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Getting injured is one of the scariest things for sports officials because, beyond the pain and inconvenience, it also threatens part of your livelihood and something you enjoy doing. Even a nasty sprain can have you off the court or field for a long enough time to make an impact, though it’s easily argued that bigger injuries are downright intimidating to come back from.

Building yourself back up from an injury can be a frustrating process full of uncertainty, but with the right strategies, you will be back working games in no time, performing at your highest level.

Coming back from injury is all about reconditioning your body to perform all of the tasks that it used to, but in the process, you want to make sure that you are not pushing yourself too far as to get another one.

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Manage Your Mind

Let’s deal with what may be the hardest part of the journey back – the psychological and emotional part of an injury. The emotions and mental strain you might experience could come out of nowhere and surprise you. Some officials actually grieve their lost time on the court and field in deeper ways than they knew were possible.

It’s important to acknowledge fears and concerns head-on and not push them under-the-rug as you recover. Having a positive mindset is all about being honest with yourself and your circumstance so you can face challenges with fortitude.

Science backs this up, too. Your attitude towards your injury and the recovery process can significantly impact your actual recovery timeline.

Staying focused on the positives, even if they’re little, help keep you mentally strong. Setting goals for yourself, again, even if they’re little, keeps your mind working towards a goal. As an official, this is second nature to you. Your brain thrives off the serotonin hit from achievement. Use this to your advantage in your recovery.

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Take your enthusiasm to be back in the game and turn it into motivation to do all you can to recover. Commit to what your medical professionals give you as a recovery plan. Stick to the goals. The consistency is addictive, and will act as a good kind of crutch on the days you “just don’t feel like it”.

Lastly, know that when it’s close to the time for you to return to the game, you may experience some fear or apprehension about reinjury. It’s natural. It’s normal. But, you already have something in your toolbox to manage it – the goals you set along your recovery timeline! Setting goals during the rehab process helps to combat these anxieties and fears.

Manage Your Intensity

You’re going to want to throw all your energy right onto the floor or field the first chance you get, right? Though understandable, you have to be really careful about preventing reinjury. In the field of sports recovery, rehab specialists often refer to what’s called an “intensity window”. The intensity window is essentially how hard you can train. The healthier you are, the more intensely you can train without risking injury.

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Thus, if you’re on the road to recovery, your intensity window will be much smaller. You have a greater risk of reinjury if you overwork your body before it’s ready. Your mind wants to go 100 miles a minute, but your injury might be screaming for you to slow down. Controlling the intensity of your workouts is one of the most effective ways to properly recover.

How do you know if you worked out too hard? Easy – listen to your body. Even if you’re mid-workout, and something doesn’t feel right – stop! Adjust. Find something comfortable. Though it’s usually okay to push yourself to reach new heights when you’re healthy, it’s not the time to go all-in just when you’re getting better.

There will be time for that later. Now, just focus on how your body feels and if you have pain after a workout, take a few days off.

Try again after. There’s no shame in being patient. Your body will thank you.

References:

1. Jarvinen, Tero., et al. “Regeneration of Injured Skeletal Muscle after the Injury.”
Muscle, Ligaments, and Tendons Journal. Feb 24, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3940509/

2. Behm, David, and Juan Carlos Colado. “The Effectiveness of Resistance Training Using Unstable Surfaces and Devices for Rehabilitation.” 7 Apr, 2012. International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3325639/

3. Santi, Giampaolo, and Luca Pietrantoni. “Psychology of Sport Injury Rehabilitation: A Review of Models and Interventions. Journal of Human Sports Exercise. 2013.

4. University of Rochester Medical Center. “Recondition After Injury.” University of Rochester Medicine. Accessed June 14, 2020. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/orthopaedics/sports-medicine/reconditioning-after-injur
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