‘Increasing Your Impact’ podcast by Justin Su’a and today’s topic was Moving the Needle. How often is it that we go about life, not really sure if we’re actually heading anywhere? It can definitely feel like that in the world of rehab.
Truth is, if we’re only thinking about the end game (whether that is to get back to playing soccer, or being pain-free), we are likely going to come up short. Because it is the act of doing something that will lead us to a destination.
Meaning, we actually have to do something!
It’s not enough to dream it, to think about it, to have someone else do it for us. We need to take matters into our own hands, by creating a game plan, and then sticking to it.
Here are Justin’s steps to moving the needle, which I’ll break down further in how it applies to recovering from an injury:
#1 – What is your goal?
When we have a clear purpose, it influences every thing we do.
Decisions. Actions. Attitudes.
Achieving a goal is no small feat.
Rehabbing a torn ACL is no picnic.
Getting moving again after a back injury can be emotionally exhausting.
Re-training how your body moves after a number of injuries is not a walk in the park.
Whatever your goal is, it’s not going to be easy, so make sure you know WHY you’re doing it.
We are willing to invest more time, money, discomfort into things we actually care about that gets us somewhere we actually want to be. So take the time to think about what you really want, and why you want it. A recent article by Jen Waldman suggests that the two most important words in goal setting are ’so that’ – try adding those words to the end of your goal to make it more meaningful and remind yourself WHY you have set it.
TIP: being specific and setting a timeline can help you stay on track.
I.e. ‘I want to be able to run 5 km without stopping by Christmas so that I can run the NYE run with my daughter’ is better than ‘I want to get back to running again’
Most people don’t go past step #1, meaning usually they have some goals, but no plan or strategy to get there.
Remember, it is the act of doing something that will lead us to a destination.
#2 – What are your priorities?
What are the things you need to do every day that will support your goals?
When you have an injury, they may include:
- Getting a good amount of quality sleep
- Ensuring proper nutrition to support healing
- Making time to do your exercises
- Investing in seeing a professional who can guide and support you in the process
#3 – What are your distractors?
What are the the roadblocks that may get in the way of your goal?
When you have an injury, they may include:
Not slowing down, over-doing it and re-aggravating the injury
On the other hand, maybe you’re not doing enough, feeling hesitant to move and therefore staying guarded and not giving any feedback or input to the healing tissue
They can also be things that get in the way of your priorities, like spending too much time on social media, not planning ahead, pizza and beer nights with the boys.
#4 – How can you build habits around your priorities?
What things can you do every day to help you toward your goal?
If we look at the priorities above it could look something like this:
Getting a good amount of quality sleep:
• no screens 1 hour before bed
• practice meditation or mindfulness prior to bedtime
• ensure 7-9 hours of sleep every night (no you can’t ‘catch up’ on weekends)
Ensuring proper nutrition to support healing:
• Eating a wide-variety of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and high-quality protein sources.
• Drinking plenty of water
• You can also work with a dietician or nutrition coach to make sure your diet is rich in anti-inflammatory and tissue building foods.
Making time to do your rehab:
I know it’s hard to prioritize this one, but in order for tissue to heal you really do need to load it. Here’s some strategies that might be helpful:
• Build it into your day, do your neck stretches at your desk, do your single leg balance exercises while you’re brushing your teeth. Do your hamstring stretch watching your favourite soap opera, and fit in those glute bridges during commercial break.
• Set a timer – what can you get done in 5 minutes, 10 minutes? You need a break from sitting at that desk anyway, so set an alarm every hour to get up and do a few rehab exercises.
• Build it into your warm-ups – a lot of rehab exercises are good to do before your workouts (which hopefully you are still doing and just modifying).
Investing in seeing a professional to guide you:
Injuries suck and usually they don’t just ‘go away on it’s own.’ Every injury is different, and every individual is unique. But typically, the longer you’ve been in pain or been injured, the longer it will take to recover. Build a support network around you that will help you understand your injury, help you identify your goals and priorities, give you guidance around building good habits, and keep you accountable. I might know someone that can help 😉
It’s time to move the needle
It’s up to you to decide where your destination is, and how hard you want to push the limits to get there, but remember it is the act of doing something that will lead us there.
I’d love to hear what your strategies are for moving the needle!