What to Know About Recovering from Combat Sport Injuries?

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1. Set clear and realistic goals — As an athlete you are no doubt used to setting very demanding goals for yourself and monitoring your process very carefully. But when your performance is hampered through an injury you will have to take this into account to make a full recovery. You will want to keep goals that are Specific-Measurable-Attainable-Relevant-Time-Bound, or SMART 

A SMART plan would look something like this  

 Specific — Run 5K maintaining the same pace as before the injury. 

Measurable — Use an app to track your running pace using a good app. 

Attainable — I know I was able to complete this before my injury and will do this again.  

Relevant — Running is part of who I am and I want to continue this in the future.  

Time-bound — I will allow myself this time to heal as per the doctor’s recommendations. I will increase my pace over the next few weeks and my pace and distance will increase with time.  

2. Visualize a healthy you — Never underestimate the importance of envisioning your success. It is essential to maintain the stronger version of yourself in your mind as you perform the necessary actions as this stimulates the regions in your minds that perform the learned function. For example, an athlete recovering from a broken ankle must envision themselves sprinting freely across the fields carried by two feet in perfect conditions. If you hope to every single one of your three pointers when playing basketball, you must visualize the basketball dropping into the net. Visualization is a technique used by both Stephen Curry, the NBA star and Lindsey Vonn, Olympic Skier to boost their performance.  

3. Be optimistic — when we begin facing the really serious challenges in life it is easy to become clouded with negative thought. Keep the mind focused and positive with a suitable mantra posted somewhere you will be able to see it and restore your resolve. Read it and repeat it to yourself when you feel doubtful. One great option is Muhammad Ali’s quote “I am the Greatest!” 

4. Focus on the present — when someone is injured or suffering an illness, they always want to be better in the instant. But the truth is that injuries take time and patience to fully heal and this is where the focus must be during this time. No matter how you heal it is not something that will happen from one minute to the next. It will happen in the moment and each successive moment, so focus on each moment and forget about your performance markers in the future.  

5. Honor your feelings — if your sport is a major part of your life and possibly even a career, it is only natural to feel a sense of helplessness in the wake of your physical conditions. You will be missing the fun and thrills of your team, your friends and the excitement of the game. For all intents and purposes, you have suffered a temporary loss and you should deal with it as such. Expect to see the 5 stages of grief, including: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Recognize these feelings for what they are and stay steady in your recovery.  

6. Accept help and support —No world class athlete has gotten to where they are without the help and guidance of a coach, guide or therapist. Even if they have largely handled their dieting and exercise on their own, the advice and perspective of an outsider can make a considerable difference. Whether they are winning or losing and especially when they are recovering, all good athletes have their team of sports advisors on call — even psychological professionals with experience in sports.  

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7. Take control —one of the most difficult things to realize is that an injury can make you feel utterly powerless. While you may not be able to heal your injury, it is essential for you to create the perfect conditions for a full recovery. Make sure you rest well and only push yourself when you feel right. By taking full control over your situation, you will ensure the injury is not taking power over you.

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