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Major Injury Recovery Tips from a Physio's Own Experience

Updated: Nov 8, 2023

For anyone who has been unfortunate enough to suffer a major injury, they will understand not only the physical, but the mental toll it entails.

Missing out on the season you worked so hard for, that event you trained for months for or losing your physical escape or stress outlet. You might experience feelings of sadness, frustration, anger and low mood whilst you grieve your injury.

After suffering a significant ankle injury last year, I had to take time off work, time out of sport and adapt to a new exercise routine. I was fortunate to have an excellent team around me, including my physio colleagues, orthopaedic surgeon, friends and partner who helped me recover as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Using my experience as a physiotherapist and my own personal experience, I wanted to share some valuable insights and learnings into approaching recovery from a major injury.

1. Acceptance

The first step in recovery is acknowledging & accepting the injury. Experience the rollercoaster of emotions but try not to let them eat you up. Start focussing on what you can do, rather than what you can’t, and action those things.

Remember that healing takes time. One of the first questions patient’s ask following an injury is “how long until I’m back?” or “when will I be able to play again?”. Discuss and set a realistic time frame with your recovery team and be patient. It is a marathon not a sprint.

2. Set goals

It might be getting full range of movement or walking without crutches. Make the goals small and achievable and celebrate the small wins! They may not seem like much, but it will help keep you motivated and accountable.

3. Follow your treatment plan!!

Listen to your healthcare providers, try not to rush recovery, and trust the process. Be consistent with your rehab and adhere to advice and you will be back doing what you love a lot sooner.

4. Keep active!

Being injured doesn’t necessarily mean you should turn to a coach potato. Discuss with your physiotherapist some alternative exercise or activity that you could be doing in line with your injury. I was able to swim instead of run and I added more upper body to my gym routine. Use it as an opportunity to focus on something else.

5. Practice ‘holistic’ health

It is well evidenced that recovery is impacted by a number of factors. Practicing ‘sleep hygiene’, i.e. getting good quality sleep is as important as sufficient hours. Eat healthily and provide your body with the nutrition it needs to heal. Avoiding alcohol (acutely following injury) and maintaining good hydration all help optimise recovery.

6. Do things that make you happy

It might not be the sport or activity you’d like to be doing, but there is likely a good alternative. Looking after yourself psychologically is as important as anything else to ensure you last the journey, plus it makes time go a lot quicker! Every injury is unique as is their journey, so try not to compare yourself to others.

If you have suffered an injury and want to know what’s next, get in touch with the team at Physio HQ. We work closely with other health practitioners to ensure that, when needed, our clients receive an integrated team approach to restoring them back to normal function as soon as possible.

I hope you found some of this advice helpful!

Senior Physiotherapist


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